AAU Fall Festival - Nickelodeon Panel

On the second night of the Fall Festival, we have a Nickelodeon panel where Amber Beard, manager of the writing and artist program, and Veronica Esquivel, the talent acquisition manager, come talk about the Nickelodeon studio and their internship and writing and artist programs.Unfortunately I found Nickelodeon to be disappointing, at least pertaining to me, as they consider themselves a preproduction studio. For their shows they do all the scripts and designs in their Burbank studio but the actual production of their shows is outsourced to other countries. For those who wish to be producers, script writers, or character/environment/prop designers, Nickelodeon would be more appealing to you.

A little about the Nickelodeon studio first. They have a "kids first" philosophy that drives their work and how they interact with the community. Nickelodeon gives back with things such as a philanthropy project that is done by the interns. Art books are created and inspired by the interns which are then donated to children and schools that have been affected by budget cuts. Nickelodeon creates both 2D and 3D animated cartoons. Of their 3D animated cartoons, Nickelodeon has series such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Kungfu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness and Monsters vs Aliens were on their list but as the shows are wrapping up as Nickelodeon's contract with Dreamworks comes to a close. Of their 2D animated cartoons, while T.U.F.F Puppy and The Fairly Odd Parents have wrapped up, Nickelodeon has Spongebob, Dora the Explorer (which is now getting a spin off series called Dora and Friends where Dora is older), and Legend of Korra. Nickelodeon is picking up three new shows, Shimmer and Shine, Breadwinners, and Pig Goat Banana Cricket, so they are definitely looking for new talent! Nickelodeon splits their studio by department. Each show is their own department and all the artists and crew of that show sits together rather than having all artists in one corner, writers in another, and producers somewhere else. As I've mentioned before, Nickelodeon considers itself to be a preproduction studio and most of production is done in other countries. Other areas that Nickelodeon is involved in are post production, animation development and current series, casting for animation, writing and artist program, business and legal affairs, finance, MTS, and special events and human resources.

The internship program, or Nicktern as Nickelodeon likes to call it, is open to junior and seniors. it is a ten week long internship that is open in the fall, spring, and summer. It is a paid internship program and interns are expected to work 16-30 hours a week, Monday to Friday 9am - 6pm. It is a great way to get a job at Nickelodeon due to exposure of meeting all the producers and talent that are there. As an intern, you won't be contributing anything artistic to the shows but it is rather more of a producer assistant type of role with the main objective of exposure and easier access to become hired afterward. An artistic portfolio is not required for the application, instead what Nickelodeon is mainly looking for is passion, excitement, and a strong, clean, and organized resume.

The Artist Program is available to students after they have graduated. NAP (Nickelodeon Artist Program) seeks to nurture the development of emerging and diverse artist for positions within Nickelodeon. NAP is a six month long paid internship that follows the Animation Guild's trainee/apprentice payrate. There are two available tracks, the general design track (character, background, prop, and color design) and a new storyboard track. The interns are assigned to a production and mentored by a lead artist who will guide the interns to advance their portfolio and develop professional skill sets. NAP has a three phase structure. The first phase, Welcome to Nick, is where the interns are introduced to the studio and the NAP department sits down with the design and storyboard department to determine which artists is more suited for which productions. The second phase, Are You Tired Yet?, is where the interns are placed on a production and assigned a mentor who will give projects that will need to be completed. The intern will spend three months on one production and then the last three months switch to another. The last phase, So You Think You Can Draw, is when the intern can take a art test for available position to attempt to be hired as a full employee. The NAP uses an online application system. For the general track, Nickelodeon is looking for a portfolio that shows a diversity in skill. There should be 5 to 25 images that may contain things such as character design, environment, props, color, life drawing, animal drawing, and even works in progress; an animation reel is optional. For the storyboard tracker, have a short film or multiple sequences boarded which showcases your ability in storytelling, staging, clarity, and acting ability; a portfolio or animatic is optional. Only a total of four artists are chosen for the program, two for the general track, and two for the storyboard track.

The Writing Program is very similar to the Artist Program in that it also seeks to attract, develop, and staff writers, has a three phase structure, is salaried, and up to 4 writers are chosen. The writing program lasts for one year and is for both live action and animation. For submission, write a spec script that is comedic, either live action or animation, and is based on a half hour television series that is currently on air and produced for network or cable. Veronica suggests not to submit a script for a Nickelodeon show as you may cause yourself disadvantages if the judge reading over your work is involved with the particular show and thus may view it with a more critical eye. If you make it to the second round of interviews, the phone interview, if you don't have a second spec script, you will automatically be disqualified. As a writer, you love writing and will always be writing so by not having more work to show would be strange and makes you appear to lack passion and interest.