Becky Tinker ’11 enjoyed watching science fiction programs like Star Trek growing up, but there was one problem: a lack of female protagonists. When the opportunity came to write her own space adventure television pilot, Tinker made sure that her leading character was female.
That character is Ainslie Wickett, a 12-year-old girl who accidentally intercepts an SOS signal from a spaceship and is beamed on board with her best friend. Her adventures are chronicled in the new Amazon kids’ animated pilot Everstar, which is set to debut on November 5.
“What kid doesn’t wish they were able to go on these wild adventures across the universe?” said Tinker.
A drawing of the spaceship featured in Everstar (courtesy of Amazon).
Some might say the journey of Everstar is an adventure in itself. Originally, Tinker wrote Everstar as a TV script in 2012. At the time, she was working as an assistant to a producer on the TNT show Leverage. John Rogers, the show’s creator and executive producer, ended up reading her script and liking it. When Rogers and Mark Waid, an award-winning comics writer, launched Thrillbent, a digital comics website, they decided they needed something for kids. Enter Everstar, which was turned into a comic with 12 chapters.
“With comics, I was thinking much more visually about what the artwork was going to say on each page,” said Tinker. “I also had to do a lot more in a condensed amount of time.”
Tinker says she loves how the comic turned out, but in the back of her mind she knew that Everstar was always intended to be a TV series. As luck would have it, Tinker was working as an assistant at another production company, Kung Fu Monkey Productions, when Tara Sorensen, head of kids’ programming at Amazon Studios, came knocking. Rogers, who founded Kung Fu Monkey Productions, and Jennifer Court, the company’s head of development, sent the Everstar script over to Amazon. A pitch meeting later—Tinker describes it as nerve-racking—and it was blast-off for the animated show, which took over a year of development to get the script, characters, and style right.
Tinker says she’s always been interested in writing for kids. At Emerson College, Professor Martie Cook even helped her design an independent study course in Writing for Children’s Television since no courses were offered in that genre at the time.
“I remember Becky being incredibly passionate about her writing. She worked hard each and every day to perfect her craft,” said Cook. “For Becky to have achieved this so soon after graduating from Emerson is even more amazing. It’s a true testament to her writing.”
Tinker says Cook helped her writing “in a big, big way” and encouraged her to pursue a career in the field. When Tinker participated in the Emerson College Los Angeles Program in 2010, she interned at the Jim Henson Company, where she got to work on kids’ shows such as Dinosaur Train and Sid the Science Kid.
“That internship really solidified for me that I really wanted to be working in children’s television,” she said.
Tinker hopes she might get a chance to develop Everstar into a full series. The pilot episode is debuting with five other animated kids’ pilots, each launching on November 5 on Amazon. Based on audience feedback and voting, one of the pilots may be picked up for a full season.
“It’s really surreal and incredibly exciting,” said Tinker, about the launch of her pilot. “I really hope that kids watching Everstar get a huge sense of adventure and feel an awe-inspiring love of just wanting to go out and explore their universe.”