Budding animators will get the chance to get their shorts funded by Sony Pictures Animation under a just-launched incubator project with the YouTube channel Cartoon Hangover, which is part of Fred Seibert’s Channel Frederator online multi-channel network.
Sony and Cartoon Hangover are launching GO! Cartoon to capture up-and-coming talent and give them a pipeline into Sony’s animation operations. The incubator will pick a dozen creators from online submissions, with Sony financing a short by each to appear on the GO! Cartoon channel. At least one will be turned into a limited series for the channel, said Sony Pictures Digital Production President Bob Osher.
“Fred found a whole pool of talent that just…transparency (to artists) for the studios was hard,” said Osher of Seibert’s past animation incubator efforts on cable TV and online. “So many of them are so talented and have a story and things they want to do. Many of them are so talented, and we want to take advantage of that right away. For us, it’s a chance to expand our relationship with Fred, find new talent, give us access to them. He’s always been charmed that way (in finding new talent), but he works hard at it. “
The project deepens the long-term production relationship between the organizations, as well as the personal and professional ties between Osher and Seibert. Seibert is a serial pioneer of animation programming on new distribution platforms, from cable networks MTV, Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon to Tumblr.com and Frederator, which has been creating animation for the web and traditional outlets for nearly a decade. More recently, Frederator used Kickstarter to raise a record $850,000 to fund the recently debuted Bee & PuppyCat from Natasha Allegri. That show has garnered 4 million online views since its debut two weeks ago.
Channel Frederator now has nearly 1,000 channels in its YouTube network, and also creates features and TV shows for traditional outlets such as Adventure Time on Cartoon Network. The new arrangement echoes what Seibert and Osher did while working at Turner Broadcasting Networks two decades ago. Then, Seibert was courting up-and-coming talent through Cartoon Network showcases for their one-off shorts, and compiling them into anthology shows that later spun off into series.
Osher credited the Cartoon Network incubator programs with uncovering future stars such as Genndy Tartakovsky, the animation wizard behind ’90s- and ’00s-era hits such as Dexter’s Laboratory, Powerpuff Girls and Samurai Jack. More recently, Tartakovsky was director of Sony animated feature Hotel Transylvania and its upcoming sequel.
“Bob and I thought there might be a more direct match where we can use our approach on Cartoon Network and move (promising talent) over to feature in a more rapid and more interesting way,” Seibert said. “I’m certainly excited about it and think the talent community will be thrilled by it. The cross-pollination gives us huge opportunities to develop, together, both talent and properties. It’s not lost on anyone that Walt Disney trained himself and everyone else (at Disney in the early years) on short films in the ’20s and ’30s before they even tried to do feature films.”
Cartoon Hangover has more than 1.3 million subscribers on YouTube, part of the nearly 1,000 channels within the Frederator MCN, which dates back to 2005 and YouTube’s earliest days.
“The fact that Sony has jumped aboard is testament to their forward thinking,” Seibert said. “We’re figuring out what is in the primordial ooze of what’s out there. From my perspective…it is a huge evolutionary step for a feature company to make this kind of commitment.”
A dozen 5-minute shorts will be produced, with one a month released on Cartoon Hangover. Osher said one project will be picked to become a limited series that also will run on Cartoon Hangover, but if other particularly worthwhile projects are posted, Sony will back them too, with hands-on support if that’s what a creator needs.
“Once people are picked, and if they need the support, that will be available to them,” said Osher.