Universal launches search for diverse writers

The year-long, paid Universal Animation Writers Program is on the hunt for new talent with a unique point of view.
November 14, 2019

Universal has launched a program in an effort to identify and develop diverse new talent. The year-long Universal Animation Writers Program is meant to create staffing opportunities for Universal Filmed Entertainment Group (UFEG)’s family-friendly content.

Through the paid program, writers will develop their skills in feature or television animation through writing assignments and workshops (both internal and external). Writers will also have access to creative and production advisors, television staffing opportunities and film development opportunities. Neither program staffing nor concept development is guaranteed through the program.

Business units and production entities affiliated with UFEG (including DreamWorks Animation, Illumination and Universal 1440 Entertainment) will participate in the program.

Through the program, feature writers will be required to complete two feature-length scripts based on selected story areas chosen by DreamWorks Animation Film. Television writers, meanwhile, will be considered for staffing on series produced by UFEG business units and have the opportunity to develop original concepts for development consideration.

The film track will focus on comedy, action-adventure, fantasy, sci-fi, family-friendly and kid-focused content. The television track is divided into two age demos, with the kid group (ages six to 11) focusing on sci-fi, action-adventure and fantasy. The preschool group (ages three to five) will focus on action-adventure and character-driven fantasy.

The program officially launches June 2020 at the Universal Studios Lot in California and requires exclusive and full-time commitment of a minimum of 40 hours per week. Selected writers will be paid a US$75,000 annualized amount and the number of writers selected will vary from year to year. Applicants must submit an original screenplay and an original treatment for the film track, or a pilot script and a spec script for the television tracks. Additionally, all applications must include a personal essay detailing the writer’s unique perspective and background as it relates to their storytelling.

Online applications for the program are open until January 17.

This program is launching as DreamWorks Animation continues to ink big deals with the likes of Netflix and Hulu. Earlier this year, Universal Kids shifted its programming strategy and announced it will no longer make original content. The US kidcaster will stay on the air and continue as a linear channel, but moving forward it will only acquire content and continue its partnership with DreamWorks Animation.

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