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EXCLUSIVE: Nickelodeon’s New Shorts Program

Nickelodeon announced today a new animated shorts program designed to develop comedy-driven content. According to the press release, available in its entirety on CB Biz:

As part of the program, ten, 60 second shorts will be made with the potential of becoming long-form animated comedy series which will air on the network or

Created to expand on Nickelodeon’s animation comedy development slate, the shorts program is designed to attract new talent to develop both artist and comedian-driven shorts. Ideas will be solicited from in-house and outside talent including artists, designers, writers and directors who will be provided artistic support to produce their short depending on their level of experience. In addition, selected comedians will be partnered up with the artistic and production support necessary to complete their short.

Guidelines for those interested in participating in the program are posted here. All animation styles and techniques are encouraged from 2D to digital 2D, stop motion, CG or mixed media. The deadline for entries is March 30 at 6 p.m. PT. The animated shorts will be produced at the Nickelodeon Animation Studios in Burbank, Calif.

  • I submitted my “Don & Donn” shorts!

  • zoe

    The site doesn’t say anything about what happens to ownership of the characters/ideas submitted, or how the winner will be compensated (other than having their short produced). It also doesn’t say anything about the ownership status of the ideas which DON’T get selected. Do creators retain the rights to their work?

    • The site only mentions pitching your idea. As such, it’s probably safe to assume that you will retain the rights to your idea, provided it’s not picked up.

      If they do pick it up and/or select it to move forward with development, it’s safe to assume that they will acquire the rights to it in an as-yet undetermned manner..

      In any event, always err on the side of caution.

      If you’re inside the industry and want to pitch a concept, you might be better off going through the more traditional and well-trodden paths; a 60 second clip contest isn’t the most professional method of soliciting new ideas.

  • Old Man Father Time

    60 seconds??? Can you even establish a short with enough hooks to promise a good full-length animated series???? Does Nick not have the budget to create 7-minute shorts anymore??? How long do they intend the actual animated series to be once they select a good contender!???? Will that also be 10 minutes????

    • A lot can be achieved in 60 seconds. You gotta think outside the box a little.

      Besides, this is just to pitch and get people excited about the idea. If it’s a HIT in 60sec.s, people’ll want then want 7. Get it?

    • Ryoku

      If you try hard enough, you can have a decent 1 minute short that can be turned into a series.

      All you really need are 2 decent characters that’ll work both ways, and thus your “hooks”.

  • Jon

    Only 10 sixty second shorts?!? Hahaha! Cartoon Network is doing 10 seven minute shorts… All the hassle it is to make something at a studio these days … Compared to making it home… You gotta do better then 60 seconds. Give me a break Nickelodeon!

    • Bezo

      “Cartoon Network is doing 10 seven minute shorts” Past? Present? Future?

      • John

        It’s happening right now.

  • This sounds cool. Best of luck.


    This is pretty surprising coming from Nickelodeon and VIACOM but this is pretty neat. And plus, they’re going to expand on their animation-comedy department. Maybe no more spin offs or long running shows!
    Or have they given up and just finally give the public oppurtuity having no other things to try or just evil-ly lazily looking for new talent in a way so they don’t have to? XD

  • Sounds old school… well, kind-of-recent school, at least.

  • crabjuice

    ‘Characters must be relatable to kids ages 6 to 11 and appeal to both boys and girls. If human, they should be a kid, but not too young. If non-human, they can have a job, their own home, etc. but their mindset should be like a kid and relatable to kids. All submissions must be kid-appropriate.’

    WHYYYY. When I was a kid, I hated cartoons featuring only kids. It’s so restrictive.

    • Kyle Maloney

      Yeah, honestly I would not have attached to Kablam like I did if all the shorts featured “relatable” characters. I wish them luck though. Some of the best Nicktoons have come from this kind of thing. I hope 60 seconds isn’t too much of a handicap though…

    • Chris Sobieniak

      Seems pretty limiting when you think about it. I like the idea of a loser grown-up figure everyone could relate to regardless of age.

    • Mike Russo

      Yeah, THIS right here – THIS mentality – id why I don’t watch Nick anymore.

    • Ryoku

      Its this “your character has to relate to an intended age group” mindset that limits what we can do in our cartoons.

      When I was a kid, I never tried to “relate to” Speed Racer, Rocko, 2 Stupid Dogs, Dexter, or anyone. I just watched and laughed!

  • MG

    Less than 30 days to come up with the Next Big Thing! Sounds more tailored to standup comedians than anything else. Typical corporate suckage.

  • When’s Cartoon Network gonna do this?

    • John

      Cartoon Network is already in the middle of a new shorts program and it’s way better.

      CN’s doing 10 seven minute short and giving creators a total fair shake. Paying folks for a thumbnail board and letting the shows be premise driven. NO SCRIPTS! NO SUPER LONG DEVELOPMENT PROCESS! You just do a board and it’s YES or NO.

      It’s pretty much the same thing as the Cartoonstitute shorts program from a few years back.

      • Mike

        Sounds interesting, John. Could you post a link to the program if possible?

      • Mike

        Okay John, I’ve searched the net for this CN shorts program you mentioned, and I’ve come up with zilch.

        Is it still in the works or what?
        More details, please…

  • Rather wish there was more lead time, but I suppose if you were more plugged in, you would have heard of this by now.

    • Anon

      Nope. Nick, internally, told us about this only last week.

      • Goodness gracious! Then it seems they really just want something you’ve got lying around. That’s not enough time to develop all of what they want to see and work in the meantime.

  • Captain Hollywood

    Man, if I had a quarter for every studio shorts program started… I’d be able to start a studio shorts program.

    • Captain Hollywood – You win the comment of the day.

  • Karl Hungus

    And the end result will be three new Butch Hartman shows for the network…

    • Scarabim

      After which, Nickelodeon will continue to lose viewers!

    • Jorge Garrido

      That’s not true. They could just do a Hartman ripoff show.

  • When they ask for “story treatment” does that mean they want the summary of 4 stories or just an explanation on how the show’s story will progress?

  • GW

    I think the idea is a good start, but they’re pigeonholing people right from the beginning. They’re telling you what genre to work in and what age group you have to appeal to. Why not be more open ended? And 60 second probably isn’t long enough. You’d need at least a couple minutes.

  • Dirge

    One of the uploads they want is “character layouts”


    • Hahahaa… I think the corporates who write these rules don’t know the difference between peg bars and exposure sheets! ;)

      I think by character layouts they mean placing a character on a finished BG (*or simply a colored character drawing)

  • aside from the tight turnaround deadline, I like the idea. 60 second shorts are plenty of time to do some funny stuff. More or less set-up, zig, zag, punchline. In this age of short attention spans I…what was i talking about?

    • This should have been the COMMENT o’ the DAY! :)

    • Isn’t it ‘assumed’ short attention spans? In the same way it is assumed that the characters must be aimed at a certain age group. I agree that you can get where you are going in 60 seconds though

  • Sarah J

    Sounds interesting. Guess it means Nickelodeon is trying to get more animated shows again. That’s good, I’m looking forward to the finished shorts, maybe we’ll get some good stuff.

  • AC

    Half want to do it, half paranoid about work being stolen. 60 seconds is not a long investment if you keep it simple but-I dunno.

    Can anyone enlighten me on the Cartoon Network side of things?

  • Dan

    Is anyone else confused? Do you submit a one minute short or a pitch for a one minute short?

    • Tak

      They’re calling for a general pitch and a strong portfolio of concept materials to back it up, but if you’ve already got a short then I don’t see why you shouldn’t link to that.

    • You pitch for a one minute short.

  • hmmm

    butch hartman will surely be supervising these. and you can expect derivative adventure time like shorts from cartoon network’s program. copy and paste!

  • Ron

    Is Frederator involved in this? I would guess not since they don’t mention it here. Any news on their shorts program coming back? That was a good one.

  • Tak

    Hey everyone… Cheer the %&$K up.
    Reasons to be happy, this is one of them!

  • Julian

    60 seconds? That’s it? What the heck are you going to show in that? A joke? And I have doubts about Nick’s intentions. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve dreamed of having of my own show, and thought this looked too good to be true at first, now I’m thinking it probably is. Nick is not clear on if they get and what they will do with the rights. It’s probably in that legal mumbo jumbo somewhere, but TL:DR for the chance of them actually taking my ideas. I want it to be something the way I made it and written the way my trusted crew wrote it, not a dry wit toy selling machine that I have no control over. So either I waste my time for nothing, or waste it to have my developing idea yanked and turned inside out by someone else. Pass.

  • I’ve worked on over 60 Cartoon Network 5-15 second animated bumpers starring the likes of Dexter, PPG, Men in Black, etc, I can safely say you can showcase a lot in 60 seconds. If you’re a good animator you can manage your time wisely and tell a decent short story. Most of those cool super bowl commercials are only 30 seconds. It can be done.

    • I know, “it’s too short” is such a weird argument. You’re a filmmaker, you can tell a story in any length of time. You can make a one minute short. Be creative.

    • Sax, you are right on the money! Some of the boards I got to work on were so full of stuff, I was amazed that it all made sense and worked after we had completed the animation. I chalk it up to the genius of Dave S. : )

    • AC

      Yeah, I’m 100% fine with the length. says it all.

  • Emily

    “You recognize that other persons including VMN employees may have submitted to VMN or to others or made public, or may hereafter originate and submit or make public, similar or identical material which VMN shall have the right to use, and you understand that you will not be entitled to any compensation because of VMN’s use of such other similar or identical material.”

    This is ugly. I’ve seen the word “similar” used in such a manner, but never “identical.” Hmm…

  • Albert

    60 seconds is not enough. What happened to the amount of time they gave people when they did things like ‘Oh yeah Cartoon’ on Nick a while back when things like Fairly Odd Parents, Dan Danger and the Tantrum? I mean some of the best animators on CN did their best work with more then just 60 seconds so I don’t see why Nick cant do the same.

  • If it was sixty 1-minute shorts, or ten 7-minute shorts, I think this would be pretty cool. I don’t think a mere sixty seconds is enough to determine if a show can hold its own in a 7-minute or half hour cartoon.
    Now if one of the shorts were picked up for a series with the same length of 60 second episodes, then that could work.

    • I don’t know about that. You can get people excited about an idea in 60sec’s. Then you can go to the RACES with show ideas from that… Remember, it needs to be quirky and funny. Seven minutes to express an idea kills it with boredom. Besides, you know kids today with the attention span ;)

  • Ryoku

    So the shorts must take place in one setting and get a “story treatment”?

    If you gave me the time, I could make a pretty humorous 1 minute cartoon, but the story wouldn’t be so great.

    Plus, the “single setting” rule is just pointless, most stories have at least 2 settings regardless of length.

    And finally, if turned into a series Viacom would sue me for drawing characters that I made.

  • Dan O.

    I hate this shit. Seeing a huge studio ask for a hand out disguised as a “contest”
    “hey guys! Give us a pile of FREE development that we’ll own all the rights to and maybe…if you’re lucky…we’ll exploit you and ruin your idea!!!”
    God forbid they pay artists for development.
    What happened? Did Butch Hartman run out of ideas?

    • Nardlypoo

      NO one gets paid to pitch something to a studio, you go in on your own time. My guess is they want a huge mass of submissions to try and find their next Spongebob :I

  • Justin

    From the looks of the guidelines, they know exactly what they want….i guess they just want it done for free…that’s where the “contest” ‘aspect comes in to play. Genious.

  • was my face red.

    Sixty seconds is certainly enough time to make a teaser trail introducing two characters, getting a laff and making a viewer want more, but everyone should beware the use of the word ‘identical’ in the terms and conditions. Sure people have similar ideas all the time, but ‘identical’ ones? That’s absurd and I have never seen that used in a scheme like this before, and there have been many.Exec with nothing to do drafts badly thougt out scheme with short deadline to get some free press and development work?

  • “Characters, if human, they should be a kid, but not too young. If non-human, they can have a job, their own home, etc. but their mindset should be like a kid and relatable to kids.”
    Based upon this request, there’s no chance for characters like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Popeye, Woody Woodpecker, Pink Panther, Fred Flintstone, Droopy, Yogy Bear, Huck Hound, Top Cat, Mickey Mouse,…

  • larry


    • what_in_the_cel

      Sorry Larry, but we do have something like that already in development. Fast Forward 9 months from Larry’s pitch>>> “14 Carrot Gold”. Follow the off-kilter antics of Stacy Gold and her young friends as they frolic through your hearts while tackling friendship, love, and homework. You thought being a kid was tough enough living above ground.

      • Was My Face Red

        Ooo you’re good.

  • Tom

    Just to clarify… they’re asking for a 1 minute pilot because they want to eventually make a series composed of 1 minute episodes, right?

  • This is an interesting topic and I’m not entirely sure what to think of it yet. First of all though, I can see there are some folk who don’t realize the amount of story telling that can be done in 60 seconds. Seriously go watch some Looney Tunes and see the amount of story development that happens in a minute.
    I do however have concerns about VMN’s right to use “identical” material as Emily quoted in her comment. Ultimately though I think this could be a good tangible opportunity to dip your toes in the pitch making water if you are just a beginner in animation. If you are an idea person you should have a few extra’s lying around. Just don’t use your pet project of course.
    And in the worst case paranoid scenario they do re-create your idea identically and give you no credit you can at least know for yourself that it was your idea, know that you do have good ideas, and let it be an inspiration to make a serious pitch down the road with another network…one that may not have such silly limitations as having to make the character either a kid or a kid-like adult animal…hahah. Seriously, why do execs think kids are so dumb? I laugh but it’s actually kind of scary to think that we are probably making them dumb with this kind of nonsense. So I say use this as a way to get your foot in the door, then go make some amazing cartoons to blow this kind of mentality out of the water!