×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Nickelodeon’s Shorts Program Develops New Talent

Toon studio taps local, global talent for multiplatform content and more international reach

In the 25 years since Nickelodeon launched its animation studio, more players have entered the marketplace than ever before. And the playing field itself has expanded to include more than just television and movies, as audiences consume content on different platforms.

To keep up, Nickelodeon is reaching out to new talent through its successful Shorts Program and giving audiences small bites with its digital shorts and Web-exclusive series like “Welcome to the Wayne,” which proved so popular it graduated to a series on NickToons.

“Everything comes down to talent development for us,” says James Stephenson, senior VP of animation and games. “We have a lot of different ways to do that. We have a screenwriting fellowship that’s going into its 17th year. We have an artists’ program that’s six years in. We have the Shorts Program, which is a great way to find and develop talent.”

One of those talents is Chris Savino, whose new series “The Loud House” debuted on Nick this month, after being part of the Shorts Program.

“The Shorts Program, for me, was a really smooth operation. The short was greenlit for production in March 2013 and the actual series was greenlit a year and two months later, which is very fast compared to the normal development process,” Savino explains.

Savino isn’t the only Shorts Program graduate to have a project become something more at Nickelodeon. Carl Faruolo, one of Variety’s 10 Animators to Watch this year, will have his Shorts Program piece, “Bug Salad,” become a short-form digital series for Nick. In all, according to Stephenson, 47 different shorts have produced talent for the network in the last three years.

Nickelodeon is also using its Animated Shorts Program and Writing Program to mine new talent and develop content overseas. Pedro Eboli and Graham Peterson pitched their idea for a short called “Monster Pack” that is now being developed further as a potential series for the network. The filmmakers have been given guidance and financial support to follow through on their initial pitch.

“Once they worked with us on our ideas, they were really hands-off when we were making ‘Monster Pack,’” says Eboli. “We made the film in Brazil and when we were done they gave us feedback but they gave us a lot of trust.”

With Nickelodeon channels in more than 70 countries, the network is on a push to create content that will play in Turkey just as well as it plays in Peoria.

Nina Hahn, senior veep of international production and development, says they look to preserve the unique cultural footprint of their content creators while still coming up with programming that appeals to kids on a global scale.

Another area that’s crucial to Nickelodeon is games. “Games are hugely important to our audience,” says Stephenson, especially games connected with Nick properties. “We’re finding ways that the productions we’re doing are driving all different kinds of content, including games, so when the audience finds our games they feel like they are dynamically connected to the shows,” he says. Stephenson cites “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” as a notable success for the studio. “And we’re trying to figure out whether some of our newer properties like ‘Welcome to the Wayne’ and ‘Pinky Malinky’ can build productions that feed into all the different things at once.”

Pictured: “Welcome to the Wayne” was a Web-exclusive series that moved to TV’s NickToons.

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Tony Ayres - International Live Action

    Netflix Boards Tony Ayres' Tech Thriller 'Clickbait'

    Top Australian film and TV creator, Tony Ayres, “Harry Potter” producer David Heyman and Christian White have set up “Clickbait,” a new thriller series for Netflix. It probes probing the dangers of social media and the widening gulf between people’s real and virtual selves. The show is to be produced in Melbourne, Australia through NBC [...]

  • MINDHUNTER

    Netflix's Podcast Slate 'Deepens' Space Around Original Content, Programmers Say

    It should come as no surprise that, in its quest to become a full-blown entertainment ecosystem, Netflix has built a roster of podcast programming to complement its scores or original series and films. The programs recruit top talent and hosts to hang out and talk about the streaming giant’s TV and film content. It’s a [...]

  • Netflix-logo-N-icon

    Netflix Is Testing Human-Curated 'Collections'

    Netflix, a company powered by the strategic use of data, relies on artificial intelligence to suggest new content that its streaming customers are likely to be interested in. Now it’s looking to potentially add a human touch: The company has launched a limited-scale test of “Collections,” a new feature that presents groups of movies and [...]

  • wolves in the walls emmy

    Neil Gaiman VR Experience 'Wolves in the Walls' Wins Primetime Emmy

    “Wolves in the Walls,” the virtual reality (VR) experience based on Neil Gaiman’s children’s book by the same name, has been awarded with a Primetime Emmy for outstanding innovation in interactive media. The experience has been produced by San Francisco-based immersive entertainment startup Fable, which puts a big effort on making the viewer a participating [...]

  • The Void San Francisco

    The Void Teams Up With Sony Pictures for New Location-Based VR Experience

    James Murdoch-backed virtual reality (VR) startup The Void has teamed up with Sony Pictures Virtual reality to produce a new location-based VR experience, according to Curtis Hickman, the startup’s chief creative officer. Hickman revealed the partnership in a conversation with Variety this week, during which he also outlined plans to bring more original IP to [...]

  • US President Donald J. Trump speaks

    Apple Stock Down 4.6% After Trump ‘Orders’ Companies to Leave China

    Apple’s share price was down around 4.6% Friday at the close of the market, to $202.64 per share, after President Trump took to Twitter to “order” U.S. companies to leave China. The slide came amid a market-wide sell-off, with the NASDAQ sliding 3%, and the Dow dropping 623 points. Trump’s edict was a response to [...]

  • Former head of CAA China Peter

    Peter Loehr to Spearhead Asia Expansion of Genies Avatar Venture (EXCLUSIVE)

    Peter Loehr, the former head of CAA in China, and seasoned music executive John Possman have been tapped by digital avatar company Genies to lead its expansion into Asia. The company’s proprietary avatar technology allows users to express ideas, thoughts and feelings in a different way from text, audio and video. Within the app and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content