On-line animation creatives take note: One of the people credited with bringing SpongeBob SquarePants to the airwaves believes the program’s successor is waiting to be discovered on the internet. Albie Hecht, the former president of film and television entertainment for Nickelodeon, is currently scouring broadband (and more traditional outlets) for properties to pad the development pipeline at his new prodco, Worldwide Biggies. The six-month-old New York-based company’s goal is to develop and produce family-friendly and YA-skewing CGI and HD content for TV, DTV, broadband and mobile.
Hecht says the high cost of TV and film development has created a risk-averse environment, and true innovators are flocking to the web. ‘Broadband really is the Wild West. People are going to make their fortunes, make their claims,’ Hecht says. ‘There’s risk and reward… and a lot of swearing.’ WWB’s broadband division planted its first flags in the digital landscape, forging deals with Virgin and Cranium in March. However, Hecht can’t yet reveal how these partnerships will play out.
On the production side, Hecht is looking for talented, young animators to support and nurture. He wants creators who can birth truly multi-platform properties and is basing his search on six criteria. The IP must work on both linear and non-linear platforms (repurposing content for one or the other doesn’t count). It must also have learning, connecting, collecting and playful elements. And whether it’s creating properties in-house or supporting small studios, WWB’s is casting its net globally.
Although Hecht is mum on what properties he’s getting ready to pickup, any project subject to his tutelage could end up as a Nickelodeon co-pro thanks to an output deal signed with the cablenet. Although he anticipates some properties will be developed in-house to fit Nick’s requirements, Hecht is aiming to round out the WWB catalogue with independent animation, live action and gaming content created for kids ages two to 17.
‘People who feel they need access to Nick, but feel they don’t have the experience to pull it off, can come under the wing of Biggies,’ he says. And if you’re thinking about pitching Hecht, ideas should be submitted either through a lawyer or an agent. Kari Kim, WWB’s production and development executive, will also field submissions.
Television-length programming isn’t the only format on WWB’s horizon. As the former prez at Nick films, Hecht’s vision encompasses expanding into theatrical. The first film on the slate is Planet One, a reverse-invasion tale set for release in 2008 that tells the story of aliens preparing for a human takeover. Joel Stillman, a writer from the Shrek franchise, is scripting the piece.