Passion has hired Executive Producer Nicki Cortese as Head of Development for animated features and series.

The appointment is part of a “bold and rapid expansion” by Passion of its long form animation department spearheaded by Pixar veteran Executive Producer and Head of Production David Park, and Executive Producer Debbie Crosscup.

Passion Pictures long form animation department works across features, series, commercials and gaming. Credits include Love, Death & Robots, Headspace (Netflix) 101 Dalmatian Street (Disney) and Lego City Adventures (Nickelodeon).

Overseen by Passion Founder/Creative Director Andrew Ruhemann and CEO Nick Southgate, the team is currently in production on a “highly anticipated animated series for a major streamer” and is working on a range of original features and episodic series, “with a number of major streamers and studio partners with development deals already in place.”

Cortese will be focussed on creating and developing IP alongside passion’s in-house directors and creative team as well as acquiring outside IP before taking the projects to the wider market for distribution.

Cortese joins ahead of this year’s Annecy Animation Festival, where she led development for the two Passion projects selected for MIFA Pitches in the TV series and specials category.

Founder and Creative Director of PASSION, Andrew Ruhemann says: “We are thrilled to have Nicki join our rapidly expanding Features and Series team to develop our original long form animation slate. A creative pioneer, Nicki possesses the perfect mix of an independent film making mind-set with vast experience of developing and producing major studio feature productions. This exciting combination perfectly complements PASSION’s intention to create original animated productions with a unique voice and clear vision that will appeal to the global market.”

Nicki Cortese, Head of Development for Features and Series, says: “I am thrilled to be joining the innovative and accomplished team that Andrew and Nick have built and I am excited to be working with David, Debbie and the wider PASSION team to develop and expand the company’s ambitions in long form animation Features and Series.”

Prior to joining Passion, Cortese served as the Head of Development for Elisabeth Murdoch’s Locksmith Animation, where she worked on Disney’s Ron’s Gone Wrong as well as the upcoming Netflix feature, Richard Curtis’ That Christmas. Previously, Cortese had a first-look deal with Brian Robbins’ studio, Awesomeness Films, she oversaw the Divergent franchise at Red Wagon and she started her career as Vice President of Akiva Goldsman’s Weed Road Pictures while their deal was at Warner Bros, leading projects such as Paranormal Activity and Dark Tower.


Jon Creamer

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