Mr Watson goes to Hollywood

Screenwriter Nick Watson is one of the writers of the new animation series Bluey, which has just launched on ABC Kids to the delight of young audiences across Australia.

It’s a return to home ground for University of Melbourne alumnus Nick, who is carving out a successful career for himself in the global centre of the TV and movie business – Hollywood.

Nick (BA 2012, MScreenwriting 2014) credits a University of Melbourne exchange to Canada for opening his eyes to the opportunities available outside Australia.

He arrived at the University from Shepparton in regional Victoria in 2009 to study psychology and creative writing, receiving a number of scholarships and bursaries to help him through his degree.

“I went from a big fish in a small pond from a little country town and high school to attending the best university in Australia,” he says.

“I suddenly found that I was surrounded by people who were just as smart as I was. It was an interesting experience.”

During his Bachelor of Arts degree, Nick went on an exchange to Vancouver for a semester and began to think that working overseas as a writer may not be an impossible dream after all.

“I’ve always loved film and television, it’s something that has always captivated my interest, especially animation,” he says.

“I grew up watching a lot of cartoons on Nickelodeon and the Cartoon Network.”

He returned to the University of Melbourne to complete a Masters in Screenwriting, and started teaching screenwriting at Melbourne and freelancing while he pondered his next career move. Once again, Canada called.

“The creative industry in Australia is very small and there are not a lot of opportunities available for new writers. I wasn’t particularly interested in moving to LA either, so I thought I’d give Vancouver a try,” he says.

It wasn’t easy uprooting from one country to another, especially without a job, but he took the plunge.

“I eventually got a job as a production assistant on various film and television sets doing menial tasks like emptying the trash and making coffee. It took me a couple of years to work my way up, build connections and find my way to use my creative skills.”

Nick soon realised that if he wanted his writing career to soar, he would have to move to LA. He did, and now he regularly rubs shoulders with Hollywood celebrities.

“I have met and worked with a lot of celebrities and people I admire like Reese Witherspoon, Jack White and Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters. I’ve worked with people like Tom Kenny, who is the voice of Spongebob and John DiMaggio, the voice of Bender from Futurama," he says.

“Building connections plays a huge part of being successful in Hollywood. It’s very much a culture of networking here. Be it coffees or drinks, the aim is to meet as many people as you can. I had to get out of my comfort zone and be willing to make new friends.”

The networking has paid off. Nick has written for shows including Final Space, released on Netflix in 2018, and an animated kids’ show from Hasbro Studios called Littlest Pet Shop: A World of Our Own. He was hired by multi-Emmy Award-winning creative studio Ludo to work on Bluey.

He also co-hosts a podcast called Paper Team which gives up-and-coming writers from outside the US tips on how to make it in Hollywood.