This is somewhat late as the even actually happened last Friday, January 31st, but Nickelodeon's Jill Sanford (VP of Animation Development) and Sherley Ibarra (Manager of Talent Outreach and Development), came to share what the Nick Shorts Program is all about and exactly what they are looking for in 2014. Nickelodeon's Animated Shorts Program was started back in 2012 to find and assist the development of a new generation of content creators. Now, going onto its third year, the program has seen well over a thousand pitches and produced a total of 22 shorts for Nickelodeon's website and app.
The Animated Shorts Program is looking for comedies that target children ages 6 to 11 with entry points for both boys and girl -- Nickelodeon feels that this demographic is right at the core of the company; they prefer to focus on making cartoons that are character driven, warm, and playful. They aim to be silly and 'smart funny', while still being immature (in the way it is to be a kid); unique, exciting, and surprising stories with kid-relatable issues. What Nickelodeon is not is weird for weird's sake, stories that are too traditional and safe, trendy (as it crosses over into the teen age group), or looking for stories that are predictable or oriented around gimmicks.
Your pitch should be limited to two minutes, primarily in one setting, and with a total of 2 or 3 characters. Materials to submit include:
- Concept treatment (a writeup of who the characters are, what the story is about, and where the setting is)
- Character descriptions - written/and or drawn with a preference to have both
- 2 minute rough story boards or outline/script (more info is better)
- Signed submission release form which can be found on the website
The short can be produced in any medium such as 2D, 3D, and/or stop motion. What is important is that the shorts must be comedic, character driven, and have kid appeal. You do not have to do everything yourself; the pitch submitted can be a collaborative project with people working on concept art, storyboards, character designs, etc., but ultimately, if it's your idea, you should bring the pitch yourself. There is no limit to the number of pitches that can be submitted and this program is open to everyone. Don't try to guess at what Nickelodeon wants to see. They want to hear your voice! Authenticity and uniqueness is what makes a story stand out and often times that comes from something personal.
The deadline for submissions is March 14th, 2014. The winning pitches will be chosen approximately 2 weeks after the closing. Once the pitches are chosen, preproduction begins immediately with the goal of finished shorts by the end of the year to be delivered.
As the story creator, you will be working with Nickelodeon's production team to realize your vision and be able to give feedback and suggestions as the company seeks to support the creator. While working with Nickelodeon to produce the short, you will not necessarily be at the studio. There will be check-ins and meetings that may happen over the phone, Skype, or e-mail, but you mainly only shows up to the studio for key check-ins, such as voice recordings. While you are paid a small amount, you should not consider this a full-time job. Of course if the short does extremely well and gets picked up for a series then you will be working at Nickelodeon full time to produce the show!
Don't be shy about sharing your stories! It can be intimidating to think about how many other people are submitting ideas or feeling that you just aren't good enough. Don't let the "they will never pick me" mentality take over. Probably everyone thinks that, and that means there are even less people competing and even better chances that you will get picked.
In addition to sharing all this amazing information with us, Nickelodeon brought in "care packages" for everyone. These are super special boxes filled with limited edition posters, stickers, and artist cards that are not available anywhere else nor to anyone else but students that Nickelodeon visits.
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