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New Talent and the Animation Studio System

When we were filling spots at Nickelodeon for the Rocko special, I noticed the big difference with the way we used to hire and what it has become now. Someone, somewhere within the big huge Conglom-O machine of Nickelodeon, was going through portfolios and deciding who the lucky ones to be sent along to us ( or maybe there was another gatekeeper after the first one). I’m not sure what their criteria was in moving people to the next stage, but I know very experienced and excellent artists applied for the positions through the normal channels and never got beyond that first gate. I know. They told me in frustration. HR departments have also become the main directors of hiring and talent you are allowed to have on your show. Producers seem to have to clear everything through HR. Who you hire and who you fire. In a fast moving production, an ongoing problem can affect 6 episodes by the time it’s fixed. If it’s fixed at all.

I like to hire based on a few different criteria. A wicked talent, yes, but I can also see in a portfolio the ability to think. To explore new ideas. Experience can be good, and bad. Someone with a lot of experience may have bad habits. Or habits that it’s hard to break free of. When I hear “thats the way we always do it” thats a red flag. I like an open mind. Enthusiasm. A bright spirit. And I don’t hire assholes no matter how talented they are.

But what I have seen hiring for Luna, not a lot of studios are giving a chance to the awesome talent that is out there that may not be hitting the right “big studio ” criteria. Artists who couldn’t get a reply from a studio, would come in with awesome talent and I would hire them, Then after working with me for a year, go on to an excellent position at the same studio they couldn’t get a reply from. I’ve hired people from art schools, ( JG Quintel) from Nashville, from Georgia, from coffee shops, from comic books. Indie filmmakers who never worked in television before ( Steve Hillenburg). You never know where they are going to come from. I feel like my studio and some of the other small studios are the only places a new talent can break into the LA system.

Maybe I’m not right about that. I don’t know. But it seems that way.

4 Responses

  1. Joe Murray,I can’t wait for Season 2 of Let’s Go Luna. I hope you got my requests. And in case you didn’t get my address, here it is again, 113 Grove St. Remember, it’s so you can contact me.

  2. Good news Joe, I have another request. Please do an episode about Andy, Carmen and Leo performing at a concert, where there are lots of colorful lights and effects. It would be so awesome.

  3. Outstanding post but I was wondering if you could write a litte more
    on this topic? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate
    a little bit more. Cheers!

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