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Short Films from Student to Pro

Title: Short Films from Student to Pro
Sponsored by The Animation Educator’s Forum
Length 45 min

The Animation Educator’s Forum presents:  Filmmakers -  from student film to the professional world. This panel will focus on the experience of producing and completing a short animated film and the joys and fears of entering film festivals. They will also discuss the transition the film makers went through from student to professional.

aubrymintz_thumbModerator: Aubry Mintz

Aubry Mintz has worked as a director, animator and storyboard artist at several animation houses in Canada and the United States. Aubry has worked as a feature animator at Industrial Light and Magic (The Mummy) and Square USA  (Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within) and as a freelance animation director for television and the Internet working on projects for clients such as Smirnoff, McDonalds and General Mills.

As an Associate Professor, Aubry Mintz was Chair of the Feature Animation program at Laguna College of Art and Design where he developed a BA program to train students who now work at top animation studios (Pixar, Blue Sky) and is presently creating an Animation sub-discipline within the Illustration department as at California State University Long Beach. Aubry has also traveled abroad to India where he taught ‘Acting for Animation’ and ‘Animation Storytelling’ workshops at several animation studios.

Passionate about animation as an art form and the synergy of collaboration, Aubry has produced 16 short films and continues to direct and animate every year.

Sheila Sofian_thumbPanelist: Sheila Sofian

Sheila M. Sofian’s independent films are a hybrid of documentary and animation. Her films examine human rights and social injustice.  “Survivors” is an animated documentary on domestic violence. “A Conversation with Haris” is a conversation with an 11-year-old Bosnian immigrant about his experience with war, set to painting-on-glass animation. Other work examines topics such as relationships and patriotism. Sheila received a grant from the National Video Resources Program for Media Artists, as well as a Guggenheim Fellowship, for production on her upcoming film, “Truth Has Fallen,” an animated/live action film about people wrongfully convicted of murder. Sofian has previously received grants from the Pew Fellowships in the Arts, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Women in Film Foundation, a Roy W. Dean Film Grant, and a residency at the MacDowell Colony. Her films have been televised on WHYY’s “Independent Images” in Philadelphia, WYBE’s “Through the Lens” in Philadelphia, and WTTW’s “Image Union” in Chicago.

Festival awards include: Grand Jury Prize, New Orleans Film Festival; Best Animated Film Award, Humboldt International Film Festival; First Prize, the World Animation Celebration; First prize in Animation, Central Florida Film & Video Festival; a Student Academy Award and Best in Show at the New England Film Festival, among others. Sofian’s films are distributed educationally and in home video markets.

Her freelance work includes animation for the feature film “Closetland”, and animated content for the internet. Sofian was head of the Animation Program at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia from 1992-1997. She chaired the Animation Program at College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita from 2001-2006. Sofian holds a BFA in Film/Video from the Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA in Experimental Animation from the California Institute of the Arts. She is currently Department Chairand Associate Professor in the John C. Hench Division of Animation and Digital Arts, School of Cinematic Arts, University of Southern California.


jessicaforer _thumbPanelist: Jessica Forer

Jessica Forer grew up watching old movies and classic animation.  Her parents are both heavily interested in film and music, which inspired Jessica at a young age.  Her favorite film of all time is Disney’s Pinocchio and you can catch her laughing hilariously to Laurel and Hardy shorts, classic films and vintage Warner Brothers, Disney, and MGM cartoons.  Jessica loved to do art since before she could walk, and she has been drawing ever since.  She knew she wanted to work in the entertainment industry since elementary school, but wasn’t sure what area she wanted to work in.  After discovering Loyola Marymount University offered a Bachelors program in Animation, she decided to major in it, and minor in studio arts.  After graduating from LMU in 2005, Jessica spent a busy summer in Westwood, CA a place she would call home for the next three years while she earned her MFA in Animation at UCLA.  After completing an internship at Nickelodeon, working as a TA for Charles Solomon as well as working part time at the UCLA Film & Television Archives, Jessica completed the program in three years and graduated in June of 2008 with her Masters.  Jessica now works as a Production Assistant at DreamWorks Animation in Glendale, California and would one day like to teach the History of Animation at a major University.

G. Melissa Graziano_thumbPanelist: G. Melissa Graziano

G. Melissa Graziano is currently a third-year MFA Animation student at UCLA. She made Love on the Line while in her second year at the UCLA Animation Workshop, during which she won the coveted Dan McLaughlin Award for Best Animated Film for 2008. Her first film, Because You’re Beautiful, is currently being used for promotional purposes by Girls Speak Out!, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to helping girls “express their true selves and build girls’ strengths and power as leaders.“ Melissa has always loved to tell stories, whether it be in her writing, in her visual art, or in her films. While a visiting student at the University of Central Lancashire as an undergraduate, Melissa started experimenting with different media in animation. She enjoys telling stories in the traditional sense, but using materials and technology in ways that not only make audiences wonder, “How did they do that?” but which also enhance the story. Melissa is currently working on her MFA thesis film When Walls Could Talk. She aspires to become a Feature Animation Director at a major animation studio after a stint at Storyboarding. Originally a New England girl, she now resides in Los Angeles.

erikoh_thumbPanelist: Erik Oh

Erick Oh is an award winning animation artist based in Los Angeles. His work has been introduced and nominated at Annecy, Siggraph, Anima Mundi, Ars Electronica, Student Academy Awards, LACMA Director’s Night, and numerous other film festivals. He spent most of his life in Korea where he started producing a variety of work, in which the boundaries were blurred between media and contents. Even though it is in animation where Erick feels most comfortable as his main tool to communicate and interact with the viewer, he would not consider himself only as a film maker but as an artist who continues trying to expand the definition of animation and art. By building on his fine art background established in Seoul National University, Korea where he achieved his BFA degree, he continues his in-depth study in animation. He is currently enrolled at UCLA’s MFA graduate film program.

JonVener_thumbPanelist: Jon Vener

Jon Vener began his career in Animation in an unlikely way:

completing a Bachelor’s of Music in Percussion Performance from the University of Michigan.

Several years and occupations later, he returned to school for a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Animation at Woodbury University in Burbank, CA. Drawing on his previous experience with rhythm and timing, he narrowed his focus at Woodbury to Character Animation.

Good fortune continuing, Jon managed to land a job animating video game cinematics while on breaks from school and, after graduating Summa Cum Laude, was hired as a Character Animator at Blur Studios in Venice, CA.

joaquinbaldwin_thumbPanelist: Joaquin Baldwin

Joaquin Baldwin is an Annie Award nominee director and animator from Paraguay.

Living in Los Angeles, he is now finishing his MFA in animation at UCLA.

He has received over 70 international awards for his animated films Sebastian’s Voodoo and Papiroflexia, and also several grants including the Jack Kent Cooke full Graduate Scholarship in 2006.

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