Report – Commissioner Conversations: Nickelodeon and Turner
In a session sponsored by A Productions, the ‘big cheeses’ of animation from Nickelodeon and Tuner got together to discuss how to get your project on their desks, and once it’s there, what it takes to seal the deal.
- Nickelodeon and Turner generally look for content that is character driven, non-prescriptive, and communicates a sense of adventure.
- The companies are very interested in the production of local content with ‘global legs’.
- Be creative: there are no set rules on how a piece of content needs to manifest itself. We have entered the era of the ‘networked society’ and content is no longer restrained to a linear series – games, clips, shorts, etc…are all options as well.
As per Alison Bakunowich and Nina Hahn, a great Nickelodeon show can be boiled down to an unbridled sense of adventure and a great character dynamic. In order to illustrate exactly what that means the audience were shown clips of two of the network’s new projects: Becca’s Bunch, which launched in the UK this week, and Pony, a series currently in development and ultimately set to debut in the US market.
According to Nina, in terms of content, Nickelodeon has been looking for the same thing since day one: shows that are “authentic, visually diverse, funny and emotional”. Those looking to pitch their concepts to the station are encouraged to adhere to the following equation: simple + broad + emotional.
Potential collaborators were encouraged to try and place themselves in the shoes of a programmer prior to the pitch and think about how their concept would fit in with the wider Nickelodeon framework. It is also beneficial to approach the endeavour as a partnership, finding a balance between how the Nickelodeon machine can help your brand and vice versa.
Cecilia Perrson and Zia Bales from Turner echoed the above, saying Turner is generally drawn to ideas that are surprising, unique and not afraid to push the envelope. However, their main concern is authenticity. As noted by Cecilia, “kids are clever, they sense when something is genuine and when you’re coming from a genuine position”. As a result, the more tangible the passion behind a project, the better it generally performs.
As far as the actual pitch goes, get in contact in whatever way you can: send an email or perhaps ‘casually’ bump into them somewhere at the conference – there are no rules or deadlines, just don’t try and pitch to them in the toilet!
And remember, while its true that comedy prevails in children’s entertainment, making them laugh is only half the battle, the real challenge is then to develop characters and storylines that genuinely speak to and connect with children.
Written by Abrielle Newton
Nickelodeon UK and Ireland, NEE and Milkshake!
SVP and General Manager
Senior Acquisitions Manager Kids EMEA
Senior Vice President, International Production and Development
Vice President , Programming and content strategy, Turner EMEA Kids, Acquisitions and Co-Production International
Producer, BBC Children’s Acquisitions and Independent Animation
Founder & Director