For the 2015 Jury, SPARK ANIMATION has gathered an esteemed group of professionals from across the animation industry. Here's our list:
Partner, Co-Founder // Bron Studios
Brenda Gilbert is the Partner & Co-Founder of Bron Animation, a subsidiary of Bron Media Ventures (Bron), whose other subsidiaries include Bron Studios, The Realm, Bron Releasing, Bron Creative Corp, and Bron Capital Partners (formerly Media House Capital).
Bron, co-founded in 2010 by Brenda Gilbert and Aaron L. Gilbert, is a BC-based producer of original live-action and animated motion pictures. Bron Animation is currently in production of the original animated motion picture Henchmen, directed by Adam Wood and featuring the voices of James Marsden, Thomas Middleditch, Rosario Dawson, Rob Riggle, Jane Krakowski, Alfred Molina, Nathan Fillion, Will Sasso and Bobcat Goldthwait. Recently, Bron Animation completed three Mighty Mighty Monsters animated specials, an original property distributed by Entertainment One Films.
The company has also produced over 20 feature films since its founding, working with new voices and established talents both in front of and behind the camera. Recent feature films include Special Correspondents (starring Ricky Gervais, Eric Bana, and Vera Farmiga), acquired by Netflix; and I Saw the Light (starring Tom Hiddleston and Lizzie Olsen), acquired by Sony Classics.
Writer, Director // Snowden & Fine
David Fine is an Oscar-winning filmmaker who works in Vancouver with his partner, Alison Snowden. Together they have written, directed and created award-winning animated TV shows and short films, including the Oscar-winning short film Bob’s Birthday and the acclaimed TV series Bob and Margaret, the highest rated Canadian-made animated series ever!
David was born and raised in Toronto and is still a Leafs fan. He studied film in the UK at The National Film and Television School where he met his wife and creative partner, Alison. They have been collaborating ever since.
Their films have won numerous international awards and nominations including awards at Annecy, Ottawa, Chicago, Zagreb, Canadian Genies, BAFTA nominations and two more Oscar nominations. They also created 52 episodes of the kids series Ricky Sprocket Showbiz Boy for Nickelodeon and Teletoon.
David and Alison have also directed numerous animated TV commercials as well as developed and written for other productions, including the award-winning UK series Peppa Pig. They co-developed the series Shaun the Sheep for Aardman Animations. David and Alison have also written and directed live-action short films and documentaries.
They are currently making a new short animated film with the National Film Board of Canada.
Head of 2D Animation // Capilano University
Don has been training artists for the animation industry for twenty-five years and has developed or co-developed career animation programs in universities in Malaysia, China and Mexico. He helped found the animation program at Algonquin College (Ottawa) in 1990 and moved to North Vancouver in 1994 to set up Capilano University’s animation department. Don has coordinated and taught Capilano’s internationally recognized classical animation program ever since.
He continues to work in the industry whenever possible as an animator, storyboard artist and consultant on 2D production pipelines for studios including DHX Media, Bardel Entertainment, Slap Happy Cartoons, Jester Coyote and the National Film Board of Canada. He is a beta-tester for TV Paint Development (France) and his most recent adventure was teaching 2D animation in the inaugural “Train the Trainers” initiative, working with animation instructors from five, Kingston post-secondary institutions for the Government of Jamaica and The World Bank.
JERICCA CLELAND csc
Jericca Cleland is an independent writer-director who developed as a filmmaker in the story-centric environment of Pixar Animation Studios. She collaborated with storytelling greats such as John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich, and Joe Ranft. Cleland is currently writing and directing an animated feature film with Oscar-nominated animation studio Nørlum and recently co-directed computer-animated adventure-sci-fi feature Ratchet and Clank based on the beloved comedic Sony Playstation property. She has written and directed mini-series and short films in 2D animation and live action which have gained attention for compelling story, strong performance, and cinematic quality.
As an animation cinematographer at Pixar, Cleland designed the filming and staging of the popular and ground-breaking films Finding Nemo and Toy Story 2 while maturing a keen sense of story and a strong visual aesthetic. This work carried into other critically acclaimed feature films, including Sony/Aardman’s Arthur Christmas and continues to influence her directing and cinematic work today.
Cleland is also CCO of Nørlum and is represented by Sandy Weinberg of Summit Talent Agency, Los Angeles, California.
JORGE R. GUTIÉRREZ
Director, Writer, Character Designer // Reel FX
Born in Mexico City and raised in Tijuana, Gutierrez attended CalArts, where he received his BFA & MFA. His thesis Carmelo won the Student Emmy Award.
He has directed, written and designed characters for Warner Bros, Disney, Cartoon Network, Sony and DreamWorks. Gutierrez and his wife Sandra Equihua, created the Emmy winning series El Tigre, The Adventures of Manny Rivera for Nickelodeon.
Gutierrez recently co-wrote and directed The Book of Life, a CG-animated feature for Reel FX and 20th Century Fox, produced by Guillermo Del Toro and Brad Booker. The film was been nominated for a Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice Award, Producer’s Guild Award and Annie Award for Best Animated Feature.
Most recently, Gutierrez signed onto a deal with Reel FX to write and develop his next picture — Untitled Kung Fu Space Western with Sandra Equihua returning as Character Designer, Doug Langdale as co-writer and Brad Booker as producer.
He currently lives in Tijuana, Los Angeles and Texas.
Film Critic, Podcaster
Marina started writing about film in 2005 and launched a movie podcast in 2006. In 2007, she joined a group of fellow film writers and launched Row Three, a website for film fans with a passion for films beyond what’s playing at the local theatre. Row Three is still going strong and now hosts eight podcasts on film including After the Credits which Marina co-hosts.
In 2008, Marina joined the writing staff at Quiet Earth, one of the largest genre news websites on the internet. Marina became the Editor-in-Chief of Quiet Earth in 2014.
She also co-hosts Before the Dawn, a weekly podcast about movies and television adapted from books.
Marina is a member of the Online Film Critics Society and the Alliance of Women Film Journalists. She joined the Spark CG Society as Festival Director.
Two-time Academy Award®-nominated director Mark Osborne has been telling stories with animation for more than twenty-five years. In addition to directing the first ever animated feature film adaptation of the classic French novella The Little Prince released in 2015 worldwide, he was one of the directors of the critically acclaimed 2008 blockbuster Kung Fu Panda which broke box office records worldwide and was nominated for an Academy Award® for Best Animated Feature.
Osborne was selected to develop Kung Fu Panda on his award-winning animated short MORE, which screened at more than 150 film festivals worldwide and garnered an Oscar® nomination for Best Animated Short and a Special Jury Prize for Short Films from the Sundance Film Festival, among dozens of other awards. Previously Osborne was awarded a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship, as well as dozens of awards for designing and producing graphics and animation for television.
Osborne studied at New York’s Pratt Institute before earning his BFA in experimental animation from the California Institute of the Arts. Osborne returned to CalArts in 1997 to teach Advanced Filmmaking Techniques and has since given lectures and taught on the subject of animation worldwide.
Marv Newland made his first animated short, Bambi Meets Godzilla in 1969. He then designed and/or directed TV IDs, commercials and short films for companies in Toronto, Ottawa, New York, Los Angeles and Holland.
In 1975, he founded the production company International Rocketship Limited in Vancouver, Canada. He has worked as animation director and producer of commercials, series and shorts for Rocketship and has designed and directed films for the National Film Board and other studios in Canada, Europe and the USA.
Newland received the Grand Prix at the Annecy International Animation Festival, France for his direction of Gary Larson’s Tales From the Far Side (1995). He has conducted animation workshops in Canada and Europe, served on animation festival juries, is an instructor at Vancouver Film School and continues to create animated motion pictures.
Children’s Media Consultant
Most notably as the Creative Head of Children and Parents Media for TVO, Patricia Ellingson has been instrumental in creating a wealth of award-winning multi-platform children’s content.
In addition to numerous Gemini, Canadian Screen and Youth Media Alliance awards for TVOKids’ original content, Pat was awarded the Alliance for Children and Television’s 2009 Outstanding Achievement Award for her commitment to excellence in children’s programming.
Pat has worked with some of the world’s most notable producers who share her commitment to the creation of innovative children’s content. Internationally, her co-productions credits include Wild Kratts, Annedroids, Dino Dan, Finding Stuff Out, Ella the Elephant, Zerby Derby, Heads Up, Hi Opie!, Miss BG, Peep and the Big Wide World, Rob the Robot, Think Big, This is Daniel Cook, Timothy Goes to School.
Over the past two decades, Pat led the the team that made TVO the most trusted media brand for children in Canada today. She was responsible for the convergence of TVO’s new media and children’s television and rebuilding the tvokids.com website, making it one of the most popular kids’ online destinations in Canada.
Head of Department, Animation & Visual Effects // Vancouver Film School
Vanessa Jacobsen, a Montreal native happily ensconced in the Vancouver scene, founded and owned It's All Fun & Games toy store on Commercial Drive for 17 years before moving on to work in the CG Industry for a time starting with a position with the Vanguard/Starz production of Space Chimps, the second CG movie ever made in Canada.
Vanessa has worked for Vancouver Film School for 8 years starting in the role of Administrative Manager for the 3D Animation & Visual Effects. Over the years, she has built strong partnerships in the entertainment arts industry to enhance the student experience and to support graduates transitioning into their careers. Now as the Head of Department, her connections are far reaching and Vanessa has been instrumental in successfully guiding and supporting hundreds upon hundreds of students through the program and into successful artists out in industry.
As the Industry continues to grow in Vancouver, so does Vanessa’s immediate knowledge of what the Industry needs and she is able to formulate these requirements into the program’s pipeline through improvements to curriculum, industry showcase evenings, and an extensive mentorship program. Vanessa has been on a variety of panels at SIGGRAPH 2012, the SPARK festivals, Vancouver ACM SIGGRAPH chapter events, and Career Fairs. As a member of the Visual Effects Society as well, Vanessa continues to strive to be an educational leader for all future CG artists.
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