Next up on our Juror Spotlight series is Stephanie Bang. Stephanie is the Director of Original Movies at Nickelodeon, where she oversees the development and production of live-action and animated TV movies. She most recently worked on the live-action movie One Crazy Cruise and the upcoming original Liar, Liar, Vampire.
Stephanie has been at Nickelodeon for eight years and previously worked in Original Programming & Events, where she was the TeenNick Executive in Charge and helped manage the Kids’ Choice Awards, the HALO Awards and Worldwide Day of Play.
She is an alumna of the Gallatin School at NYU, where she received her degree in Children’s Television, and currently resides in Los Angeles.
What is your background and what is your role at Nick Movies?
I graduated from the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at NYU with a concentration in Children’s Television. I fulfilled most of my major with seven internships in my specific field, one of which landed me a desk at Nickelodeon where I’ve been for eight years now. I’ve grown-up at Nick, having worked on live-action development and current series, live events, TeenNick programming, and currently, movies. As the director of the movies department, I have an Executive-in-Charge role on our productions and work closely with my team to take our projects from development to air. This involves finding new talent, taking pitches, steering and supporting writers, overseeing production on-set, and through all stages of post-production, along with communicating with other internal lines of business.
Can you please define, in your own words, what a true Nickelodeon film is?
To me, a Nickelodeon film is event-worthy, longer-format programming that tells our audience a special or big story while still encompassing all the qualities of the brand. Currently, these are animated or live action – starring familiar or new faces – but are always kid-centric stories that feel relatable to our kid audience.
What films have you produced that you are most proud/fond of?
After I joined the movie department in spring 2014, one of the first movies we produced was Splitting Adam, which is about a kid who finds a cloning machine. It did a good job of balancing slapstick comedy, sci-fi and relatable heart. I’m also excited for our upcoming Halloween movie, Liar, Liar, Vampire, which is about a new kid who is mistaken for a vampire and goes along with the ruse to be popular for the first time in his life. The comedy is clever, and I think it’s spot-on for the young audience who is now very familiar with the genre and ready for a new take.
What do you look for specifically in a script? Specifically, what gets you excited when you read a script?
Smart and funny. It’s a simple and broad answer, but I get excited by laughing at a joke or idea I’ve never heard before. I love reading something and thinking, “this is hilarious, I can’t believe no one’s thought of it already.” In kids’ content, the jokes need to stand on their own and can’t rely on adult references. It makes originality particularly challenging for the writer and appreciated by the reader.
What’s the best advice you would provide a new writer wanting to break into this particular field?
There’s a lot to be said about simply being in the right place at the right time, but when opportunities arise, a new writer will want to have his/her best foot forward.
My advice to a new writer is that even when you don’t have work, keep working on your samples, familiarizing yourself with material you admire, and practicing your people and pitching skills. The writers we work with the most are equally skilled at working on a script in a room alone and pitching themselves or a movie in a conference room.
What are you looking forward to at this year’s AFF?
I’m looking forward to meeting new writers who may not necessarily be thinking of writing for the kids’ space, but would be excellent at it.