Nickelodeon Studio
Eleven CSUF animation students – finalists for Nickelodeon scholarships – gather with alumni who work at Nickelodeon Studios prior to the finalists pitching their ideas for 60-second animated shorts. The three winners – Christopher Allison, Sean Kreiner and Mike Williams – will receive $5,000 and at least one will see his film appear on cable.

Just a Minute and So Much More...

Three Titans Win Scholarships for Animation Efforts

September 18, 2006

by Gail Matsunaga

It was a chance to show the pros what they had. At the invitation of Nickelodeon Animation Studio, students pursuing animation careers pitched their ideas for 60-second animated shorts. The winning entries would each receive $5,000 scholarships — $2,500 to develop their projects and the remaining $2,500 upon completion. At least one of the films will air on the Nickelodeon cable channel next year as a one-minute “bumper” between shows.

Christopher Allison, Sean Kreiner and Mike Williams won scholarships and are now in the midst of producing their works. In addition, Nickelodeon is providing professional voice talent, composers and some post-production assistance.

Prep for Presentation
CSUF students prepare storyboards for review at Nickelodeon Studios for three $5,000 scholarships.

Senior B.F.A. art student Allison’s film “Cafeteria Crush” is about a little boy who spies the “perfect girl” in the school cafeteria and decides to make her a valentine. He’s creating the short using hand-drawn animation — a style that he’d like to continue after graduating.
“I want to go into traditional animation, even though the odds are against me,” Allison says, referring to the popularity and profusion of computer-generated animation.

Allison recently completed an internship at Hollywood-based Titmouse animation studio, where he worked on an AM/PM commercial.

Of his first-time experience “selling” an idea to a studio, Allison says, “I should have been nervous, but I practiced so much. I think everyone got sick of me because I pitched it so much.”

Tim Clark Prepares
Tim Clark reviews his materials prior to the review.

“That’s the Way the Kitty Crumbles” is the title of Kreiner’s two-character, hand-drawn animated short, which he says is “a throwback to all the cartoons I grew up with and loved. I’m making a carton that I enjoy seeing and hope that others will too.”

A senior working toward his B.F.A. in art, Kreiner, with fellow students Allison, Williams and others, have created Katzenjammer Studios. “Our goal is to make our own cartoons — to share with people. Although working at a studio wouldn’t be half bad.”

Pitching his idea to Nickelodeon was a first for him as well. “At first, it was nerve-wracking, trying to go into it with confidence. I tried not to stress out and have fun with my story. They asked a lot of questions — what my goals were. It was really exciting, really fun, but stressful too.”

Kramer and Paetz get animated
Team Ryan Kramer and Aaron Paetz get really animated in their presentation of their idea for an animated short.

Unlike Allison and Kreiner, M.F.A. design student Williams “actually interned at Nickelodeon for nine months and have done some freelance work for them.” His talents can be seen on the cable channel’s series “Catdog” and “Catscratch.”

Currently, he’s working on his graduate show, in addition to his hand-drawn animated short: a salesman hawking penguins in an infomercial gone horribly wrong.

According to Alison Mann, a recruiter for Nickelodeon Animation Studio, “We were looking to start a program that would reach out to students to give them a real idea of what it would be like to be a creator in a professional studio environment.

Nickelodeon Judges
Nickelodeon judges are rarely surprised by anything any more...

“We chose Cal State Fullerton, because we felt there is such a large amount of talented students who go to that school, and we knew if we did the contest with them they would exceed our expectations — which they have!”

More than 50 students/student teams pitched their ideas to faculty members last spring, says Dana Lamb, professor of art. The best 25 concepts were selected and presented by the students to Nickelodeon during an on-campus visit. The groups were pared down to the top 11 individuals/teams, who went to the Burbank-based studio to pitch their projects to Nickelodeon management.