Children's television creators in Miramar have joined forces with universities to introduce a new course on how to make a career that can pay the mortgage by sketching superheroes and creating stories about unusual characters.
The pilot programme of the one-semester course, named PIPI, was created by children's TV specialists Pukeko Pictures, maker of The WotWots, the show about alien siblings.
It will be taught to screenwriting masters students at Victoria University and creative design students at Massey University.
PIPI aims to give screenwriting, illustration and animation students the skills to package and pitch commercial concepts for animated TV series, video game concepts, long-form live action TV and film projects.
Children's television shows are typically made in a co-production arrangement, with one company owning the intellectual property of the characters and concept while another produces the animation and filming.
A lot of the skills Wellingtonians provide to the overseas television industry is in the service provision end of production.
The local industry and individuals in it could be a lot stronger if more screenwriters were developing ideas for shows and retaining the ownership of the intellectual property.
"The problem is when the co-production is split, usually we're left with the animation and production side of it but as intellectual property owners we want to control the creative story side of things," said Theo Baynton, Pukeko Pictures' head of creative development for children's entertainment.
"We want to teach them about how the industry works, how the legal stuff works, what you can expect from a deal, what's reasonable and what's not."
Grow Wellington general manager of creative and digital Sven Pannell worked on developing the programme.
He said many companies in Wellington's creative sector had built incredible success but often on a fee-for-service basis.
"The guy who conceived of SpongeBob Squarepants made a lot more money than the guy who painted it in each show, and that's where New Zealand and Wellington in particular are seeking to transition to - really owning the ideas, then partnering with people to deliver those ideas."
As part of the course, students will be told by the experts at Pukeko Pictures how viable their concepts are and if the characters created could be made into soft toys, video games and other merchandising spinoffs that financiers have in mind.