in Animation

My Summer in Sodor: Writing for Thomas & Friends

This summer I fulfilled a childhood dream: I got paid to play with Thomas the Tank Engine.

More specifically, I pitched a treatment to a Tongal contest, and was selected to write a series featuring the Thomas & Friends TrackMaster line of toys. To me, the toy line is a mash-up between those adrenaline-pumping Hot Wheels commercials of the late 90s and the Thomas I knew and loved, so I was excited about the possibility. The contest actually had opportunities for three toy lines, and while I was compelled to apply to all three, the submission requirements became overwhelming and I nearly didn’t apply at all. The day before, I stopped feeling sorry for myself about being spread too thin. I decided to focus on one submission and make it the best I could, because in the grand scheme of things, one good submission was better than three bad submissions, which was better than no submissions at all. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, and all that.

A week later, I heard the news: I’d been selected! Thus began a months-long process of writing treatments, drafts, and revisions for three episodes you see below. Unfortunately, I did not get to work with the animation studio, so I’ve been eagerly awaiting the final reveal since I turned the scripts over months ago. Over the last two weeks the episodes popped up on the Thomas & Friends YouTube page. I got to see adjustments the studio made, both superficial ones, like the episode titles, and more structural ones. They did an incredible job with the stop motion, especially the expressions, and I wish them all the best.

Ever since interning at Nickelodeon, I’ve had a soft spot for children’s animation. Much of what I’ve written recently is adjacent to the genre, so being able to make something like this digital series for Thomas & Friends, which hits the creative categories I’m most passionate about, is really special.

Plus, it’s freakin’ Thomas the Tank Engine. 6-year-old Alex still can’t believe it.