Saraswathi Vani Balgam is a Writer, Director and Creative Producer. Vani is also the founder of Dancing Atoms, a Los Angeles-based creative development studio that focuses on powerful storytelling that bridges the gap between Asian and North American storytellers.
She is currently developing multiple preschool animated TV shows in partnership with Canadian and American studios and is creating an original animated feature film with a Malaysian studio.
She is also an Unreal Fellowship Mentor and works closely with experts in using the unreal real-time pipeline for her preschool shows. One of her preschools shows “Gannu “ was selected by FIAPF & WIA for the Stories x Women Program & to be pitched at Annecy 2022.
She was also invited to be a part of Unreal engine ICVFX Unreal fellowship batch 2 where she spent time in intensive training & had had access to a wealth of technical knowledge related to ICVFX .
Previously in her career, Vani was the founding director of Rhythm & Hues Studios Asia, a multiple Academy Award® winning VFX and Animation studio. She also served as the Head of Creative Management and Training at DreamWorks Animation’s studio in Shanghai.
In Nov 2021 , Vani was a part of writing in the Unreal Tribeca initiative along with Epic games, as an associate producer alongside Karen Dufilho.
She has also successfully mentored the Sony Talent League members to structure their stories and make their dreams come true.
She actively promotes community building all over the world. She is currently the president of Asifa India, an organization dedicated to the art of animation. She also has been the president of Women in Animation – India for over 10 years.
Apart from this, Vani along with Asifa India partnered with Epic Games to launch the Women Creators Program in India with the aim to inspire and train women creators and form a community of creators.
Zoe Bamsey is Head of Animation Development at BBC Studios, Kids & Family.
Zoe leads the development ofBBC Studios Kid & Family’s original animated content, Her role involves sourcing existing IP (from creative directors and producers, books, graphic novels and brands) and, and pitching it to BBC channels and the global content market. Zoe also maintains and develops existing and new co-development, co-production, creative and business opportunities worldwide.
Before joining BBC Studios, Zoe was Chief Content Officer at leading UK animation studio Factory Media where she developed and producedClangers and Scream Street and Director of Programming and Development at Coolabi Group, where she worked on Poppy Cat for global broadcast channels amongst other titles.Zoe was also key in establishing the Walt Disney Channels Business globally where she held the posts of Executive Director of Programming and Director of Worldwide Programming Strategy, leading the successful launch and rollout of global hits High School Musical and Hannah Montana.
Zoe resides in Los Angeles, California with her husband Daniel and their three teenage children.
Starting his career in Chile, Simon, CEO at Pudoctopus, an entertainment company based in Canada, Canary Island & Chile, focused his job on being a player in the international industry creating original IP with a strong focus on toys and licensing and providing animation services for important studios.
Currently, he is developing 2 Original IP with Cartoon Network, overseeing the production of several toys and having the chance to work on quite exciting IPs such as Love Death & Robots, Agent King, Valorant, Free Fire, League of Legends, Rainbow Six & more, for several animation studios around the world.
Simón started his career as a traditional animator in 2005, and then he jumped on digital 2D, 3D animation software, digital sculpting, and built his background as a 2D and 3D generalist with a strong focus on character animation.
Over time, he started to do animation direction for international projects and in 2012 he founded his first animation studio. As a natural progression, he moved on production duties and eventually became an Executive Producer/CEO. Simon had the chance to develop his artistic background and production knowledge which has been an asset to his company’s needs. Simón’s biggest achievement until now, is having sold his first TV show and closed a deal in a co-development project with Cartoon Network for all Latin America and signed a license agreement over the same year. Nowadays, he is about to close his 3rd contract with Cartoon Network for original IPs this year.
In 2019, he reached a representation agreement with Dannie Festa in Los Angeles (Trolls, King Kong, Tiger Lily) and founded Pudoctopus, the company that allowed him to access international markets.
Finally, he is working to make merchandise, especially toys, become a vital part in Latin America animation productions and pushing the license industry with new IPs and new stories for the world.
Ben Bayouth is a Writer/Director from Los Angeles CA. He is known for creating the visually disruptive puppet family sitcom Blark and Son with Comedy Central digital, as well as directing several visually innovative music videos. He is currently head of development for Justin Roiland’s “Solo Vanity Card Productions” where he most recently Executive Produced and co-wrote The Paloni Show! Halloween Special! for Hulu this past October.
In 2018, Sony Animation released Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, the critically-acclaimed, visually groundbreaking film that went on to win the Academy Award® for Best Animated Feature.
The following year, the studio collaborated with filmmaker Matthew A. Cherry on the short film Hair Love, which won the Academy Award® for Best Animated Short.
Sony Pictures Animation’s past releases include the mouth-watering Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and monster comedy Hotel Transylvania film series. The studio’s latest releases include the action comedy The Mitchells vs. The Machines, which was nominated for an Academy Award, Vivo, Sony Pictures Animation’s first-ever animated musical, featuring all new songs from Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Hotel Transylvania: Transformania, the fourth installment of the beloved franchise. In 2023, the studio plans to release the much-anticipated theatrical sequel, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, and launch two animated series: Agent King with Netflix and Young Love on HBO Max.
Belson joined Sony Pictures Animation in 2015 after spending nearly a decade at DreamWorks Animation, where she produced the Academy Award-nominated animated feature The Croods. Belson also served as Executive Producer of the Academy Award®-nominated film, How to Train Your Dragon.
Belson joined DreamWorks Animation with over 15 years’ experience developing and producing live-action and animated films for the Jim Henson Company, Columbia Pictures, Turner Pictures, and 20th Century Fox.
Kim Berglund is vice president, Development, Disney Junior, part of the Disney Branded Television, a content business with a primary focus on kids and families.In this role, she oversees development of original television properties for the Disney Junior audience of kids 2-7 and their parents/caregivers.
Berglund joined Disney as executive director of Development, Disney Junior, in 2019.
She has a passion for storytelling and leadership and a strong background in curriculum and education frameworks.
Among her current projects are the overseeing development of Pupstruction, a series about an all-dog construction company, as well as several other projects. She also steered the development of Rise Up, Sing Out, a series of animated, music-based shorts designed to provide an inspiring and empowering message about race, culture and community.
Prior to joining Disney, Berglund was a creative executive and curriculum director for PBS Kids, working on award-winning television series including Peg + Cat, Odd Squad, Super Why!, Martha Speaks, The Electric Company and Dinosaur Train. She also played an integral role in developing PBS Kids’ overall education strategy.
Berglund previously oversaw the cartoon incubator shorts program at Nickelodeon Animation Studios and served as a development associate at Disney Television Animation, helping develop several series including Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, The Buzz on Maggie and The Replacements. She has also worked as an independent creator and producer for multiple animated and live-action projects, and started her career as a second-grade teacher.
A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Berglund received a B.A. from Dartmouth College and an Ed.M. from Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is a founding member of the Bay Area chapter of the Children’s Media Association (CMA), a nonprofit organization comprised of professionals who are committed to creating and distributing thoughtful, entertaining media to children and young adults, and is also an Executive Committee Member of Children’s Programming for the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband and their two children.
AnnaBerthold is an agent in the Motion Picture Literary department at United Talent Agency representing writers, directors and producers in film and television. Anna also oversees the Animation department at UTA, which is the leading agency in animation, representing both emerging fresh voices as well as established artists such as Elizabeth Ito, Megan Nicole Dong, Frank Abney, Brad Bird, Chris Nee, Phil Lord & Chris Miller, Andrew Stanton, Rich Moore, Mike Mitchell, Alex Hirsch, Conrad Vernon, Rough Draft Studios, and The Jim Henson Company, among others. Anna is a veteran of the nonprofit industry and before joining UTA, worked with organizations around the world on issues of digital media and community engagement. Originally from Fort Worth, Texas, Anna graduated from University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations and later received her Master’s of Public Diplomacy, also from USC.
Executive producer and creator of animation projects in all its aspects (Film, TV, Interactive). His job is to train and search for the best national and international talent in order to develop global interactive brands with international potential and success.
Currently Director of Content and Distribution of Kids & Family in Deaplaneta Entertainment. Owned by Grupo Planeta and De Agostini, the group offers a wide range of quality entertainment for all kinds of audiences, combining talent and technology. A multinational company with presence in more than 30 countries and more than 20 years of experience acquiring, producing and distributing unforgettable content and experiences: from movies, fiction and animation series and licensed product to live shows, videogame competitions and, more recently, NFTs and presence in the metaverse. www.deaplanetaentertainment.com/
Formerly President of Productions and Co-Productions at Toonz Media Group www.toonz.co, an Asian group with studios in Spain, Ireland, Turkey, New Zealand and India.
His first experience was as Executive Director in charge of creative development and the financing and marketing of animation series at BRB Internacional/Screen 21 and also at Apolo Films (Spain). His experience includes over twenty co-productions produced in studios in Spain, Europe, North America and Asia. For almost a decade he was the President of DIBOOS (Spanish Federation of Animation and Visual Effects Producers).
He worked at Tele 5 (Acquisitions Department) and Antena 3 (Marketing Department). He studied Film and Business Studies at Suffolk University (Boston – USA) and has been recognized as a University Specialist in Audiovisual Business Management by the Carlos III University of Madrid. Regular consultant for the World Bank (Washington) in the area of animation and currently Director of Animation at The Core Entertainment Science School (Madrid).
Tricia Biggio is the Chief Executive Officer of Invisible Universe, an internet-first animation studio that is building the Pixar of the Internet. In her role, Biggio leads the creative strategy for the company, including the development of Invisible Universe’s animated characters and the day-to-day operations of the business.
Biggio is an experienced television and digital media executive known for her work across development and production. She has held several senior executive positions in various sectors of entertainment and tech, including as the Senior Vice President of Unscripted Television at MGM and as a Development Executive on the Originals team at Snap.
Prior to Snap, Biggio also served as an executive at VH1, where she acted as the executive producer for a range of series including the VH1 shows Candidly Nicole and Barely Famous. Tricia is also credited for series such as Are You the One, Dating Naked, and I Love Kellie Pickler.
Biggio holds a Masters in Organizational Psychology focused in Organizational Leadership/ Psychology from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Matt Bilfield is a Los Angeles based Web3 product strategist at Blockchain Creative Labs and the project lead for Krapopolis, the highly anticipated new animated series from Dan Harmon (co-creator of Rick and Morty). Blockchain Creative Labs is a startup under the Fox umbrella that is leading the charge for the network’s implementation of blockchain technology into traditional media. Matt oversees the overall product strategy, development, and design for the NFTs supporting Krapopolis.
Prior to his role at Blockchain Creative labs, Matt became known in the NFT community for his generative art collection called “Transitions” released on Art Blocks that adapted his traditional fine art medium to digital form, selling 4,712 unique NFTs in one hour. He retains gallery representation worldwide for his contemporary art.
In tandem with his art career, Matt is an 8-time Emmy Award Nominee for his creative work at FOX Sports working on the design and visual on-air graphic identity for the network.
As Creative Director for production company Titmouse, Alexei has a hand in guiding the creative development of all original projects, from idea through pitch and execution. He’s always on the lookout for authentic voices and unique stories that can only be brought to life through animation. An English Lit major at heart, Alexei is obsessed with the art of building a powerful narrative and the way that members of an audience will connect to characters and stories that resonate with them the strongest. Prior to Titmouse, Alexei was Creative Director at animation studio Psyop, where he directed animated shorts and cinematic trailers for blockbuster video games Apex Legends, Mass Effect, and Clash of Clans. Further back, he was a member of the Disney digital media empire. He has also channeled his personal love of Japanese anime story tropes into writing and directing the cult video games “I Love You, Colonel Sanders” and “Hooked On You.”
Mary is an industry veteran who has worked in 3 countries, including 8 years as Director of Worldwide Programming and Acquisitions at Disney in London, England. Focusing on development for the past 15 years, Mary has developed TeamTO’s latest original Jade Armor, a girl’s kung fu action series, that recently premiered on France TV (public broadcaster in France). She is co-creator of the new TeamTO project in development Orion and Journal 24 as well as developing Next Level: Odyssey for TeamTO. Also known for her work developing and being an EP on Netflix series Justin Time for which she was nominated for a Daytime Emmy for Best Preschool show and True and the Rainbow Kingdom (which still ranks as one of Netflix’s top pre-school shows). She was also one of many EPs on the Oscar nominated feature The Breadwinner which was an absolute honour. She co-created Pikwik Pack on Disney Junior. She is a member of the WGC. She received the WIFT Toronto award for innovation in Business in 2017. She is also very proud of her son who just started University.
Davis is a serial entrepreneur who starts lasting companies. Davis has led physical and digital new product development and worldwide sales, support, and community building for multiple endeavors.
He has extensive experience across challenging domains including medical diagnostics, stem cells, and the life sciences (Active Life Scientific, Gallant). As a former professional DJ, radio talk show host, and tech nerd, Davis most recently returned to his roots to found Gamisodes. Davis holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering and minor equivalent in Technology and Entrepreneurship from the University of California at Santa Barbara.
Tom CJ Brown
Tom CJ Brown
Tom C J Brown is a British Artist and filmmaker, primarily known for his short films t.o.m. (2007), teeth (2015), & Cousin John – The Arrival (2020) which collectively won over 50 awards at festivals around the world including Sundance, SXSW, Annecy, and AFI Fest. Brown spent the last 10 years in New York working in the animation and film space, creating commercial content for recognizable brands, and collaborating with local artists Casey Spooner and Rachel Rose. His enthusiastic ammeter Harping, Rambling of English peaks and love of Opera all feed into his work as a modern day romanticist.
Mark Caballero is a co-founder of Screen Novelties, a mixed media animation collective based out of Los Angeles.He has served as Director and Producer on stop-motion animated specials for SpongeBob SquarePants as well as Elf: Buddy’s Musical Christmas (Warner Bros)Caballero has recently served as Supervising Producer and Director on Slumberkins (Apple TV+, The Jim Henson Company).Along with commissioned work, Mark has co-directed a number of short films:Graveyard Jamboree, The Flintstones (Warner Bros) and Fortnite: Season 7 opening (Epic Games).Mark also co-directed the Story of the Tortoise & The Hare for film legend, Ray Harryhausen, which was short listed for the 2003 Academy Awards.
Josie Campbell is a Los Angeles-based TV, film, and comic book writer. An alumni of Emerson College, Josie’s past credits includes Head Writer for She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, Head Writer for Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous; and Co-Producer/Head Writer and Co-Showrunner of the upcoming animated show, My Adventures With Superman.
Outside of these, Josie has worked for animation studios such as Mattel, Disney, and Warner Brothers. She has also worked as a writer for DC Comics; a ghost writer for comedians such as Amy Schumer and Jay Mohr; and a journalist for the Eisner Award-winning news site Comic Book Resources. Check out press and upcoming news at her website: www.cozyjamble.com
Eryk Casemiro is Executive Vice President, Nickelodeon Animation, Global Series Content, leading animation series content for preschool and Kids 6-11 across all formats and platforms for the Nickelodeon Animation Studio. Based in Nickelodeon’s Burbank, Calif., headquarters, Casemiro oversees the day-to-day operations of the animated series teams, with creative and business oversight of production and development on both the east and west coasts.
An Emmy® Award-winning producer, Casemiro’s creativity and leadership has helped grow Nickelodeon’s animation division, translating into the ongoing success of some of Nick’s biggest preschool hits including Baby Shark’s Big Show!, Blue’s Clues & You!, PAW Patrol and Santiago of the Seas, as well as the Rugrats reboot, on which he also serves as executive producer. Series highlights for 2022 under Casemiro’s team include Big Nate slated for Paramount+, Tiny Chef, Monster High, Transformers, Star Trek: Prodigy season two, Rugrats season two, SpongeBob SquarePants, Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years, Hamsterdale, Zokie Sparkleby, Rock, Paper, Scissors from the Intergalactic Shorts Program, Max and the Midknights and the series strategy for Avatar Studios.
Casemiro most recently served as Senior Vice President of Nickelodeon Preschool, in charge of the network’s preschool production and development across all formats and platforms spanning digital, TV and film. He is a Rugrats alum, having worked on the original series during his time as Senior Vice President of Creative Affairs at Klasky-Csupo Productions. While at Klasky-Csupo Productions, Casemiro was also responsible for the development and production of beloved Nickelodeon shows such as The Wild Thornberrys, Rocket Power, As Told By Ginger, and All Grown Up!, earning the studio three Ark Trust Awards, four Humanitas Awards, 10 Emmy nominations, and an Emmy Award.He also led the development and production of feature films for Paramount Pictures including Rugrats Go Wild, The Wild Thornberrys Movie, which earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Song, Rugrats in Paris: The Movie, and The Rugrats Movie.
Previously, Casemiro was the Chief Creative Officer for Zodiak Kids Studios, comprised of Marathon Media and Tele-Image in Paris, and the Foundation in London, where he produced Kody Kapow for Sprout NBC/Universal; Lilybuds for France Televisions and Discovery Kids Latin America; and Magiki for DeA Kids and Planeta.Prior to that, Casemiro was Chief Creative Officer for Marathon Media, overseeing the production of Get Blake for Nickelodeon Global and LoliRock, a co-production with Disney and France Televisions.
Casemiro also worked as a writer/producer on series including: OLIVIA, based on Ian Falconer’s award-winning book; Poppy Cat, adapted from illustrator Lara Jones’ picture book series and currently seen in 170 countries across the globe; and The Mr. Men Show, adapted from Roger Hargreaves’ Little Miss and Mr. Men book series, for which he received his 11th Emmy nomination–this time for Best Writing in a Children’s Series.
Casemiro began his career with Lorne Michaels’ Broadway Video, where he produced Sharon, Lois and Bram’s Candles, Snow and Mistletoe for CBC, Lassie’s 40th Special, and the long-running hit Frosty Returns, now in its 29th year on CBS.
Tze (pronounced “Z”) Chun is an award-winning American film and TV writer, director, producer, and showrunner. He is also co-founder of TKO Studios, a graphic novel and book publisher.
Chun currently serves as Executive Producer and showrunner of the upcoming HBO Max/Warner Bros. Animation series Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai, an animated prequel to the beloved Gremlins film franchise. He is also co-showrunner and Executive Producer of Boots Riley’s upcoming Amazon series I’m a Virgo. Previously, Chun served as Supervising Producer and writer on Gotham and wrote on ABC’s hit primetime drama Once Upon a Time. He also wrote and directed an episode of Apple’s critically acclaimed anthology series Little America based on his mother’s life.
Chun’s writing-directing debut Children of Invention premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and went on to be one of the most-awarded and best-reviewed films of the year. The film was based on Chun’s short film Windowbreaker, which was selected for the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and for which Chun was named one of Filmmaker Magazine‘s “25 New Faces of Independent Film.” Chun’s second feature Cold Comes the Night, starring EmmyÆ winner Bryan Cranston, was released in January 2014 by Sony Pictures.
Chun is also Co-Founder, President, and Co-Publisher of TKO STUDIOS (www.tkopresents.com), a graphic novel and fiction publisher working with some of the top names in the industry, including Roxane Gay (Bad Feminist), Jeff Lemire (Black Hammer), Garth Ennis (The Boys), and others. To date, Chun has written three TKO titles, The 7 Deadly Sins, The Fearsome Doctor Fang, and The Forgotten Blade. With a growing library of IP, TKO has published 9 Amazon #1 bestsellers and ranks in Shopify’s top 1% of e-commerce companies. TKO was recently nominated Publisher of the Year by Tripwire Magazine and earned an Eisner Award nomination for their bestselling series Sentient.
Dan Clark is a writer, producer, director focusing mostly on kids media. Recently Dan wrapped work on FriendZSpace, a sci fi comedy adventure about the joys and comic challenges of inter-species friend-making. Dan served as showrunner on the series and co-creator with producer, Oscar Covar. FriendZSpace is produced by Shellhut Entertainment with Flying Bark Productions. The series is distributed by Studio100.
Dan’s projects have been nominated for a Sundance Grand Jury Prize, an Independent Spirit Award, an Annie Award, and a Day Time Emmy. His work received a George Foster Peabody Broadcasting Award for a series of kid-focused PSAs Dan wrote for Fox Kids. Some of Dan’s credits include, The Save-Ums for Discovery Kids, Yo Gabba Gabba for The Magic Store, Brats Of The Lost Nebula with The Jim Henson Company for Warner Bros, Team Smithereen for Disney XD, and Alien Xmas for Golem Creations and Netflix.
Sadaf Cohen Muncy
Sadaf Cohen Muncy
Sadaf Cohen Muncy is the Head of Development and Production at HappyNest, a first-of-its-kind independent production company focused on helping artists and creators launch their next kids and family, animated franchises. A 20-year veteran of the entertainment industry, Muncy works with creators to build and monetize their passion projects, creating new worlds of unforgettable characters and shows, that shape and influence audiences worldwide.
Muncy joined HappyNest from MGA Entertainment, where she served as Vice President of Entertainment and Executive Producer. During her tenure at MGA Entertainment, Muncy built their entertainment division from the ground up, developing and producing live-action, animation, and stop motion content for all MGA brands, including the #1 girls brand L.O.L. Surprise!, Rainbow High, Bratz, Project Mc2, Little Tikes, and Lalaloopsy. Under her leadership, the L.O.L. Surprise! YouTube Channel grew to over 1 billion views and contributed to MGA’s $5 billion+ in annual revenue.
Prior to her position with MGA Entertainment, Muncy was Manager and Producer at John Doze Studios, where she was instrumental in the development and production of multiple projects, including Jim Henson’s Pajanimals, The Ghouligans, and Pet Alien.
Muncy commenced her career in the kids and family space as Director of Development and Production for Television Series at Saban Entertainment/Fox Family Studios, where she developed and produced live-action series for Fox Family Channel and Fox Kids.
Muncy holds a Bachelor of Arts in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Director Joel Crawford is currently in production on Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.He most recently served as director of the DreamWorks Animation feature film The Croods: A New Age and as director of Trolls Holiday Special for NBC.
Crawford joined DreamWorks Animation in 2006 and quickly became an integral story artist on Trolls, Shrek Forever After Rise of the Guardians, Bee Movie and all three Kung Fu Panda films.Prior to joining DreamWorks, his story artist credits include The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water and Alvin & The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked.
Crawford is an alumnus of The California Institute of the Arts.
Mo Davoudian is an Emmy Award-winning Executive Creative Director and CEO of Los Angelesbased Brain Zoo Studios, where he has overseen projects with partners such as Warner Bros., Disney, Marvel, Activision, Electronic Arts, Mattel, Hasbro, Microsoft, Lego, Sony, and more.
He’s been producing real-time animated productions for over 20 years and recently created Marvel’s first real-time animated production on Guardians of the Galaxy: Black vortex Series. Mr. Davoudians extensive real-time experience has also been on other titles such as Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, Mortal Kombat 11, Skylanders, Disney’s’ Infinity 3, Ultimate Spiderman, Ratchet & Clank, Lego Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Gears of War, Lord of The Rings, Borderlands 3, Disney’s Doorables, and Marvel’s Heroes United animated films. He is the creator of the award-winning Nora and the Academy Award select Pepe & Lucas. Mr. Davoudian is on the advisory board of the Realtime conference and a founding member of the Visual Effects Society. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Industrial design from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and a Master’s in Business Administration from Pepperdine University.
Kimberly joined the Gaumont team in 2018 as working on development and current for series and movie projects for a range of audiences.Prior to joining Gaumont, Kimberly worked as Director, Development for Walt Disney TV Animation where she developed both original and Disney-branded properties.Over the course of her career, Kimberly has served as a network executive, and has developed, produced and voice directed a wide range of animated projects for studios and networks including Walt Disney, the Hub Network and Rainmaker Entertainment.She has been fortunate to work with content featuring beloved characters and brands such as Usagi Yojimbo, Transformers, Big Hero 6, Big City Greens, Strawberry Shortcake,and Littlest Pet Shop.
John Derevlany has created, developed, and showrun more than 20 animated series, the latest of which is the surreal soccer comedy, Underdogs United, which premiered earlier this year on Discovery Kids. In addition to being a writer and animator, Derevlany is also a novelist (Fearless 5) and an innovator in the field of “creative A.I.” (adapting artificial intelligence applications to create original art and narratives). His first A.I.-generated book, Underwear Stories, 29 Tales “Written” Artificial Intelligence, is now available on Amazon.
Rob Di Figlia
Rob Di Figlia
Rob Di Figlia brings over 20 years of experience in production and pipeline implementation for media and entertainment, across animation and visual effects industries. At Epic Games, Rob is a member of the Unreal Engine team serving as Business Development Manager, and responsible for driving adoption of cutting edge real-time workflows for the film and television industry. Prior to Epic he served as VP of Software services at GPL Technologies and Business Development Manager for the M&E division of Autodesk. He was tasked with growing both companies’ Shotgrid Production pipeline services and building strategic partnerships with clients including Warner Bros., Sony, Netflix, Amazon Studios and Activision/Blizzard. His background also includes five years as Managing Director and Head of Production at Oktobor Animation, a company he co-founded. The New Zealand-based studio produced original content as well hit series like Kung Fu Panda, Legend of Awesomeness and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for DreamWorks and Nickelodeon, and others.
Bryan Dimas is an Animation Producer with experience in feature animation production, 2D and CG animation television development and production, and project management. He has contributed to various projects that include Trolls World Tour, The Boss Baby 2, 3Below: Tales of Arcadia, Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia, and Home: Adventures with Tip & Oh. He has worked for animation studios that include DreamWorks Animation and Warner Bros. Animation. He grew up in Houston, Texas and attended the University of Notre Dame where he studied Electrical Engineering and Film, Television, and Theatre with a concentration in Film Production. He is particularly interested in the development and production of animation, and promoting diversity and inclusivity in Animation and STEM fields.
He is currently the Associate Producer, Development at Warner Bros. Animation.
Frank Falcone has been bringing film and television projects to life as an animator, director and executive producer for over 25 years. Under his creative vision, Guru Studio has become a leader in character-driven storytelling and high-quality animated entertainment for kids and families around the world.
Guru’s roster of hit shows include: the global phenomenon PAW Patrol, True and the Rainbow Kingdom, Big Blue, Justin Time, Ever After High and most recently Mecha Builders, the Sesame Street animated spin-off. Frank also served as an Executive Producer on the Academy Award nominated film, The Breadwinner, where, under his watchful eye, Guru’s team contributed visual development which brought the rich ‘story world’ sequences to life. Frank recently co-created preschool series Pikwik Pack, which launched on Disney Junior US and Treehouse Canada.
Josh Fisher is an Emmy award winning executive and content creator with years of experience developing and producing successful and engaging content for young audiences. He has been part of big global franchises and also worked closely with talented artists and creators to help guide them as they build their shows. He has produced hundreds of episodes of animation, shorts, online and mobile games, virtual worlds, and worked with global companies such as Netflix, Disney, Nickelodeon, YouTube, Cartoon Network, DreamWorks, and more. He lives in Burbank with his wife, two sons, two dogs, and anxiety.
Dean Fleischer Camp
Dean Fleischer Camp
Dean Fleischer Camp is the award-winning filmmaker, designer, and New York Times-best- selling author who co-created viral sensation Marcel the Shell with Shoes On. Since appearing on Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film in 2011, Camp’s work has been profiled in virtually every major American media outlet.
In 2018, his first feature Fraud was released to widespread acclaim and controversy, described as a “brilliantly provocative” (Filmmaker) and “exhilarating” (Sight+Sound) “masterwork” (Documentary Magazine) that “pushes the boundaries of documentary” (Variety). His first narrative feature, an adaptation of the Marcel the Shell series starring Jenny Slate, Isabella Rossellini and Rosa Salazar, is slated for release this year via A24. He has directed for Comedy Central, HBO, TBS, Adult Swim and Disney Interactive. Commercial clients include Pop-Tarts, Clearasil, Dixie, Atlassian, Shopify, and many others.
Laura Clunie is Spin Master Entertainment’s Senior Vice President, Development, Current Series & Feature Film. In her role, Laura is responsible for Spin Master Entertainment’s creative strategy for long form, short form and feature film projects. She oversees the development of new intellectual property (IP) across the portfolio, including the company’s feature film slate and acts as a Producer leading the creative on greenlit theatrical projects.
Prior to this role, Laura held the position of Vice President Development and Creative Director for Spin Master Entertainment where she led creative strategy, shepherding original IP content and acquisitions from development through to green light. In her six years at Spin Master, Laura has led the creative on a number of properties, including PAW Patrol, Mighty Express, Rusty Rivets and Abby Hatcher.
Laura has a rich background of developing children’s programming. Before joining Spin Master, she served as Vice President of Creative Affairs at eOne Family, overseeing all creative initiatives for global hit properties Peppa Pig, PJ Masks and Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom. She also served as a Producer for Chorion LTD (now Silvergate Media) in London, England (Noddy, Olivia The Pig, Famous Five).
Laura holds a Bachelor of Arts from Concordia University and a Masters of Film Studies from University College Dublin.
Debbie represents clients in a broad range of transactional matters in music and entertainment, and has significant in-house experience in the music industry.
She negotiates and drafts a wide variety of deals including talent, music producer, guest artist, TV co-production, influencer, venue, production and distribution agreements as well as record deals and joint ventures. She also advises clients on content and music clearances, publishing, copyright, licensing, risk management, corporate and a full range of other issues.
Prior to joining Fox Rothschild, Debbie was the Director of Business and Legal Affairs at Saban Music Group LLC.
While pursuing her law degree in night classes, Debbie worked in the Business and Legal Affairs division of AXS TV, and as a law clerk in a boutique entertainment firm as well as a local, full-service firm. She served as Co-President and Co-Vice President of the Latino Law Student Association and competed in the National Hispanic Bar Association 22nd Annual Moot Court Competition with the Southwestern Law Latino Law Student Association team, which placed in the top eight.
After earning her undergraduate degree, Debbie worked at Music Reports Inc., then as a film/tv music clearance assistant for Universal Music Publishing Group.
Amanda Forbis studied theatre and fine art at the University of Lethbridge before attending the Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver, where she studied film, video and animation. She joined the National Film Board of Canada (Vancouver) in 1990 as animation director on an educational film titled The Reluctant Deckhand. In 1995, Wendy Tilby invited her to Montreal to co-direct When the Day Breaks (1999). It received numerous honours, including the Short Film Palme d’Or at Cannes, an Academy Award® nomination and the Grand Prix at the Annecy, Zagreb and Hiroshima international animation festivals. In 2011, they followed up with Wild Life, which garnered a number of prizes and was also nominated for an Academy Award®. The duo has recently completed their third NFB short, The Flying Sailor (2022). Inspired by real events, it tells the story of a sailor who, in a catastrophic explosion, takes a very unexpected voyage.
In addition to their personal work, Forbis and Tilby have collaborated on assorted commissioned projects, including illustrations, theatrical projections and TV commercials. Interview, their acclaimed ad for United Airlines, was nominated for an Emmy in 2004. In 2018, they were recipients of ASIFA’s Winsor McCay Award for their “exceptional contribution to the art of animation.”
Forbis has led many animation workshops for children and adults, and was an instructor at the Arts Umbrella Children’s Centre in Vancouver.
Jake S. Friedman is an animation historian and author of The Art of Blue Sky Studios and The Disney Afternoon. He has appeared as an expert on TV documentaries and written for Animation Magazine, American History Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Philadelphia Daily News. He worked for ten years as an animation artist on television shows and features, and now works as a mental health specialist, teaching the occasional History of Animation course at NYU or FIT. He lives with his wife in New York City. www.JakeSFriedman.com
An results oriented Production and Creative Executive with more than 17 years of high-level, production management experience overseeing and to end production for over 3,000 hours of programming all forms of scripted and non-scripted, linear & digital content including 20 & 3D animation, video gaming, VR. Film. Motion Capture. Visual Effects, Reality TV, same Shows, Live and Documentaries.
Ariel Goldberg received his MFA in Animation from UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, and Television. After starting out as an independent animation director and freelance illustrator, Ariel worked as a Senior Concept Artist at Zynga, designing costumes and characters for social games FarmVille and CastleVille. In July 2013, Ariel joined the Recruitment team at Disney Interactive, where he remained until January 2015, when Nickelodeon asked him to oversee Talent Acquisition for its animated productions. At Nickelodeon, Ariel developed a staffing pipeline for the hiring of designers, storyboard artists, directors, production assistants, and script coordinators, among other positions. Since August 2019, Ariel has been at Skydance Animation as Director of Talent Acquisition, working to grow this new studio into a major player in both feature and episodic animation. Skydance Animation anticipates the release of its first feature animated film, Luck, in 2022. Having been both a freelance and studio artist, having worked for startup companies and large corporations, and having worked in games, television, and feature films, Ariel has developed a multifaceted understanding of the challenges facing creative, technical, and business professionals looking to launch their careers in entertainment. This is why, in his spare time, Ariel is passionate about discussing these challenges with young professionals, in the hopes that he can demystify the Recruitment process for them and help them to avoid some of the mistakes he made in his own caree
João Gonzalez (1996) is a Portuguese film director, animator, illustrator and a musician with classical training in piano. Recipient of a scholarship from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, he did a Masters at the Royal College Art (UK), after finishing his BA at ESMAD (PT). In these institutions he made 2 multi-award winning films, Nestor and The Voyager. In 2022 he became the first Portuguese animation filmmaker to be awarded at Festival de Cannes, winning the Jury Prize for Best Short film in competition at the Critics Week, with Ice Merchants. He has a big interest in combining his musical background with his practice in authorial animation, always taking the role of composer and sometimes instrumentalist in the films he directs, occasionally setting them to a live performance.
Studio 100 Group is gearing up for a massive 2020 with the opening of Flying Bark Productions’ brand-new Los Angeles studio and a further expansion of its Sydney-based premises to a 400-crew capacity. Flying Bark has appointed Ian Graham as its Chief Creative Director for the LA studio, which will open doors in early 2020.
Focusing on creative leadership and long-term content strategy for the new studio, Graham will spearhead a development slate for original production, working with local and international talent and will help supervise pre-production teams for both original and client service work.
With a remarkable 20-year animation career, Graham’s experience as a highly regarded storyboard artist, director, animator, producer and storyteller places him in great stead to supervise the new slate of projects and work with the CG and 2D animation teams in Sydney. The appointment will add to an already impressive resume: Graham has been a storyboarder on Emmy Award-winning projects including Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants, Family Guy and Invader Zim, director for The Legend of Korra and, most recently, was supervising producer and showrunner on the highly anticipated Glitch Techs, which will release in 2020.
Sara Gunnarsdóttir is a director and artist who has created animation, music videos, and original artwork for film and television, including Marielle Heller’s celebrated debut feature The Diary of a Teenage Girl, and HBO’s Emmy-nominated The Case Against Adnan Sayed. Sara was born and raised in Reykjavik, Iceland, where she received her BFA from the Icelandic Academy of the Arts, while creating and performing with her popular electro punk band Donna Mess. She received her MFA in Experimental Animation from Cal Arts, and her thesis animated documentary short, The Pirate of Love, was nominated for “Best Alternative” in The Academy’s Student Academy Awards. Sara is currently directing the animated comedy My Year of Dicks, created by Pamela Ribon (Moana, My Boyfriend is a Bear), for FX. Her work has been showcased in Reykjavik’s Living Art Museum, New Directors / New Films, AFI Fest, and the Telluride Film Festival.
Mark Gustafson got his start in Animation at the legendary Will Vinton Studios in Portland Oregon. There he honed his skills as an animator and went on to create the award winning short film Mr Resistor. Mark worked as a Director on over two hundred television commercials including the iconic California Raisins and a Nisan spot that Time magazine named best commercial of the year. He has received numerous awards including two Emmys, two Annies, a Clio and the Tri Cities intramural bowling prize for “High Average.” Mark also served as supervising director on Eddie Murphy’s The PJ’s, and as Animation Director on Wes Anderson’s, Fantastic Mr. Fox. He directed Pinocchio alongside Guillermo Del Toro, which has kept him mostly out of trouble since 2018.
Don Hall (Director, Strange World) began his career at Walt Disney Animation Studios in June 1995 as a story apprentice on Tarzan. He served as a story artist on several development projects and productions, including The Emperor’s New Groove and Chicken Little before becoming head of story for Meet the Robinsons and The Princess and the Frog.
Hall made his directorial debut for Disney Animation’s Winnie the Pooh and went on to direct Big Hero 6, which won an Academy Award® for Best Animated Feature Film. He then served as co-director on Moana and worked on several development projects before his role as director on Raya and the Last Dragon.
Hall graduated with a BFA in drawing and painting from the University of Iowa and a BFA in character animation from California Institute of the Arts. After graduating from Cal Arts, he returned to the campus as an instructor in advanced story development.
Hall is a native of Glenwood, Iowa, and currently resides in Pasadena with his wife and two children.
ChrisHamilton founded OddBot in 2006, bringing with him a wealth of experience in animation production, series development, artistry and storytelling. Under the OddBot banner, Hamilton has directed and produced a variety of animated projects and series for Disney, Nickelodeon, Netflix, and HBOMax to name a few. Hamilton’s most recent executive producing credits include Muppet Babies (Disney Jr.), Corn and Peg (Nick Jr.), Action Pack (Netflix), and Mo Willems’ animated special, Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Underground Rock Experience (HBOMax).
Guillaume Hellouin’s visionary, out-of-the-box thinking has been instrumental in establishing TeamTO as France’s leading CGI studio, acknowledged internationally for its originality, outstanding quality, and award-winning series. He has been the engine behind TeamTO’s maverick accomplishments in many areas: driving revolutionary R&D to create game-changing production software; managing carbon footprints related to production (for which TeamTO received UNESCO recognition as part of its “Decade for Education for Sustainable Development” initiative); and increasing diversity in the French animation industry by establishing ECAS, France’s first free-of-charge animation school: since 2017 ECAS has measurably diversified the French animation talent pool, while increasing the yearly number of domestic character design graduates by 50%.
Prior to TeamTO Guillaume co-produced six seasons of Rolie Polie Olie with Nelvana, the first ever CGI pre-school series which received six Emmy nominations and two Emmy Awards, and also Executive Produced Mickey Twice upon a Christmas, the first CGI production of a Disney library character.
Bob Higgins, the longtime kids and family entertainment executive who served as EVP, Content, Kids & Family for Boat Rocker Media, has been appointed to run a new entertainment company under the Trustbridge Global Media banner. The new company will source, develop and produce premium kids and family programming based primarily on the expansive library of titles inside the publishing houses, such as Alex Rider, Judy Moody, Maisy Mouse, Where’s Waldo and this year’s Caldecott winner, Watercress.
In this newly created role, Higgins will serve as President and will run day-to-day operations, effective immediately. The announcement was made today by John String, Managing Director, Trustbridge Global Media, to whom NYC-based Higgins will report.
Over the last four years, Higgins played a key role in building Boat Rocker into a leading independent content producer of popular kids and family entertainment. He oversaw the creative direction for the Boat Rocker Kids & Family business, including development, production and acquisitions of television and digital programming. He was instrumental in setting up projects with premium cable networks and streamers, including animated titles A Tale Dark & Grimm (Netflix), based on the bestselling book by Adam Gidwitz; the original hit preschool series Dino Ranch (CBC, Disney Junior); Love Monster (CBeebies, HBO Max), an animated children’s television series based on the books by Rachel Bright; as well as the recently announced Bad Kitty, based on Nick Bruel’s bestselling kids book series, which is in development.
Before Boat Rocker, Higgins served as EVP of FremantleMedia Kids & Family for eight years, growing that division into an industry leader with over a dozen series produced, including Danger Mouse and Kate & MimMim. Prior, he was CCO at WildBrain, where he served as exec producer for the Emmy-nominated animated series The Ricky Gervais Show (HBO). Higgins was also SVP, Programming and Development for Cartoon Network’s kids’ businesses, where he managed the development, production, acquisition and programming departments and oversaw new original animated series, shorts, Cartoon Network features and specials.
Mark is a comedian, a writer, a producer, and a creative consultant. As a writer, he’s worked on a myriad of shows: Back to the Future the animated show, LEGO’s Avengers Reassembled; Sony’s Heavy Gear; Dreamworks’ How to Train Your Dragon, Marvel’s Spider-Man, and many others. His live-action work has included many episodes of Power Rangers. He also wrote the Activision video game Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions along with several other major video game titles. He’s worked on staff at Hanna-Barbera, Universal, Disney, Dreamworks, THQ Games, Marvel, 2K Games, and others. His writing has included live-action, animation, theme park attractions, books, and films. He’s performed around his hometown of Los Angeles at Flappers Comedy Club, The Ice House, The Comedy Chateau, and others. He’s originally from Honolulu, Hawaii
Mike Hollingsworth most recently served as Executive Producer on Netflix’s INSIDE JOB and EP/writer/Supervising Director on Netflix’s Cat Burglar. He was the Supervising Director/Co-Executive Producer of all six seasons of Bojack Horseman and piloted the first season of Tuca and Bertie in the same capacity. His Bojack episode “Fish Out of Water” won the 2017 Annecy Cristal and was voted the number one episode of television by Variety and Time magazines that year.
On the show, Mike also did voices, some writing, and pretty much all of the animal gags. He has written on Comedy Central’s Triptank, and was previously the Supervising Director on HBO’s The Life and Times of Tim. Before that, he was a writer and segment producer for FuelTV’s Stupidface. In addition to all of this, his animated shorts have been featured in The Annecy Animation festival in France, The HBO Aspen Comedy Festival, The Nicktoons Animation Festival, The Pictoplasma Conference in Germany and Animation Block Party, to name a few. You may have also seen his short Golden Girls 3033!
Emmy Award winner Peggy Holmes currently serves as director of Luck, the first animated feature from Apple Original Films and Skydance Animation. Holmes is an animation veteran with more than 30 years of industry experience as a director, writer and choreographer. She previously served as Supervising Director of Television at Skydance Animation, where she helped oversee the creative development and production of the upcoming slate of TV series for the company’s expanding animation division. Prior to joining the Skydance team, Holmes served as director on Walt Disney Studio’s The Pirate Fairy and Secret of the Wings—two of the most successful Tinker Bell films in the Fairies Franchise for the studio. Her first full-length directorial debut was the film The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning.
Before her work as a director, Holmes served as a choreographer on various films including The Country Bears, A Very Brady Sequel, Hocus Pocus, Newsies, Wayne’s World, Mulan 2, Jungle Book 2 and The Fabulous Baker Boys. She has worked extensively in television winning an Emmy Award for “Outstanding Achievement in Choreography” for her work on Fame L.A. Other television choreography projects include the first two seasons of American Idol and Gypsy starring Bette Midler. With her background as a choreographer and dancer, Holmes relishes bringing that emotion life through animated characters that make us laugh, cry and dance.
Holmes’ choreography work also includes commercials for companies such as Coca-Cola and Mercedes; tours for Barbra Streisand and Michael Jackson; and The Academy Awards.
Ron Holsey is executive producer of the new Apple TV+ series Interrupting Chicken. He has written for various animated and live action series including Johnny Test, Martha Speaks, Curious George, Arthur, Elena of Avalor, T.O.T.S., Pinkalicious & Peterrific, Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide, Big Time Rush,Odd Squad and Sesame Street. He was co-story editor for Nick Jr’s Nella the Princess Knight and head writer for award-winning PBS kids interactive series Scribbles and Ink. Ron won a Daytime Emmy for writing on Sesame Street and has been nominated for four additional Daytime Emmys for writing on Sesame Street, Odd Squad and Martha Speaks.
Shane Houghton is creator and executive producer of Disney Branded Television’s animated comedy-adventure series Big City Greens, along with his brother Chris Houghton.
The series, which follows the offbeat adventures of 10-year-old Cricket Green, a mischievous and optimistic country boy who moves to the big city with his wildly out-of-place family, was heavily influenced by the brothers’ childhood growing up in St. Johns, Michigan, a small rural town north of Lansing, also known as the mint capital of the world. Many of the characters are inspired by real-life family members and childhood townsfolk.
A graduate of Florida State University Film School, Houghton has over 10 years of experience as a writer, producer and editor. Prior to Big City Greens, Houghton worked on the animated series Harvey Beaks as a staff writer, while his brother Chris was a storyboard director. Houghton’s first foray into television was as an editor for the reality series Tattoo School.
Together, the Houghton Brothers are also known for creating, writing and illustrating their comic book series Reed Gunther, about a bear-riding cowboy and published by Image Comics. After moving to Los Angeles, they went on to write and illustrate comics for The Simpsons, Adventure Time and Peanuts, among others.
He currently resides in Los Angeles.
Karen Idelson is an entertainment and technology writer who regularly contributes to Animation Magazine, Variety and DGA Quarterly, among other publications. Karen has written extensively on animation, entertainment technology and visual effects in both film and television. An experienced speaker and moderator, she has hosted panels for the hit ABC series “Lost” in the legendary Hall H at Comic-Con, various panels at the World Animation & VFX Summit, SXSW and Variety’s Entertainment Technology Summit. Karen has also worked as a VFX artist for Walt Disney Pictures and as a VFX supervisor for RTL in Germany on the show “Der Clown.”
Elizabeth Ito is a 15 year veteran of the animation industry. She has worked for many different studios on TV, feature, and commercial projects. She is also the creator of the award-winning short, Welcome to My Life, which to-date is the second-most viewed short in Cartoon Network history. It won the Audience Award for children aged between 12 and 17 at the New York International Children’s Film Festival (NYICFF), and Best Film For Children at the Zagreb World Animation Festival. Most recently, Elizabeth created the Peabody Award-winning series City of Ghosts, at Netflix Animation. It premiered in March 2021. Currently, she is living in Los Angeles, staying home with her family, and coming up with new ideas for fun projects to make.
Dave Jargowsky is Vice President of Animation Development, of FOX Entertainment. In his role, he is responsible for overseeing the development and production of a number of FOX Network animated series, including half-hour comedies, such as Krapopolis, one-hour dramas and features.
A Catskills native, Jargowsky is a graduate of NYU’s Music Business & Technology program and began his career at the investment banking firm Unterberg Harris as a New Media Research Analyst. In the late 1990s, he transitioned to the floor of the American Stock
Exchange, where he spent several years as an options trader, focusing on technology and new media stocks.
Jargowsky spent the early 2000s as the Co-Founder of Flybar, a company that developed and manufactured a globally-distributed high-performance pogo stick. In 2008, he pivoted to the entertainment business, co-founding HotHouse Productions as a manager and producer. He has served as executive producer on several episodes of Funny or Die Presents for HBO, The Untitled Andre Hyland Project,Thunderbrain and The Jesse Miller Show for Comedy Central, and Mr. Pickles for Adult Swim. He joined CBB Productions upon its formation in October of 2012, and executive produced Bajillion Dollar Propertie$, Take My Wife, Michael Bolton’s Big, Sexy Valentine’s Day Special and Aunty Donna’s Big ‘Ol House of Fun.
Sander Joon is an Estonian animation director. His films Velodrool (2015), Moulinet (2017), and Sounds Good (2018) have travelled to festivals such as Annecy, DOK Leipzig, Ottawa, Go Short, Stuttgart, Fredrikstad, Kaboom, and GLAS.
Besides films, he has animated a music video for Tommy Cash, participated in a commercial for Rick and Morty, and has been a VJ to numerous events. Sander is also teaching traditional animation at the Estonian Academy of Arts. His latest film Sierra (2022) premiered in Clermont-Ferrand and has been selected to more than 70 international film festivals. Sierra has received the Best of the Fest Award from Palm Springs ShortFest and Grand Prixs from festivals such as Animafest Cyprus, Cinema Jove, Viborg etc. The audience awarded Joon’s latest dark comedy, Sierra, at animation festivals such as Ottawa, GLAS and Turku. Sierra is the first Estonian film acquired by the Criterion Channel. Sander Joon is currently working on his new film Offside.
William Joyce has achieved worldwide recognition as an author, illustrator and pioneer in the digital and animation industry.
He began his film career on Toy Story and has since been a producer/director/screenwriter/production designer in both animation and live action.
In 2009, he founded Moonbot Studios, a multimedia storytelling company producing books, apps, films and video games.
Among his many awards, Bill has won 6 Emmys, 3 Annies and an Academy award for his short film The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore.
He has written and illustrated 50 bestselling children’s books and novels which have been translated into over 40 languages.
Bill was named by Newsweek magazine as “one of the 100 people to watch in the new millennium. His feature films, all based on his books, include Epic, Rise of the Guardians, Robots and Meet the Robinsons. His television series include the groundbreaking Rolie Polie Olie for which he was creator and showrunner.
His new company, Howdybot Studios, is focused on Bill’s stories in a variety of mediums and media. He’s just released his newest short film Mr. Spam Gets a New Hat which is winning awards across the globe. He is also in pre-production on an animated version of the Great Gatsby. Both projects are in collaboration with DNEG Animation and Epic Games.
Bill hopes to someday serve as the first “Secretary of Cheerful Endeavors” for the United Nations.
Andrew Kavanagh is a multi-award-winning writer-director, producer and show-creator. His children’s TV shows can be seen in 23 languages in 140 countries worldwide and are watched every day by thousands of children. His short films have won awards on three continents and have screened at hundreds of festivals.
The company he founded, Kavaleer, is in its twentieth year of business and produces content for BBC, Gulli, Nickelodeon and dozens of other terrestrial and cable broadcasters. Most recently, he has been developing Adam ❤ Adventure! and several high-profile feature film concepts.
Brooke Keesling is the Head of Animation Talent Development at Bento Box Entertainment. She has worked in the animation and VFX industry for decades as a filmmaker, in recruiting & development, and in education. Prior to joining Bento Box, Brooke recruited animation talent for Cartoon Network, Disney, and Warner Bros.
Keesling earned her MFA at CalArts where she produced the stop-motion film, Meatclown and the Student Academy Award winning film Boobie Girl. Upon graduation, she worked in practical and miniature VFX on many films such as Inception, The Dark Knight, Hugo, and The Aviator. Brooke is a member of the Motion Picture Academy, the Television Academy, Women in Animation, and she’s the Vice President of ASIFA Hollywood. Brooke is also on the advisory board of the GLAS Animation Festival, and she teaches in the Character Animation department at CalArts.
Loris Kramer Lunsford
HannahKole is a Senior Development Executive working across Moonbug Entertainment’s premium originals and digital slate including properties such as CoComelon, Little Baby Bum and Blippi. Prior to this role, she has previously worked on writing and developing original and branded long and short-form content for premium partners and platforms such as Netflix, Disney & Nickelodeon. She’s also an Emerson College Alum.
Hannah has a particular love for pre-school and bridge content and is super passionate about continuing to work with world-class talent to develop content kids can aspire to and see themselves in, while approaching meaningful topics at their level of development in an entertaining way.
When she’s not working, you can catch Hannah hitting the roller-rink, doing yoga, or cuddling up with her sweet, orange cat, George Purrogi.
Scott Kreamer is the Emmy-nominated executive producer of the critically-acclaimed, Emmy and Annie Award-winning series Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous from DreamWorks Animation, inspired by the multi-billion-dollar Jurassic World franchise from Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment. Next up for Kreamer is Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous Hidden Adventure, an interactive special premiering on Netflix November 18.
Prior to Jurassic World, Kreamer served as co-executive producer and story editor of DreamWorksCleopatra in Space, now streaming on Peacock.Previously he was an executive producer and story editor of Nickelodeon’s Pinky Malinky and co-executive producer of DreamWorks Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness.
Additional credits include Disney’s Doug, Warner Bros. Animation’s Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain and Universal Animation’s Casper. He currently resides in Los Angeles.
With over 25 years of animation experience and two Emmy® Awards, Joel oversees Bento Box’s production and is an Executive Producer or Supervising Producer on Bento Box projects. He was principally involved in the development and implementation of Bento Box Entertainment’s industry-leading all-digital production pipeline; the only such system used in primetime animation, which has transformed the production process worldwide.
Prior to co-founding Bento Box, Joel was a production executive at Film Roman, where he was Emmy®-nominated as a producer on The Simpsons and produced The Simpsons Movie. Prior to Film Roman, Joel was a producer at Warner Brothers Animation, Sony Animation and Vice President of Production of Icebox.com. Over his career, Joel has designed and built three animation studios from the ground up: Sony Animation, Icebox Animation and Bento Box Entertainment.
Cort Lane is a passionate creative exec with extensive experience in animation development, production & storytelling. Cort is VP of Original Content for Fashion Brands at eOne and Executive Producer of the new My Little Pony series for Netflix. With 12 years at Marvel/Disney and 7 years at Mattel he has built a diverse skillset in kids’ entertainment with credits like Barbie In A Christmas Carol, The Super Hero Squad Show, Ultimate Spider-Man, the girls’ franchise Marvel Rising and recent preschool series Spidey And His Amazing Friends. He has been recognized with two Emmy nominations (for Rocket ‘n Groot and Marvel’s Spider-Man) and two NAACP Image Award Nominations (for Black Panther’s Quest). Cort’s expertise in animation for girls and boys of all ages includes action-adventure, comedy & preschool shows – in every length from short-form to series to feature-length.
Cort currently serves on GLAAD’s Kids & Family Advisory Council. He recently Executive Produced the documentary feature No Straight Lines: The Rise of Queer Comics, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and won the Grand Jury Prize at Outfest. Cort is also writing his ongoing children’s book series Monster and Me from Little Bee and Simon & Schuster.
Curtis Lelash is an award-winning TV Producer and Creative Executive with over twenty years of experience serving leading entertainment and media brands. As the Director of Kids & Family at Netflix, Lelash spearheaded the development and production of a diverse slate of animated series for kids, young adults, and family audiences. Prior to his role at Netflix, Lelash served as the Senior Vice President of Original Series at Cartoon Network. He joined the company in 2005, and quickly rose to the rank of VP, which deemed him responsible for the development and ongoing supervision of the network’s animated comedy series, including Emmy winners Adventure Time, Regular Show, Over The Garden Wall and Steven Universe. Before CN, Lelash gained development experience on theatrical projects at DreamWorks Animation and Storyopolis. With a passion for steering imaginative projects, leading creative teams, and collaborating with storytellers and showrunners at all levels, Lelash’s career achievements include two Peabody Awards, four Primetime Emmys, and twenty Primetime Emmy nominations.
Uri Lotan is an animation director living in Tel Aviv, Israel. After graduating from Ringling College of Art and Design his experience led him to work on feature films for Disney, Kuku and Sony Imageworks. Later he continued to pursue commercial work with Hornet and Buck. He made his debut short film as director in 2021 with Black Slide.
Angus MacLane joined Pixar Animation Studios as an animator in 1997. He has since worked on a number of Pixar’s feature films including Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc., and the Academy Award®-winning films The Incredibles, WALL•E and Toy Story 3.
For his work on The Incredibles, MacLane won an Annie Award from ASIFA-Hollywood for “Outstanding Achievement in Character Animation.”
MacLane directed the short films BURN•E and Small Fry, followed by the television special Toy Story OF TERROR!, for which he won an Annie Award for “Outstanding Achievement in Direction.” He co-directed Finding Dory, and most recently directed Pixar’s feature film Lightyear, currently streaming on Disney+.
MacLane grew up in Portland, Oregon, and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Rhode Island School of Design. He is a huge LEGO fan, and designed the LEGO Ideas WALL•E set released in 2015.
He currently resides in Berkeley, California, with his wife, their two children, and two cats.
Karen K. Miller
Miller is responsible for all operations for the company’s LA-based office including boosting the company’s growth strategies while supporting Cyber Group Studios global acquisition, development and distribution initiatives.
Prior to joining Cyber Group Studios, Miller worked as SVP of content for NBC Universal’s US net Universal Kids, where she oversaw strategy, development, co-productions, productions and acquisitions across all Universal Kids content. She was responsible for growing audiences and building global franchises. Prior to NBC Universal, Miller had an eight-year tenure as VP of worldwide programming strategy, acquisitions and co-productions for Disney Channels Worldwide, where she spearheaded global content acquisitions and oversaw co-productions for the channels. Prior to The Walt Disney Company, she served a seventeen-year career at Warner Bros. as a producer prior to her last position as VP of property acquisitions for Warner’s Consumer Products division.
Hannah Minghella serves as President of Motion Pictures at Bad Robot under the leadership of JJ Abrams and Katie McGrath. In addition to producing Lou, she is currently in post-production on the animated adaptation of Charlie Mackesy’s bestselling book The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse and in production on the upcoming IMAX documentary about the Blue Angels. Additionally, Minghella is overseeing a broad slate of live action and animated movies for the company including the development of the next installments of Star Trek and Cloverfield as well as new adaptations of Superman, the Justice League Dark universe, an English-language remake of the beloved Japanese animated film Your Name and an animated adaptation of Seuss’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
Prior to her appointment at Bad Robot, Minghella spent 14 years at Sony Pictures Entertainment. She first joined Sony in 2005 from Miramax as a director of creative affairs under then Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chair Amy Pascal. In 2008, she was appointed president of production at Sony Pictures Animation, overseeing the launch of franchises Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Hotel Transylvania and The Smurfs. In 2011, Minghella was named president of production for Columbia Pictures, overseeing all aspects of development and production for the label working on numerous movies including 21 & 22 Jump Street, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Sausage Party, and Skyfall. In 2015, Minghella was appointed as president of TriStar Pictures and added TriStar TV to her purview in January of 2018. Under the TriStar label, Minghella oversaw the development and production of A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhooddirected by Marielle Heller starring Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers, Baby Driver directed by Edgar Wright, and T2: Trainspotting directed by Danny Boyle.
Born in England, Minghella sits on the board of City Year, Los Angeles and The Archer School For Girls. She is a founding member of the Los Angeles Women’s Collective and former long term board member of Women In Film. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and three daughters.
Saxton Moore is a professional 2X EMMY nominated Animation Director/Creative Visionary. Saxton has 20+ years of experience producing animated content for the biggest entertainment companies in the US. He started out as one of the leading visionaries that helped with the branding and marketing material for Cartoon Network. At Cartoon Network he directed on hit shows such as Aqua Teen HungerForce and Harvey Birdman. Saxton has also worked as a Creative Director at American Greetings helping to revitalize evergreen IP such as Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake and Madballs to name a few. From 2010-2019 Saxton founded and ran his own animation production house that developed entertainment properties for books, web and TV. He’s produced and directed over 20 Emmy nominated animated shorts for Nickelodeon, Music videos and an adult animated series for FUSEtv. Now helming the role of Executive Creative Director/VP of Production at Lionforge Animation, Saxton continues his mission to create meaningful content that highlight those who are underrepresented in the media.
Fletcher Moules is a Director, Writer & Producer, working predominantly in animation, for features and television.
Fletch is the Director of the critically acclaimed Entergalactic, a feature length animated special on Netflix starring Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi, Jessica Williams, Ty Dolla $ign, Timothée Chalamet, Laura Harrier and Venessa Hudgens.
He is currently in production on the upcoming Elvis themed adult animated series Agent King for Netflix/Sony Animation, where he serves as Writer, and Co-Executive Producer.
Fletch is perhaps best known as Director and Designer of the popular Clash of Clans short films. These shorts have received over 800 million YouTube views.
Working with Directors Smith & Foulkes as VFX Supervisor, Fletch led the production of the animated short This Way Up which was nominated for the Best Animated Short Oscar® at the 81st Academy Awards.
John Musker hails from a large Catholic family in Chicago. After attending Loyola Academy for high school, and later Northwestern University and CalArts, he went to work for Disney Animation.He spent 40 years there where he, after animating on the Fox and the Hound, wrote and directed several feature films along with his partner Ron Clements.Those films include The Great Mouse Detective, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Hercules, Treasure Planet, and Princess and the Frog.They also directed Moana, their last Disney feature, in 2016.
John retired from Disney in spring of 2018 and has been animating his own hand drawn short film.He and Ron also have an animated feature project in development at Warner Brothers.
John has also recently taught animation at Chapman University in Orange, California.He and his wife Gale live in La Canada where they raised their three children Patrick, Jackson, and Julia.
John is currently busy chasing his three granddaughters around:Lucy, 5, Gwen, 3, and Marigold, 9 months.
Emily Nordwind is Senior Vice President of Movies for Paramount & Nickelodeon Animation.Emily is part of the team developing original ideas and re-imagining beloved franchises for both theatrical release and streaming.
Emily has been at Paramount Global for five years as a studio executive.Prior to that she spent a decade in Production at DreamWorks working on iconic titles including the Madagascar franchise, Captain Underpants, and Home.
Alissa Nutting is a creator, screenwriter, and showrunner, most recently of the HBO MAX original Made For Love based on her New York Times Editor’s Choice novel of the same name.
Nutting, along with Emmy-nominated producer Alyson Levy (The Shivering Truth), is co-creator of the Adult Swim animated series Teenage Euthanasia. Teenage Euthanasia is a dystopic coming-of-all-ages comedy series about death, family, and accidental resurrection.
Patrick Osborne is a Writer, Director, and Animator who after 15 years contributing to feature animated projects at Sony Pictures Animation and Disney Animation Studios, made his directing debut with his Oscar winning short film Feast. He followed up that with a second Academy Award nomination for his film Pearl, for Google Spotlight Stories, which also earned him Emmy and Peobody recognition for its unique VR storytelling. Patrick is currently working on projects with Nexus Studios and Evil Eye Pictures, as well as writing and developing projects with Apple and Netflix, and dreaming about what the future holds for animated storytelling in his Southern California garage workshop.
Pierre Perifel made his feature director debut with the April 2022 release of The Bad Guys, from DreamWorks Animation. He most recently served as head of character animation on the short film To: Gerard and as a director of the short film Bilby, both of which received numerous awards and industry accolades.
He joined DreamWorks in 2007 and worked as an animator on Kung Fu Panda, Monsters vs. Aliens, Shrek Forever After, Kung Fu Panda and then stepped into the role of Lead Character Animation and Supervising Animator on the film Rise of the Guardians.In addition, he directed the short film Le building. In 2008, Perifel received an Annie Award for Best Character Animation in a Television Production/Short Form Content for his work on Kung Fu Panada: Secrets of the Furious Five.
His work is heavily influenced by the iconography of French graphic novels and European films, blending the simplification of illustrative animation with the sophistication of live action staging.
A native of the Auvergene-Rhône-Alpes region of Lyon, France, Perifel is a graduate of the prestigious Gobelins, L’Ecole de L’Image in Paris and is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Art and Sciences (AMPAS).
Emmy Award®-winning animation veteran Dan Povenmire is creator and executive producer of Disney Channel’s original animated superhero series Hamster & Gretel.
Povenmire is renowned for co-creating and executive-producing Disney’s five-time Emmy® Award- winning series Phineas and Ferb, for which he earned ten Emmy® Award nominations, in four different categories ranging from songwriting to voice-over performance, and won for Outstanding Writing in Animation in 2010.
Along with his Phineas and Ferb co-creator, Jeff “Swampy” Marsh, Povenmire also co-created and executive-produced Disney’s Milo Murphy’s Law, an animated series that followed 13-year-old Milo Murphy, the great-great-great-great grandson of the Murphy’s Law namesake.
Most recently, Povenmire was co-creator, executive producer and supervising director of Disney+’s original animated adventure movie Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Candace Against the Universe, in which he also reprised his role as the ridiculously evil Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz.
With over 25 years of experience in directing, storyboarding and writing, Povenmire has worked on multiple critically acclaimed animated series including Family Guy, SpongeBob SquarePants, The Simpsons, Rocko’s Modern Life and Hey Arnold!
Povenmire was born in California and raised in Mobile, Alabama. He studied cinema at the University of Southern California and is married with two children.
Mike Rauch is the co-creator of the Peabody Award-winning animated shorts series StoryCorps which also earned a total of four Emmy nominations and two Annie Award nominations (Best Animated Special Production and Best Animated Short Subject). He previously spent five years as a Series Executive at Cartoon Network covering shows such as The Powerpuff Girls, Apple & Onion, and Victor and Valentino, as well as recently consulting on development and production of Cartoon Network Latin America’s new lucha libre series Rey Mysterio vs. The Darkness. Prior to that, Rauch formed and ran Rauch Bros Animation for nine years with clients including Nickelodeon, Warner Bros. Animation, Sesame Workshop, and the Olympic Channel.
Now the Head of Original Animation at BUCK, Mike Rauch’s move to the cutting-edge animation studio was covered by Animation Magazine, Deadline and Animation World Network, among others. Rauch brings a unique perspective into the executive leadership role having gotten his start producing indie shorts and co-creating a shorts series. He’s able to put himself in the shoes of creators and showrunners, having done several of the creative jobs from pre-production through post.
Pamela Ribon is a screenwriter (Moana, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Bears), performer, VR and TV writer, comic book writer (MY BOYFRIEND IS A BEAR, SLAM!), best-selling novelist, and filmmaker. She created and wrote the SXSW and Annecy award-winning My Year Of Dicks, an animated adaptation of her critically-acclaimed comedic memoir NOTES TO BOYS (AND OTHER THINGS I SHOULDN’T SHARE IN PUBLIC), which NPR called “Brain-breakingly funny.” She co-hosts the podcast Listen To Sassy, a weekly deep-dive through every issue of the beloved 90’s teen magazine: Sassy. Pamela is also known as a pioneer in the blogging world with pamie.com, where she launched such viral essays as “How I Might Have Just Become the Newest Urban Legend” and “Barbie Fucks it Up Again.” Pamela has been entered into the Oxford English Dictionary under “muffin top.” (That is not a joke.)
Sam Riegel is a Los Angeles-based voice actor and Emmy Award-winning
voice director, known for his roles in animation and video games, as well
as co-founding the massively popular hit show and media brand, Critical
Role and executive producer of The Legend of Vox Machina.
Critical Role has become one of the most popular storytelling and world
building independent media companies in the world, and Sam plays a
pivotal role within the company as a co-founder, primary cast member
for the flagship show and executive producer of The Legend of Vox Machina animated series which will air exclusively on Amazon Prime
Over his decades-long career, Sam has voiced iconic animated characters
such as Donatello in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ketch on Bad Batch, Emperor Awesome on Wander Over Yonder, Shiro Emiya in Fate/Stay Night, Viral in Gurren Lagann, Mephisto in Blue Exorcist, and Metal Bat in One Punch Man. Notable video game characters include Peter Parker/Spiderman in The Amazing Spider-Man games, Starscream in Transformers Cybertron series, Teddie in the Persona series, Gramble Gigglefunny in Bugsnax, and Phoenix Wright in several Ace Attorney games.
Sam has also served as voice director for Disney’s DuckTales, Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur, Elena of Avalor, Sofia The First, as well as Archibald’s Next Big Thing for Dreamworks, DC Superhero Girls for Cartoon Network, and Kid Cosmic for Netflix, among others.
Sam earned an Outstanding Directing in an Animated Program Daytime Emmy for his work on Amazon’s Danger & Eggs, as well as two other Daytime Emmy nominations. He is the recipient of three BTVA People’s Choice Voice Acting Awards and a BTVA Video Game Voice Acting Award. He also won the Austin Film Festival for best Half-Hour Television Writing and he’ll continue to win the hearts of viewers every Thursday night on Critical Role, where he currently plays the lovable robot, Fresh Cut Grass.
Alex Rockwellis a six-time Emmy nominated showrunner, writer, and creator of children’s entertainment.Most recently, she created for television and executive produced The Jim Henson Company’s mixed media preschool series Slumberkins (Apple TV+), based on the children’s emotional learning brand. Also with the Jim Henson Company, Rockwell created and executive produced the Netflix original preschool series Word Party and its spinoff Word Party Presents: Math!, co-created and executive produced the Emmy-nominated preschool series Pajanimals, and co-wrote and producedFrances, the first animated series to utilize the award-winning Henson Digital Puppetry Studio. In 2018, Rockwell was nominated for the Emmy award for Outstanding Writing in a Preschool Series for the Netflix original series Julie’s Greenroom,also produced by The Jim Henson Company.She developed and executive produced the stop motion comedy series Norman Picklestripes (Universal Kids Network) which was nominated for Emmy, Annie and Kidscreen awards.
Rockwell began her career working for Jim Henson as his creative assistant. In 1992, she was named Executive Vice President of Creative Affairs for The Jim Henson Company charged with overseeing the creative on all television, film, and home video productions.She developed a variety of projects including primetime series Dinosaurs (ABC), Muppets Tonight (ABC), and Farscape (Syfy), primetime mini-series Gulliver’s Travels (NBC) and Jack in the Beanstalk(CBS), feature films The Muppet ChristmasCarol (Disney), Muppet Treasure Island (Disney), and Elmo in Grouchland (which she produced), as well as an array of children’s series including Bear in the Big Blue House, which she executive produced. From 1998 to 2008, Rockwell worked as an in-house producer and consultant for the Jim Henson Company. In 2008, Rockwell became a freelance writer/producer.
Rockwell was born and raised in New York City. She graduated from Yale University in 1985, Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature. In 1992, she married David Kissinger. They now have four children and reside in Santa Monica, California.
Frank oversees all aspects of Surprise Bag’s producing and consulting business, including IP incubation, financing, distribution, co-production partnerships and production for live action and animated media. He is currently Executive Producer of the animated pre-school series, Sweet Tweets airing on Knowledge Network and AVOD, and co-creator and EP of the live action tween dramedy, Kick Flip which is in development with CBC. Frank recently penned his first novel, “Victor and The Infinite & Mysterious Hallway of Loos” with writing partner, Rita Street for Green Kid’s Club Publishing. The middle grade book is in development with Mexico’s Anima Estudios, with Saperstein and Steet serving as writing EP Showrunners. Saperstein recently served as EP for NBC/Universal’s primetime animated sitcom, The Pole featuring the voices of SNL’s Colin Jost and Bobby Moynihan airing on Syfy and Peacock.
Mr. Saperstein consults as an industry expert for law firms, venture capital, private equity, banks, non-profits and governmental agencies on the analysis, analytics and evaluation of brands, corporate assets, and industry trends for mergers, acquisitions, investment and dispute resolution.
Frank previously served as President of British Columbia based animation studio, Yeti Farm Creative, providing production services for clients including Disney, SONY, Amazon Prime, Nickelodeon, and Sega. He previously served as EVP at Tricon Film’s & Television, SVP of Family Television for Entertainment One building the Peppa Pig franchise, and Co-CEO/Creative Director of PASI (Philippine Animation Studio, Inc.). He has also been a Development Executive with VH1/MTV Networks. Frank’s early credits include gender-bending classics Pee-wee’s Playhouse, (CBS), Bob & Margaret (Comedy Central) and EMMY nominated Ren & Stimpy, (Nickelodeon), as well as a stint as Producer/Director with Prince’s Paisley Park Studios. He holds an MFA from New York University Tish School of The Arts where he won a Ten Best Student Oscar and several other awards and accolades.
Sander Schwartz is an independent producer of animated and live-action kids’
content. Over the past few decades, he has developed and produced dozens of
animated series for linear channels, streaming platforms and other media. From
2009 through 2013, he was President, Kids & Family Entertainment for
Fremantle. He was previously President of Warner Bros. Animation, responsible
for the production of theatrical and television animation. Prior to joining Warner
Bros., Sander served as President, Sony Pictures Family Entertainment Group.
As a producer, Sander has received multiple Emmy Award nominations, and was
awarded a Daytime Emmy for The Batman series. Among other awards for his
work, are the Humanitas, Peabody and the Prism Awards.
Henry Selick is the director, writer, production designer and producer whose films have defined a generation of animated storytelling. Coraline, based on the beloved novella by Neil Gaiman, was adapted for the screen and directed by Mr. Selick, who also was a producer and the production designer on the LAIKA film.
He directed the iconic Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach.He is a member of a handful of animated film creators whose work inspires a devout worldwide fandom. Alongside Jordan Peele, Mr. Selick is co-writing and directing Wendell & Wild for Netflix, scheduled for release in 2022.
Domee Shi began as a story intern at Pixar Animation Studios in June 2011, and was soon hired as a story artist on the Academy Award®-winning feature film “Inside Out.” Since then, she has worked on the feature films The Good Dinosaur, Incredibles 2 and the Academy Award®-winning Toy Story 4.
In 2015 she began pitching ideas for short films, and soon was green lit to write and direct Bao which won the Academy Award® for Best Animated Short Film. In her role as a Creative VP, Shi is involved in key creative decision-making at the studio and consults on films in both development and production. Shi most recently made her feature film directorial debut on Turning Red, which released on Disney+ March 11, 2022.
Shi graduated from the animation program at Sheridan College where she was fueled by her love of anime/manga, Disney, and Asian cinema influences that can be seen in her work to this day.
Shi was born in Chongqing, China and resided in Toronto, Canada most of her life. She currently lives in Oakland, California and notes that her love of animation is only rivaled by her love of cats.
Matt Shichtman joined leading management/production company The Gotham Group in 2010 as an assistant, before rising through the ranks to become Manager and eventually Partner. Working across the company’s live action and animation departments, with a particular passion for the latter, Shichtman represents top visual story tellers like David F. Sandberg (Lights Out, Annabelle 2, Shazam), Pat Casey & Josh Miller (Sonic, Sonic 2, Violent Night), Chris Winterbauer (Wyrm, Moonshot), Olan Rogers (Final Space), Mike Rubiner (The Loud House), Latoya Raveneau (Rise Up; Sing Out), Tony Stacchi (The Boxtrolls), Rosa Tran (Anomalisa), Mark Satterthwaite & Pedro Eboli (Cupcake & Dino, Gary & His Demons), Simon Smith (Penguins of Madagascar, Bee Movie), and Bernard Derriman (The Bob’s Burgers Movie), among many others. He has worked with many of his clients from the earliest days of their careers, and holds a strong belief in getting creative to build pathways to opportunity for unique and underrepresented voices. With this goal in mind, Shichtman launched The Gotham Group’s Emerging Technologies department in early 2022 to additionally leverage the power of Web3, and blockchain technology more broadly, to create new opportunities for clients to retain ownership and control as they build and monetize projects.
Craig Silverstein is the creator and showrunner of Pantheon (AMC+). Previous shows he created and ran include Turn: Washington’s Spies (AMC), Nikita (CW) and Standoff (Fox).
He has also served as writer/producer on FOX shows The Inside, Bones, Drive and K-Ville, as well as USA/SyFy’s The Dead Zone and The Invisible Man. Currently, he is an executive producer on The Old Man (FX) and Percy Jackson (Disney+). Craig is a graduate of the University of Michigan’s Film and Television program.
Azarin is currently the Corporate Events Manager at Netflix focussing on Content teams including Studio Operations, Marketing, Communications and Animation.
She was a freelance festival programmer and consultant most recently, focussing on fostering the voices of underrepresented talent and stories. In her previous role as the Industry Director at the Canadian Film Institute (CFI), which hosts the Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF) and the International Film Festival of Ottawa (IFFO), Azarin programmed and lead the 3-day industry event TAC and Indie Talks series, and launched the Animation Exposé Professional Development Program and IFFO Screen Summit. She was also the lead on all corporate partnerships and development strategies for the organization.She sits on the Advisory Board of Algonquin College’s Animation Program, was a Co-Founder of Ottawa’s DIY music festival, Ottawa Explosion Weekend and was a Series Producer on The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada vs. Australia.
Claudia Spinelli is Nickelodeon’s Senior Vice President of Animation for Big Kids. In this role, Spinelli oversees the Development and Production of all animated content for Kids 6-11.Her most recent projects include: Star Trek: Prodigy, Transformers:EarthSpark (which is being produced in a partnership with eOnes), the SpongeBob SquarePants spinoffs Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years and The Patrick Star Show,Big Nate,The Middlemost Post, and the Monster High animated series(produced in a partnership with Mattel).
Spinelli began her career at Nickelodeon in 2000 in Animation Development before expanding into Current Series where she oversaw the brand management of SpongeBob SquarePants, The Fairly OddParents, Jimmy Neutron and Avatar: The Last Airbender. As SpongeBob SquarePants grew in popularity, Spinelli was elevated to Executive in Charge (EIC) of the series in 2007. Throughout her career at Nickelodeon, Spinelli also served as EIC of Sanjay and Craig, Harvey Beaks, Robot and Monster, Get Blake!, Random! Cartoons, The Mighty B!, Making Fiends, and Planet Sheen, among others.
Spinelli’s work on SpongeBob SquarePants extended beyond the show as she has helped initiate projects throughout other areas of the company including: marketing partnerships with Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade; SpongeBob SquarePants theme park attractions; the franchise’s expansion into Social Media, video games featuring the iconic character; and SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical, which garnered 12 Tony Award nominations.
Spinelli holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in film from New York University. She also earned a Master of Fine Arts in Animation and Digital Arts from University of Southern California, where later she taught a class on Introductory Principles of Motion for Animation for the Interactive Media Department. In between her degrees, she held a number of positions in various animation houses in New York City on commercials and short films.
An Emmy® winning and ten-time Emmy®-nominated television producer, Halle Stanford serves as President of Television at The Jim Henson Company, leading the development and production of all television, home entertainment, and digital media in animated and live-action formats establishing the Company’s creative culture across all territories.
Stanford most recently executive produced Slumberkins, Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock, Harriet the Spy and the short form series Fraggle Rock: Rock On!, all for AppleTV+, Duff’s Happy Fun Bake Time for discovery+ and the critically acclaimed Emmy®-winning Netflix series The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. Other recent award-winning children’s programming credits include the Emmy®-nominated Dinosaur Train, Splash and Bubbles, and Sid the Science Kid, which currently air on PBS KIDS® in the U.S. and in multiple markets around the world, the Netflix Originals Word Party and Julie’s Greenroom, starring Julie Andrews; the NBCUniversal Kids/CBC animated series Dot., based on Randi Zuckerberg’s popular book; and the NBCUniversal Kids/Hulu Original preschool show Doozers, inspired by the wildly popular characters from the classic series Fraggle Rock. Other credits include the live-action puppet series Me and My Monsters for the CBBC and Network Ten in Australia, the Lifetime live-action holiday special Jim Henson’s Turkey Hollow, and the Emmy®-nominated preschool series Pajanimals for Universal Kids.
Stanford is in development on a new slate of television projects including All-of-a-Kind Family based on the acclaimed series of books by Sydney Taylor; The Kissing Hand, based on the internationally renowned picture book; Lena! based on Karen Katz’s books, author Rebecca Green’s How to Make Friends with a Ghost, and The Witchlands, based on the popular New York Times best-selling book series by Susan Dennard.
Stanford co-authored a book series, Jim Henson’s Enchanted Sisters, a collection of fantastical comedy-adventure stories for girls published by Bloomsbury and currently in development as a series.
In addition to her Emmy®-nominations, Stanford received a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Children’s Program (The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance) and is a recipient of the Cynopsis Top Women in Media award as well as the Cynopsis Kids !magination Award in Content Leadership. Over the last sixteen years she has also garnered over 100 honors around the globe for the Company’s programming, including Emmy Awards, Parent’s Choice Awards, Rockie Award, Cynopsis Kids !magination Awards, NAPPA Honors Award, Kidscreen Awards, Prix Jeunesse, and National Parents Publications Awards.
Stanford joined The Jim Henson Company in 1993 and worked on beloved Muppet projects like Muppet Treasure Island, Muppets Tonight, and Bear in the Big Blue House, as well as the sci-fi cult classic Farscape. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degrees in Film and Theater from Wesleyan University, is a Cub Scout Leader, a proud mom to two sons (ages 11 and 24!) and is on an endless quest to enrich the lives of children around the globe.
Jane Startz is a multi-Emmy Award-winning producer and president of the production company, Jane Startz Productions, Inc., which acquires, develops and produces intellectual properties across all media platforms. She is known for adapting high-profile literary material for children and families around the world. Prior to overseeing her own production company, Startz co-founded and served as the Executive Vice President of Scholastic Productions, the film and television division of Scholastic, Inc.
Among Startz’s theatrical credits are Ella Enchanted, Tuck Everlasting, The Indian in the Cupboard, The Mighty, and The Baby-Sitters Club. Her Emmy award-winning animated television series, The Magic School Bus, which she developed and executive produced, became a major children’s franchise and is the longest-running science-based show in broadcast history. Startz is currently producing the upcoming animated feature film, The Tiger’s Apprentice, for Paramount, starring Henry Golding, Sandra Oh and Lucy Liu. Her live action feature-length film, The School For Good and Evil, starring Charlize Theron, Kerry Washington, and Laurence Fishburne, premiered on Netflix in October 2022. For Disney+, Startz produced Sneakerella, the streamer’s first original movie musical. For Nickelodeon, Startz is producing the animated series, Max and The Midknights, based on the New York Times bestselling graphic novel of the same name by Big Nate author, Lincoln Peirce. Her animated series, Duck and Goose, premieres on Apple in July 2022. Her pre-school animated series, Llama Llama, based on the bestselling books by Anna Dewdney, is airing on Netflix.
Currently, Startz is developing movies based on four high-profile children’s book properties: Song for A Whale, Roller Girl and Kingston and the Magician’s Lost and Found, for Disney+, and Goddess Girls for Netflix.
Startz has also produced a wide array of content for television, including the long-running series, Charles In Charge, The Last Day of Summer, The Truth About Alex, My Sweet Audrina, the V.C. Andrews mini-series, Ruby Landry and Heaven, and the Emmy award-winning live action series, Spooksville, based on the bestselling books by Christopher Pike. Get Rolling With Otis, an animated series executive produced by Startz, recently premiered on Apple+.
In addition to producing, Startz serves as the media consultant for publisher Penguin Books for Young Readers. She also works as a literary manager helping writers develop entertaining cross-media franchises. These properties include the international bestselling series, The School For Good and Evil, Kingston and the Magician’s Lost and Found, Gabby Duran and the Unsittables and Always Anjali. She created the six-part book series, Amigas, for Disney-Hyperion and is co-creator and co- founder of Ridemakerz, an award-winning retail and online brand which inspires self-expression through the creation of one-of-a-kind toy cars.
Startz is a member of the Association of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, The Producers Guild of America and the Writers Guild of America.
Nellie Tehrani is the current VP of talent at Paramount Pictures Animation where she oversees all recruitment efforts for the studios film productions. With over 20 years spent in the animation industry Nellie has worked with studios such as Animation Magazine, The Art Institute of California, Technicolor Interactive and more recently, Psyop Productions where she served as head of production working in short form animation prior to joining Paramount.
Wendy Tilby studied visual arts and literature at the University of Victoria before attending the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, where she majored in film and animation. With the success of her student film, Tables of Content, Tilby was invited to join the National Film Board of Canada in Montreal. Her first film, Strings (1991), won many international awards, including a Genie Award (Academy of Canadian Cinema) and first prize at the Hiroshima International Animation Festival, in addition to being nominated for an Academy Award®.
For her next film, Tilby joined forces with Amanda Forbis to direct When the Day Breaks (1999). It received numerous honours, including the Short Film Palme d’Or at Cannes, an Academy Award® nomination and the Grand Prix at the Annecy, Zagreb and Hiroshima international animation festivals. In 2011, they followed up with Wild Life, which garnered a number of prizes and was also nominated for an Academy Award®. The duo recently completed their third NFB short, The Flying Sailor (2022). Inspired by real events, it tells the story of a sailor who, in a catastrophic explosion, takes a very unexpected voyage.
In addition to their personal work, Tilby and Forbis have collaborated on assorted commissioned projects, including illustrations, theatrical projections and TV commercials. Interview, their acclaimed ad for United Airlines, was nominated for an Emmy in 2004. In 2018, they were recipients of ASIFA’s Winsor McCay Award for their “exceptional contribution to the art of animation.”
Tilby has taught animation at Concordia University (Montreal) and Harvard. She has served on many animation panels and festival juries and, from 2007–2009, was external examiner for animation at the Royal College of Art in London.
Nora Twomey is an Academy Award®, BAFTA & Golden Globe nominated Director. She is also Partner & Creative Director at Cartoon Saloon, Ireland. In a career spanning over two decades, Nora has worked in a number of capacities on Cartoon Saloon’s creative output. She was co-director to Tomm Moore’s Academy Award® nominated The Secret of Kells while also guiding the development processes on a number of series including Emmy nominated Puffin Rock and Dorg Van Dango. She was Head of Story on Academy Award® nominated Song of the Sea and Producer on Wolfwalkers. She directed The Breadwinner, which was also nominated for an Academy Award® & Golden Globe, and won several international awards including multiple Annies and the Audience & Jury Awards at Annecy. My Father’s Dragonis Nora’s third feature and second solo-directed film. She lives in Kilkenny with her husband, children, two cats and one fish,
Spirit Rangers creator and showrunner Karissa Valencia will share her journey from writer’s assistant to developing and executive producing a show inspired by her Chumash tribe and other Natives for Netflix. She will talk about the importance of representation for the youngest audiences, the power of mentors and staying true to your vision and trusting your creative instincts.
Annette Van Duren
Annette Van Duren
Annette van Duren is a well-respected independent agent representing a select
group of successful writers, directors, artists and producers. Her focus is on the kids
and family space, although she has worked very successfully in network prime time
and feature film.
Annette received her MBA from the Anderson School at UCLA. She has a BS from
Virginia Commonwealth University. She regularly attends KidScreen, MIPJr,
MIPCOM, and the World Animation and VFX Summit.
Dave Wasson is an Emmy and Annie award winning television producer, director, and writer. He is currently the executive producer on Netflix’s upcoming series The Cuphead Show!, which he developed based on the characters from the game. Before this, Dave worked as a director, writer, and storyboard artist on the Emmy award winning series Mickey Mouse Shorts for Disney. He also created the animated series Time Squad for Cartoon Network and wrote and illustrated the picture book “The Big Ideas of Buster Bickles” published by Harper Collins. In addition to this he has saved two people’s lives using the Heimlich Maneuver.
Chris Williams is an Academy Award ® -winning director and writer of animated films. Chris has been drawing since he could hold a pencil, and growing up he was obsessed with visual storytelling. He wrote comic strips, made stop motion films, and loved all things movies. He is a graduate of the University of Waterloo’s Fine Arts program and Sheridan College’s animation program. Upon graduation, he moved to Los Angeles and began his career in animation, which spans across iconic films such as the Academy Award ® -nominated Bolt, Academy Award ® -nominated Moana, and Big Hero 6 which won the Academy Award ® in 2015, along with many others. The Sea Beast, William’s debut at Netflix, released globally on July 8th.
Kris Wimberly is co-founder and Head of Creative for Studio Smokescreen, an independent, Black-owned animation studio dedicated to leading significant changes in diversity and inclusion across the animation industry. The full-scale, Los Angeles-based “bridge” studio, the first of its kind, is designed to elevate marginalized and underrepresented talent striving to break into roles on big studio projects.
Kris is a classically trained director and storyboard artist who currently serves as director on Disney Branded Television’s latest Disney Junior animated series, Firebuds, which debuted September 2022. Prior to Firebuds, he served as a storyboard artist on Disney’s Elena of Avalor.
In addition to Disney, Kris has worked at nearly every major studio including Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Warner Bros. and Universal, among others over the span of his 15-year career. He specializes in comedy and action-comedy, and has worked on TV productions of nearly every type – from 2D, CG and Flash Animation to script-driven and storyboard-driven, and across preschool, kids and primetime television series, as well as a couple of animated feature films.
Kris’ credits include Close Enough, Curious George 4: Royal Monkey, Spongebob SquarePants and Teen Titans Go. He currently has a new project in development at Disney Television Animation about a time-traveling treasure hunter.
A graduate of California State University, Fullerton, Kris worked as a custodian at Disneyland while working his way up the ranks to pursue his passion for animation.
Jennifer Wolfe is a veteran writer and journalist covering the business and artistry of the global Media & Entertainment industry. The former editor-in-chief of Animation World Network, her writing has also been published in Animation Magazine, American Cinematographer, Creative Planet Network, Digital Video Magazine, IndieWire and Variety.
Ramin Zahed is an LA-based author and journalist who specializes in animation, visual effects, pop culture and indie films. He is the Editor in Chief of Animation Magazine and has written for Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Los Angeles Times, Emmy Magazine and others. Among his recent books are The Art of Love, Death + Robots, The Art of My Father’s Dragon, The Art of The Mitchells vs. the Machines, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, The Art of the Movie and The Art of Klaus.