Fred Seibert, president of Channel Frederator, did not mince words when he described today’s animation landscape during his headlining Q & A session at KidScreen Summit on Thursday afternoon.
‘It’s dull as dishwater,’ he told Rita Street, president of Radar Cartoons, and the crowd in the Hilton’s West Ballroom.
Seibert, former president of Hanna-Barbera, and famously MTV’s first employee, described what he believes to be a five-year lull in the animation industry after titles such as Fairly Odd Parents hit the small screen. The downswing, as Seibert sees it, is a perfect time to try something new, and that is exactly what he set out to do when he joined partners to form Next New Networks in late 2006, with the bold goal to create, brand and distribute 101 micro-niche television offerings.
While Next New Networks is, as the name indicates, new, Seibert still looks to the past to find inspiration on how to launch a successful property.
‘The first Bugs Bunny wasn’t a pilot,’ he said. ‘Pilots get loaded up with all the things that execs think you have to have. I just want to make a film that’s good and works, and see if works again and again.’
The short that he is most excited about now is Adventure Time, created by Aussie Pendelton Ward. The surrealistic short that aired as one of Seibert’ produced Nickelodeon’s Random! Cartoons last January and has since become a www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNVYWJOEy9AYouTube sensation.
‘I know that it will get picked up before the end of the year,’ he said. ‘I have nothing to base that on, but I just know it.’
Never one to shy away from risk, the man that helped make MTV the symbol of a generation is blazing his way through more uncharted territory. This time, it’s digital and he readily admits there is no real business model yet. ‘I hope I won’t be the pioneer with arrows in his back,’ he laughed.