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“Q. Do you think audiences are ready to see grown-up stories told through animation again?”

February 27th, 2011

A. I’m dying for the PG-13 animated movies and the R-animated movies. Come on, let’s go. The Ralph Bakshi stuff. “Pirates,” in a way, was a PG-13 animated movie. It’s very Harryhausen [Ray Harryhausen, the legendary special-effects creator]. But I think that ‘70s animation was really fantastic. Imagine what we could do now.”

Gore Verbinski (Director: Rango)
in the New York Times, Sunday, February 27, 2011, “Where the Deer and the Chamelon Play”

An interview with director Robert Alvarez.

December 17th, 2010

Photograph of Robert Alvarez @ Cartoon Network by Steve Hulett, 2010    Robert Alvarez

Listen to Robert’s two part interview here and here.

Director & artist Robert Alvarez is one of the great ones, and incredibly important to me (and Frederator). So I was very pleased to listen to the oral history interview posted this week by feature film writer Steve Hulett of Hollywood’s Animation Guild.

As you can hear in the interview, Robert’s wanted to be in the cartoon biz since he was in the 8th grade, he succeeded in getting into the industry very early, and he’s been a thriving, creative stalwart for over 40 years. His imdb page has its first credit as 1969’s animated Winky Dink and You, and he’s worked on the full range of projects from The Smurfs to Samurai Jack (where he got his first Emmy®) right through to Regular Show.  You really can’t keep a good man down. Every new generation of talent is eager to make their own mark on the business and looks skeptically on the people who came before them, as if they’re somehow not good enough for their masterpieces. After initial doubts, Robert has won over every new group of creators that have invigorated cartoons for the almost 20 years I’ve known him. He’s done it with his skills, certainly, but it might be his patience, excitement, and generosity that have most triumphed.

When I arrived at Hanna-Barbera in 1992, Robert was one of the veterans who’s respect I seriously desired. He was the real deal, a talented, serious professional who was also a complete animation fanboy. If only I could convince him that my plans for the studio weren’t frivolous or mercenary. We had a minor tussle early on, when he thought I might be treating the characters recklessly and I think he was convinced my love for them was genuine. But, it was after he started working with Pat Ventura on his first short for us that we really bonded. I was extremely proud that Robert went on to create Pizza Boy and Tumbleweed Tex for What A Cartoon! (He’s nice enough to mention moi in the second part of the interview, talking about the changes we brought to Hanna-Barbera.)

I want to put in a word for the Animation Guild and its Business Representative Steve Hulett too.  There’s probably no institution more dedicated to keeping show business animation alive than the Guild (no, not Disney or Pixar), and Steve’s right at the front of the line. I was once a Doubting Thomas having grown up throughout my life in management (my parents owned their own business, and I’ve been running companies for quite a few years) and having had a few particularly unpleasant run-ins with a past Guild president. But, now I send every single new Hollywood animation arrival straight over to Steve. I know he’s there to make everyone’s entry into the industry as smooth and productive as possible, and that the Guild runs classes and events designed to broaden everyone’s skills and networking possibilities. They’re a bunch of solid citizens over there, and I encourage everyone with an interest to check out their site and blog as often as possible. We’re all indebted.

And I love these oral histories, four of which are posted on the blog now. Keep ‘em coming Steve, we’re all waiting.

Interview: director/author David B. Levy

September 17th, 2009

Dave Levy
David B. Levy with cartoon luminaries at the ASIFA-East/Frederator screening, 2007

I wrote a little bit about Dave Levy’s new book, Animation Development: From Pitch to Production the other day and thought it might be good to hear a little directly from the author.

Your first book, Your Career in Animation: How to Survive and Thrive, was so much richer than most “how to” industry books, incorporating the universal lessons you’ve observed from two lifetimes (yours and your Dad’s) in the animation industry. Was it harder to apply those same learnings to development?

DL: I think in many ways this new book was easier to write because of its focus to one specific area of animation. Easier to write, but somehow it took longer to write. Since I only had one subject to cover, I had to make sure no stone was left unturned. My only compass was to bust all the myths that cloud up the reality of pitching and development, which keep people from achieving their dream. I think it really helps that I have gone through the process myself as well having interviewed the major players from both sides of the table.

Both books use the same conversational approach loaded with real anecdotes from the field. I once bought a book on the business of animation that didn’t mention the name of a single film, show, or creator. As you can imagine, it was a very dull read. I prefer to give the reader actual examples––showing success stories as well as cautionary tales.

Is there a ‘Top 3′ list of do’s and don’ts?

DL: How about a ‘Top 4′ of each?

Do:

• develop relationships with other artists and writers as well as with development executives. It’s a people business, and in the end…networks buy creators not ideas. Attend animation festivals and events in addition to maintaining your online presence on facebook, personal websites, etc.

• work on other creators’ shows first. A would-be creator needs real working experience in the industry to learn the ins-and-outs of how an animated TV series is made from the ground up. A network will need proof that you know how to produce your vision into the final product.

• engage in other creative outside-of-work pursuits besides creating pitches. Make films, comic books, paintings, photography, etc… This is important because an artist/writer also needs to develop his or her voice outside of the commercial arena.

• learn from your mistakes. What didn’t work about that last pitch meeting or project? Every attempt has something to teach you if you get in the habit of introspection. We can’t as easily change what is wrong with animation development today, but we can certainly train ourselves to be more effective at presenting ourselves and our projects.

Don’t:

• have a sense of entitlement. Just because you have put together a pitch doesn’t mean it’s the right fit at that exact moment in time, with the right executive at the right network. Treat each pitch and encounter as another step in the journey. Stephen Hillenburg has said that all he was trying to do with his first pitch meeting at Nickelodeon was to interest them in a second meeting.

• hold unrealistic expectations no matter what you hear. A promise, a word, or a handshake is not a written contract. Your project is not in development until the network is willing to write you a check.

• put all your eggs in one basket. No one opportunity is THE opportunity. No pitch meeting is the one that will make or break your success. Develop your talents over the long term and treat pitching as one branch of that adventure. With that attitude, you might even enjoy the ride.

• pitch for the sake of pitching. The goal to have an animated series is a very specific one that requires an unusual set of skills. As Amid Amidi said at my book event on September 15, “Ask yourself, ‘Why am I pitching? Why do I want my own series?’

What’s with development executives? Why won’t they say ‘yes’ to some good shows for once?

DL: There are examples of executives that said ‘yes’ to some good shows. But, it would be a mistake to assume that every executive has the right agenda or even the good sense to spot good when it’s under his or her nose. I think that more executives should understand what truly makes a good show. You can’t create the next SpongeBob-sized hit by making of list of what ingredients made up SpongeBob and then imitating as many of those as possible. SpongeBob wasn’t born that way. It was the brainchild of Stephen Hillenburg who was swimming (pun intended) in surf culture and had a background in marine biology. And, he channeled those interests through his unique point of view. The point is that Hillenburg’s show came from his heart and that passion connected with audiences in a major way. That’s the lesson for executives, not what surface details can be spotted and copied in that show.

There are so many talented artists in the world. What makes the difference between one who doesn’t get a series and one who does?

DL: There are lots of talented artists out there, but very few seem to be suited to creating, selling, and producing an animated series, let alone a hit animated series. But that doesn’t mean to say that more people can’t develop their skills to that end. After all, was Matt Groening ready to create “The Simpsons” at the start of his career? And, sometimes through collaboration artists and writers can create something greater than the sum of the individual parts.

Happily, all shows (hits or not) depend on the fine work of animation artists, writers, musicians, actors, etc… so even without a show to their own name, they are an important part of what might have made someone else’s show shine. And, real industry experience is one of the most important prerequisites to serious pitching in the first place.

The artist that breaks through to having his or her own series will likely meet three requirements: a unique point of view, a facility with and interest in characters and their interactions with each other and their world, and will be good salesperson, knowing how to present a project (to demonstrate execution) even in the early stage of a pitch bible.

Is getting a show on the air as treacherous as it seems?

DL: Creators (me included) make it much harder on ourselves. We are the ones who need to set our own expectations to a reasonable level. Case in point: I was recently the supervising animator on a prime time pilot created by an established creator for a major network. Since then, the network gave him an air date for his series, paired him with an experienced producer, and ordered several scripts. When I tried to congratulate the creator, he cautiously responded, “Yeah, well…we’ll see.”

I was very impressed with his answer because it shows his understanding of what development really is. Nothing is a sure thing until it is. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dare to dream…but, it does mean that you should manage your expectations and not take each thing you hear as something that is set in stone.

Why can’t I own my own show?

DL: There are people that do make shows where they retain ownership. Larry Schwarz of Animation Collective is a good example of a creator raising funds through private investors and then using the networks as a means of distribution. But, this model comes with its own risks. I don’t think an individual can match the promotional power of a Viacom or a Turner, so I think the desire to own your own show may actually cost you the very success you’re after.

A cautionary tale happened not so long ago when another New York studio used private investors to fund their series. Despite the fact that a network agreed to air the show, the investors pulled out before the first episode even left the assembly line and the series was left dead in its tracks.

Yes, most networks will expect creators to sign away their ownership rights, but, it’s not as black and white as that. Creators are paid a purchase price when their project goes to series. Additionally, there are weekly salaries for their services on a series, back-end participation, episode bonuses, and other perks. I would rather see my show get made and seen by a broad audience, then own it outright and have it sitting in a drawer somewhere.

What’s the one thing most people get wrong about animation development?

DL: I think so much of the anger and frustration is simply unnecessary. Some creators are seething with anger out a belief that someone is blocking their path. In truth, no development executive has that power, unless you give it to them. A creator’s obligation is to develop his or her own talent to the point where the executives come looking for them. Dan Yaccarino (the creator of Nick Jr.’s “Oswald,”) is one such example. Nick Jr didn’t pick up his first pitches so he turned them into children’s books which became so popular that Nick Jr subsequently green lit his series.

Amid Amidi, of Cartoon Brew, and I sparred over this point at my book launch panel. He explained that lots of L.A. industry creators complain to him that their pilots didn’t go forward to series, which made them fed up with pitching and development and realize that they should try to apply their creativity to comics or children’s books instead. In reality, these creators are in a very enviable position. They are professionals being paid to work in the art form they love. And, they got a couple of pilots made! So what if the pilots proved to be dead ends? I don’t see this as proof of why one should never pitch.

On the other end of the spectrum, Carl W. Adams (co-creator of [adult swim]’s “Assy McGee“) believes that no pitch meeting is ever a waste of time because each meeting helps form a relationship and can lead to making even more contacts. If that’s the case (and I do believe it is), then it’s certainly not been a waste of time for the above creators to have made a few pilots. How many of us would like to fail on that level? It is on the shoulders of these creators to capitalize on their pilots and consolidate that talent/effort/experience to an even bigger success. It’s their job to do so, not the executive who didn’t green light their pilot to series.

While its fun to speculate, complain, and point out the many obvious things wrong with the development process, you have to wonder (after a while) where that will get you. A wiser move would be to keep investing in your own talents. That has a way of taking you places. And this is a theme that comes up again and again in my new book.

Thanks Dave.

“What’s your favorite color?”

February 28th, 2009

Frederator Filmmaker Interviews

The other day I was enjoying some of the interviews Eric and Bailee have been posting, which kicked me to reading some of Jeaux’s and Mike Milo’s and Floyd’s, and it got me wondering. I know we’ve run almost 400 films on Channel Frederator and that we’d interviewed a lot of under exposed filmmakers and artists… But, how many exactly?

One hundred and forty five. Right, 145. And they keep on coming.

There aren’t too many places that play such close attention to the people making animated films, unless they’re Walt Disney or John Lasseter (not that there’s anything wrong with that). And while we can’t begin ton compare our archive to some of the in depth work done by folks like Michael Barrier, Amid Amidi, Jerry Beck, and others, it’s a darn good start I think.

We’re going to keep it up. In addition to the weekly Channel Frederator animated filmmakers, I’ve always thought the dedicated folks who work day to day in our crews deserve a spotlight, and we’ve started that up with the Fanboy & Chum Chum crew. Adventure Time’s crew will be coming up, and we’re going to try and backtrack into our shows like The Fairly Oddparents and Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!

And don’t be surprised when you start reading interviews with some of the (truly) misunderstood production crew and network executives that work on our shows. It takes a lot of people to make even one film, and I think we should try and get to know a little more about them all.

If you’re interested in getting in on the action, we’re always looking for new interviewers too, it’s a lot of work to keep this effort going. If you’re interested, just drop a note to our New York producer Carrie Miller, and she’ll try and get you going.

On Bloomberg.

November 25th, 2008


Find more videos like this on Channel Frederator RAW

Bloomberg Television made a terrible mistake and booked me as the first guest on their new show ‘Venture’: The World of Entrepreneurship in October. The host Mike Schneider was much better than I was, and the entire staff (including associate producer Nikole Yinger) was fantastic to work with. It was a great experience; it’s rare for someone like me to be featured in a solid half hour interview, Charlie Rose style. And once again marveled at the power of media when I got emails from around the world after the show aired across the weekend. I know, I know, I’m in the media, but when you get hit with it from an obscure appearance it’s always amazing.

Comix and Pen.

June 18th, 2008


There’s a great interview with Pendleton Ward on ComixTalk, a catch up from when he did a lot of web comics.

A sample:

Are you still creating new comics?

I took down those old comics because they were terrible.

The New Golden Age of Animation.

December 13th, 2007

0470048441.jpg

My inspiration and friend Steven Heller has written what seems like his 1000th book on graphic design called Becoming a Digital Designer (with David Womack). He conducted an interview with NNN founder Tim Shey (which was particularly inspirational to Tim, who’s been a Steve fan himself for years) and one with me.
…..
The New Golden Age of Animation
An Interview with Fred Seibert, president of Frederator, New York City

Q: There was a golden age of animation with Ren and Stimpy and Beavis and Butthead back in the 1990s. Are we still in the golden age?

Fred: I guess I might refer to a “silver age” of animation we’re in; it’s hard for me to believe — as good as the creative period we’re in — anything could be as good as the years that gave us Looney Tunes, Tom and Jerry, Felix, Donald Duck, Pinocchio, and all the others. That being said…

It’s been an amazing fifteen years, and there’s no end in sight. Original cartoons are still on the rise. First The Simpsons, then R&S, B&B, and Rugrats. South Park, Dexter’s Laboratory, The Powerpuff Girls, Cow and Chicken, Johnny Bravo. And just within the last four years: The Fairly Oddparents, Jimmy Neutron, and the first megastar of the age, the modern Bugs Bunny, SpongeBob. In the wings: My Life as a Teenage Robot, ChalkZone, and The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy. And many people would think I’m narrow-minded if I ignored features like Toy Story and Finding Nemo.

The business of television began a seismic change in the eighties, which really became mature in the nineties, and that maturity created the circumstances that allowed for a revival of animation as a powerful commercial art form. In 1983, the average home in America has four channels of television; by 1988 that same home had twenty-seven channels (and many had fifty or more). Competitive pressures to launch mass-appeal programming forced cable networks to create, and then create some more; the traditional broadcast networks were fiddling while their symbolic Rome burned.

Q: Actually, weren’t new viewers roaming over to an increased number of more interesting stations?

Fred: The broadcasters still had the largest audiences and made the most money, so there was laughter at what they thought were amateur efforts from the upstarts; the loss of audience share the traditional networks were experiencing were considered negligible. Meanwhile, the cables were learning the new craft of show business, saving their money for programming production war chests, and realizing that innovating past the stale network fare was the way to capture the audience attention.

All in all, the ambitions of a creatively pent-up creative community, and the force of new cable-centric capitalism, met in an explosion of innovation we’re still feeling today.

Q: The bar seems to have been pushed higher on TV and film. Kids’ fare is much more adventurous. Does this mean that the market for challenging animation is large?

Fred: The audience isn’t stupid, no matter what executives think. Given the choice between Hanna-Barbera’s The Snorks and Hanna-Barbera’s Dexter’s Laboratory, they can recognize the superior comedy.

That being said, I’m not so sure the market is actually larger than it was before the cable age; the population is marginally larger and still watching the same amount of TV weekly. But the competitive environment — jeez! An average of more than one hundred channels are trying to get a piece of your viewing time. In the past, a network looked forward to a 30 percent share of the audience for a hit; now it’s happy with 5 percent (and 1 percent or 2 percent for cable!). The result is that each program and each channel has to fight harder and harder with every character and every story.

Before 1980, the viewer has no choice; if you wanted to watch cartoons, maybe watching crappy ones was better than nothing. Today the audience must be satisfied, they truly can watch another show, or watch a DVD, or go online and find cartoons there.

Q: You’ve been in the forefront of new animation. How do you find new talent?

Fred: Isn’t that the magic question? Ten years ago I didn’t need to look far. In the trenches of the animation business were hundreds of classically trained animators who were toiling on the Yo Yogi! (the adventures of a teenage Yogi Bear, hangin’ at the mall) or Fish Police. These folks were dying to save the business they had trained their whole lives to join. We would put out the word we were seriously interested in the animator’s stories (for forty years the creative people were merely the hands of management’s ideas); over five thousand pitches were presented for our first set of forty-eight short films. And dozens of world-class hits were launched.

Today, our net has extended significantly wider because our competition has caught on and also scooped up the most available talent. There are many American and international cities with centers of cartooning that haven’t participated in the new hit boom. We’re busy setting up development centers all around the world.

Q: How did the artists of the golden age achieve their successes? And does this open the door even wider for students today?

Fred: As you might imagine, there are lots of parallels, but plenty of differences between the golden age and today.

In the first half of the twentieth century, it was a dog-eat-dog world in animation, though it had a true innocence. Many artists looked to animation as a career because it employed so many more men (it was primarily men, white men at that) than any other cartooning outlet. But there was no formal training, so he had to find a job at a studio that was willing to train him, teach him the rudiments of a new art form (actually, sometimes he needed to invent the steps). He had to figure out how to draw, animate, sure, but also how to tell a story, a funny story, with characters that were better than the competition.

And until the 1940s there was not even any geographic center; New York and California had the most successful studios, with Chicago and Miami weighing in, too. The employment network was fueled by friendships, often started in childhood or nurtured at the entry-level studios, and often an artist friend dragged in a completely untrained, talented friend and helped him become a story man, or a production manager. Additionally, all aspects of an animated film were made on-site, so there was a lot of room to train as an in-betweener, a model or layout artist, or as an animator before debuting as a director, trying to take a shot at the golden ring.

Q: What’s the role of the school today, as opposed to the old apprentice system?

Fred: Now there are schools to do the initial training, so few studios use their scarce resources to start talent. And while we do most of the creative production in the studio, layouts and animation are often done off shore, so there are fewer opportunities for artists than in the day. And we expect even entry-level artists to have a minimum standard of skill.

But the market is more open to more kinds of people than ever before. While it’s still a white man’s world, walk through any major studio and you’ll see men and women, African-Americans, Latinos, and Latinas, Asians, Africans.

Q: What must a student have in his gut to be a great cartoon creator? Is it enough just to have skill?

Fred: You know, then and now, the elements of success are pretty similar in cartoons:

Talent: You’ve got to have “it.” I’ll let biologists and psychologists explain what “it” is.

Skill: Animation is an exacting proposition, commercial animation even more so. If you can’t draw, you can’t play. And if you can’t draw, storytelling and directing in cartoons is all that much harder.

Ambition: The most ephemeral, the most ignored, the most misunderstood element of a great creator. The person who wants commercial success brings an extra oomph to his or her films. Trying to appeal to an audience, communicating with their hopes, dreams, and funny bones, is the magic of the modern world. I’ve always admired the Beatles because they had the desire to create great art that didn’t intrude with their craving to amass great fortunes. Great cartoons are motivated by no less.

Q: What does the future hold for kids who are studying cartooning and animation today?

Fred: Whatever they want.

Answers.

November 1st, 2007

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“If I could just take a brief moment of your time. I am a second year animation student currently studying at Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication in the U.K. As part my course I have to complete a case study report on a company of my choice, and I have chosen Frederator. I think your company is terrific and I have visited your website frequently. Your motto for why you make cartoons, because there fun is an inspiration to me. You have been responsible for some of the best cartoons on television.

“The purpose of the unit is to explore the internal and external structure of a company, to understand it’s market position, operational processes and professional role.

“If you would be so kind and complete the enclosed questionnaire, it would be of great help to my report.

“Thank you so much for your time.”

I’m sure some of you might feel like I’ve sugarcoated the answers here for this student. I’m hoping my colleagues would agree I’m being as true to life as possible.
…..
Please briefly explain why the company was created and what is the main purpose of Frederator?

After a 5 year run as President of Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, developing the studio’s first slate of hits in over a decade, Nickelodeon asked me to bring my development approach to their network. Frederator believed that children’s animation had devolved into an endless stream of animated situation comedies where concept and writers had become more important than animators. And we believed animators wanted to make ‘cartoons,’ not unlike the great films of the 30s and 40s like Looney Tunes.

Our motto is “Original Cartoons since 1998.” Primarily, we’re interested in making cartoons that spring from the vision of an animation artist, and would rather avoid adapting books, movies, comics, or live-action television shows. We just want to make funny cartoons.
……
What are the main departments of Frederator?

We do not keep an active full service studio. Instead, we work in multiple fashions, often with production partners who provide studio space and overhead.

Currently, in Hollywood we keep development offices at Nickelodeon’s animation studio and Film Roman. In New York, we have a development office that also produces Flash cartoons.
……
How do you go about commissioning projects and what happens afterwards?

This question is probably too long to go into in detail but briefly:

We don’t ‘commission,’ or ‘develop’ in a traditional way. Generally, for television and the internet, we start with making shorts, cartoons under seven minutes long. We call on the animation community around the world (through our blogs and newsletters, through Channel Frederator, and in person) to create a storyboard of the film they’d like to make with us. They pitch us in person at one of our offices in Hollywood or New York. If our team (three to six people) agrees to go forward, we immediately negotiate a budget and royalty participation and begin production. All our shorts are “creator driven,” that is, they are the result of one artist’s (or creative team’s) vision, and are produced under that creator’s direct supervision.

We produce our children’s cartoons for Nickelodeon and adult cartoons for Channel Frederator.

For feature films, we identify projects from a variety of sources, but all films are also a direct result of a creator’s vision. The movie might be a result of one of our original shorts, or from a filmmaker we’ve worked with over the past 15 years.
…..
On a project, what are the usual production costs?

There are no “usual production costs.” Each medium, each company, and each filmmaker establish a budget level appropriate to their needs.
…..
Do you feel that you have much competition, seeing as that you partner exclusively with Nickelodeon?

Our competition is enormous, mainly with ourselves. There are hundreds of cartoons made every year, and each one of them has the potential to successfully compete.

To be clear, our “exclusive” with Nickelodeon is only for children’s television in the United States.
…..
What work ethics do you value most important at Frederator?

Gee, that’s a big question, so for now I’m going to avoid the ethical values implicit there, since I believe they’re what you’d hope (honesty, integrity, respect, etcetera).

Clearly, we believe in the supremacy of a filmmaker’s vision of a project and its execution. We primarily work with animation artists who create, write, design, direct and/or produce their own characters and stories.

The audience is the master we’re most faithful to. Our films are not “art” in the sense of pure self expression, but meant to be enjoyed by a wide audience of viewers. Their happiness and love for our characters is the most important thing of all.

And, we’re respectful of our distributors, exhibitors, and financial partners and their investments in our cartoons.
…..
What is the work environment like at Frederator?

I’ve always said that in business I’d like to:

• Have fun.

• Make money.

• Feel great about the colleagues I work with every day.

When we’re doing well at our job, our environment reflects those three things.
…..
What skills do you look for in employees?

That’s a tough question, because it’s actually pretty vague. Different jobs require different skills and skill levels. Basically, I like the magical and sometimes paradoxical combination between motivated self starters and smoothly collaborative team members.
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Generally, how many employees do you hire in a year and are they permanent staff, or just freelancers for the length of a project?

Currently, the permanent staff at Frederator Studios is five, counting me (Channel Frederator is part of a separate company and is staffed independently of the studio). Everyone else comes and goes with the needs of productions.
…..
What kind of incentives and rewards do you offer employees?

None of your business.

Seriously, we look for every way we can to reward our colleagues. Creative latitude tops the first 100 spaces on the list. Then, generous health benefits (very important in the U.S.), relaxed vacation schedules and work hours, and competitive salaries and participations.

But mostly, we thrive on our abilities to let creative people, whether they’re executives, creators, or production staff, to optimize their working environment to be as productive as they can possibly be.
…..
Frederator’s main outputs are children’s animated television programmes for Nickelodeon’s core audience of 2-11 year olds but I read that you are also entering other fields, such as feature films. What is the current progress of this?

We launched the original cartoon podcast, Channel Frederator (http://channelfrederator.com), primarily targeted at adults in November 2005. And the world’s first pre-school video podcast, The Wubbcast (http://wubbcast.com) in March 2006.

In July 2007, we announced the formation of Frederator Films, with three animated movies to go into production: Samurai Jack (stereoscopic 2D; written and directed by Genndy Tartakovsky), The Neverhood (claymation; written and directed by Doug TenNapel) and Seven Deadly Sins (Flash; written and directed by Dan Meth).

In September 2007 we launched our first cartoon series of shorts for adults, The Meth Minute 39, which is distributed through our sister, Channel Frederator.
…..
Frederator has a thriving Internet community with Channel Frederator and the Frederator blogs. What are the reasons behind this form of communication?

The community of Hollywood animators has long been limited by geography and constituency (primarily the US television networks and movie studios). After spending the first 20 years of my career working with the independents of the world, I was feeling a little constrained by the kinds of films Hollywood limited us to. I have a family and a business so traveling throughout the world meeting new people was a bit impractical, so I realized blogging was a perfect vehicle to “meet” new people. it’s exceeded my expectations.
…..
You encourage student animation, with the online Channel Frederator and the annual Nicktoons animation festival. Do you feel very passionate about animation students and do you encourage them in any other way, if so how?

I vividly remember starting out and looking everywhere for inspiration, advice, and direction. I felt like I could conquer the world with the right push. Many people stepped up to help me (<a target=”_blank” href=”http://frederatorblogs.com/frederator_studios/2007/09/22/bob-altshuler-rip/here’s a remembrance of one of them) and the only way I’ve been able to pay them back is to offer the same encouragement to as many young people as I can fit into my life. I talk at as many school classes as I can visit, in any city I can get to, and to dozens of individuals who come by the office to visit.

Aside from the stories I can offer, I’m well aware students are my colleagues of the future. The first classes I spoke to when I entered animation are still poplulating my productions, often with the most talented and advanced members of our teams. And right now there’s a storyboard artist on one of our shows I befriended at the School of Visual Arts in New York in 2005.

Alex Kirwan was a high school student in Duluth, Minnesota, when he entered a storyboarding contest we ran. He chose not to enter university and became an apprentice for us a Hanna-Barbera and became the first artist on our staff at Oh Yeah! Cartoons) at 18 years old.

Our most stunning student-to-professional success was from a Rhode Island School of Design student one of my executives met in 1994 and brought to Hollywood right after graduation. He made his first professional short for us and his second one too. During the production of the “Zoomates” short, Seth MacFarlane started work on “Family Guy.”
…..
Finally, do you have any other information to add; that you feel could help with my case study report?

I think you’ve about got it covered. Good luck.

Best, Fred Seibert

Videoblogging at Pixelodeon.

June 24th, 2007

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I mentioned Eric and I were going to the first Pixelodeon at AFI a few weeks ago. I met founder/organizer/force of nature Irina Slutsky whose day job is the very cool video blog you may have seen: Geek Entertainment TV. She anointed me one of the fanciest people at Pixelodeon on the beautiful AFI patio.


Click To Play

If you think of it, buy her ultra-swift I Was Internet Famous Once t-shirt, you’ll be glad you did.
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