A group of UK-based animation studios are collaborating to support underrepresented creators via a new Secret Story Draw talent development program.
A dozen kids TV writers—including Keith Chapman (PAW Patrol), Adam Redfern (The Adventures of Paddington), Gillian Cross (The Demon Headmaster) and Swapna Haddow (Dave Pigeon!)—are submitting anonymous stories written exclusively for the program. Would-be animators and illustrators will then be given an opportunity to bring these stories to life with their own art and animations.
Chosen by a panel of judges and announced in June, the program’s winners will receive a three-month paid internship at one of several participating animation studios, which include Aardman, Blue Zoo Animation, DNEG, Factory, Fourth Wall, Jellyfish Pictures, King Bert, Hopster and Moonbug.
During their internships, the winners will be paired with industry mentors to give them advice on career growth and help develop their talent. And industry veterans are also on deck to host creative workshops designed to help the animators/illustrators broaden their skills and knowledge.
The goal of Secret Story Draw is to drive inclusion in the children’s animation industry, because there aren’t enough “meaningful” employment opportunities for BIPOC creators, according to a joint release from the studios behind the initiative.
The Secret Story Draw website is open now live and the competition is open to applicants who identify as part of an underrepresented ethnicity background, such as Black, Asian or other minority ethnic groups. They must be 18 years or older by the time the competition closes on May 28.
Judges include Jamila Metran, director of Sony Kids Network; Tom Box, the managing director of Blue Zoo; Jackie Edwards, the head of the Young Audiences Content Fund for the BFI; and Louise Bucknole, the VP of kids programming for UK and Ireland for Nick Network and Milkshake! UK media organizations including the British Film Institute, BAFTA Kids, The Children’s Media Conference and Macmillan Children’s Books are financially supporting the program.