Former UC Davis student produces cartoon short with Nickelodeon

ERIC BRAVO / COURTESY
ERIC BRAVO / COURTESY

An interview with Eric Bravo, creator of animated short “The Outsiders”

As a managerial economics alum at UC Davis, Eric Bravo didn’t anticipate that he would ever be writing and producing his own cartoon short for Nickelodeon. But Bravo, who graduated in 2013, built on his internship at Nickelodeon and pitched his cartoon idea to studio executives as part of the Nickelodeon Animated Shorts program. His cartoon short, “The Outsiders,” was chosen and can be viewed on the Nickelodeon website.

What made you want to go into animation?

I always had a passion for the entertainment industry, but I didn’t really know how to get into it until one of my friends got an internship at Warner Bros. And just knowing that someone got into the entertainment industry in general, I was kind of surprised. I actually started out with my internship at Warner Bros. in international marketing because I still wanted to do a business route, but after that internship I applied to Nickelodeon. I didn’t have any animation background, but having Warner Bros. on my résumé attracted me to them.

Were you always interested in script writing and was writing always a passion of yours?

The only writing that I’d done was high school script writing. The very first time I wrote was to pitch a cartoon to Nickelodeon as part of the animated short program and that script made it pretty far. Unfortunately, they didn’t accept it that year, but the following year, they reached back out to me via email and asked if I would pitch again. [The Outsiders] was the second script I pitched and they ended up greenlighting it [to] become a cartoon short.

Can you give us more information on the animated shorts program at Nickelodeon?

They’ve been doing the animated shorts program since 2012. The goal is to find new creators and new content to make into [a] two to three minute cartoon short that has the potential of becoming the next big thing on Nickelodeon. They listen to thousands of pitches and accept 10 domestically. And after they choose your idea, they provide you with a team to bring your cartoon to life. In my case, I was a writer and I can’t draw to save my life so I was involved in hiring an animator and voice casting.

Where did you come up with your idea for your cartoon?

It was one of those out-of-body experiences — I know that might sound kind of weird. But I actually wrote that script in an hour. I’d been working on this other script for a couple months and it wasn’t working and the week of the pitch I decided to start writing something else.

ERIC BRAVO / COURTESY
ERIC BRAVO / COURTESY

How was the process of pitching your idea to Nickelodeon?

I was super nervous because one of the people I was pitching to was the founder of Nick Animation. When I came to the room I could tell they were tired of listening to pitches and I […] didn’t have [any] idea what to do. They told me I could just read the script. I was just an intern pitching so I didn’t have many expectations, but as I was reading it, they kept laughing which made me more relaxed. By the end of it, they said it was a really good script and they were really interested, which was a relief.

What was the most rewarding part of working at Nick Studios? The most challenging?

The most rewarding part was living out my childhood dreams at Nick, which has been a big part of my life and all ‘90s kids lives, I think. One of the llamas [in my cartoon] is voiced by Will Friedle, who played Eric Matthews in Boy Meets World.

The hardest part for me was working remotely between where I lived in San Francisco and the Nickelodeon studios in Burbank. There was a lot of email and Skyping, but they’d fly me out a couple times to see everybody and how the work was going.

Where do you see your future in animation going?

Well, if the short does well, it has the potential to become a pilot. And if the pilot does well, it has the potential to become a series, but everything is up in the air now. I do plan on pitching more ideas though.

Do you think your time at UC Davis helped you prepare for the process of producing your script?

I was a managerial economics major so my coursework didn’t directly relate, but [UC] Davis helped me get my foot in the door because having  [UC] Davis on my résumé got me these important internships. After every job interview, I ask [my employer] why they hired me. And the first thing they told me at Dreamworks, Warner Bros. and Nickelodeon was that Davis was a great school.

What advice would you give to students at UC Davis who want to get into the arts and entertainment business?

If I can do it, you can definitely do it. Not being an animator and not being able to draw or not even majoring in arts, that was a weakness for me. You just have to try and get your foot in the door by getting internships. And while you have these internships, network and never give up and keep on trying.

Since it was hard for me to know how to get into the entertainment business, I also started a blog called Storyboard Room where I interview industry professionals in animation about how they got into the industry.

For more information on Eric Bravo and his work, please visit his website.

WRITTEN BY: Amanda Ong – arts@theaggie.org