Creating access for underrepresented talent in primetime animation

The HBO Max X WarnerMedia Access Animated Shorts Program provides underrepresented creators who have not had the opportunity to create an original work for a network or streamer, with access to WarnerMedia’s powerful suite of creative talent and resources.

HBO Max X WarnerMedia Access Animated Shorts Program

Driven by HBO Max's commitment to discover and nurture new and distinct voices in adult animation, this program provides artists with the tools, instruction, mentorship and resources to create original animated short films for adult audiences while exposing them to the business of animation and various pathways to a career in the field.

Evaluated by a diverse panel of executives and talent from across WarnerMedia’s iconic brands, up to 7 finalists from the US and Canada will be selected based on their visual artistry and the originality of their project proposal.

The Canadian component will seek out Indigenous artists, selected through a key collaboration between imagineNATIVE and WarnerMedia Access Canada.

The theme for this inaugural program is: “Only You” as HBO Max is eager to discover artists who bring their distinctive lens to their creations and are unafraid to push the boundaries of primetime animation and creative storytelling, in ways no one else is doing. In other words, how are your ideas, characters and imagined worlds something “Only You” can create?

Selected participants will be provided with a comprehensive production budget, resources and a dedicator mentor to develop and execute their original 1 - 5 minute animated short. In addition to a WarnerMedia mentor, all projects will be overseen by a seasoned producer who will guide participants through the production process, from start to finish. 

Completed projects will have the opportunity to stream exclusively on HBO Max, reaching global audiences.




How long will the program last? What are the time commitments? 

The program will launch in January 2022 and will last for approximately 6 - 9 months, depending on the needs of each short.  Throughout the program, participants will attend virtual “Master Classes” with industry experts on topics that follow the production cycle (i.e. Script, Storyboard & Animatic, Character & Location design, etc).   Outside of the classes, creators will work independently on their project, with scheduled check-ins with their mentor and producer, who will provide the guidance and resources necessary to complete their project.

Will there be a stipend and / or a production budget? 

Each selected project will be allotted a total production budget of up to 60K ($60,000) USD intended to cover all costs through development, production and post-production of a 1 - 5 minute animated short. The budget will remain fixed per project, regardless of the size of the creative team or the scope of the production. Since each project in the program will be different, creators will benefit from the guidance of an experienced producer who will advise creators on how to manage their project budget, to ensure they can complete their film.


What creative materials do I need to submit?

You will be asked to submit a visual sample of your work – this could be a portfolio (animated or otherwise) or a link to your Instagram or website that contains samples of your work.  We also require an original written pitch for the project you wish to create, should you be accepted into the program.

What are you looking for in an applicant’s portfolio or visual sample?

We are looking for whatever work best represents your voice visually. We’d love to see what makes your work unique, whether that’s character design, boarding, backgrounds, animated GIFs, or oil paintings. We don’t need to see exactly what you hope your project will look like but would like to see what defines your visual aesthetic.  Share your style!

What are you looking for in an original pitch?

We are looking for a 1 – 2 sentence logline that captures and communicates the story you want to tell.  We also want to know why is this an idea you are passionate about. A concept that’s personal to you doesn’t need to be about you (though that’s okay, too!). Whether your pitch is high fantasy, hard sci fi, comedic, or autobiographical, be sure to tell us why it’s an important story for you to tell and why only you can tell it!

Are there specific styles of Animation (i.e. CG, 2D) this program is looking for?

No. All styles of animation and creative proposals are welcome.

What genre of content is the Program looking for?

We are looking for concepts in the primetime adult animation space. This is a broad spectrum, encompassing more family-friendly, “sitcom” style concepts, to YA, to more raunchy or violent comedy or genre content. We are not looking for projects targeting preschool or children’s animation.


Do I have to live in or be able to travel to LA for the program? 

No. The program can be completed virtually. An assessment of each project’s needs will be completed at the outset, to determine if any in-person / on-site resources will be beneficial for the completion of the short. 

I live outside the US or Canada. Can I apply? Will you handle my visa? 

We accept submissions from international candidates, provided you have the right to work in the US or Canada*. The Program will not be able to sponsor you or pay for your visa. 

*Canadian cohort only: Applicants must be a resident of Canada

I am an artist but have never animated anything before. Am I eligible?

Yes. We encourage artists who have not had the opportunity to animate yet but have a strong passion for and desire to work in animation.

Can I pitch ideas around WarnerMedia IP?

Not for this program, sorry!


How many creators will be selected? 

Up to 7 projects from across the US and Canada will be selected. Each project may be led by an individual creator or may consist of a creative team, however please consult the note about Creative Teams in the following section "APPLICATION"

When will I know the status of my application? 

All applicants will be notified of their status by mid-December 2021. Given the high volume of expected applications, we discourage email check-ins until after December 15th. Thank you for your patience! 


When is the deadline? 

All applications must be submitted by 11:59pm PT on Sunday, October 24th 2021.  No exceptions. 

How do I apply? 

All submissions must be made through our portal at Submissions via email will not be accepted.   

Is there an application fee? 

There are no fees associated with submitting to any WarnerMedia Access program.

Do you take creative teams? 

Yes, we accept creative teams, however please note:

  • Creative teams should only submit one application.
  • The application will only capture information for a maximum of two [2] applicants. Should the application be successful, the primary and secondary applicants will serve as the key representatives for their project during program.
  • The production budget will remain fixed per project, regardless of the size of the creative team.

Do you accept letters of recommendation?   

No. We do not require letters of recommendation.   

Can my agent/manager just send you my stuff? 

No. Only applications received through our submission portal will be accepted. 

I missed the deadline! Can I just email you directly? 

Sadly, no. We have a thorough evaluation process that takes several months to accomplish, so we are unable to push our timeline to accommodate late applicants. 

Will I receive feedback on my application? 

Unfortunately, given the high volume of expected applicants, we are unable to provide feedback on submissions. 

Will I receive confirmation that you received my application?   

Yes. After you submit your application, you will receive an automatic confirmation email. If you do not, please email:  


•Must be 18 years of age or older 

•Must not have created or produced an original work for a major network or streamer

•US Cohort:  Must have the ability to work in the US

•Canadian Cohort:  Must be a resident of Canada


  • Submission window: Tuesday, October 5th – Sunday, October 24th
  • Cohort notification:  December 2021
  • Program Launch:   January 2022
  • Program Wrap:   October 2022