For years, Los Angeles has been host to a slew of animation events. This year, for the first time, many of them are coming together under the umbrella of the new World Animation Celebration, which takes place March 24 to 30 in Pasadena, California. This multifaceted show encompasses a wide range of public and industry events touching on the art and business of the animation industry. The new show comprises the Los Angeles International Animation Celebration and Competition; a first-ever animation business conference; several industry-sponsored contests; an animation opportunities expo; a technology conference; World Animation 2000, in which 2,000 students produce a feature-length film in 10 hours; presentations on careers in animation; and an Animation Art Gallery Symposium.
Its roots date back to the International Tournee of Animation, which started in 1966 as a showcase for seldom-seen animated works. From the tournee, the Los Angeles International Animation Competition spun off under Terry Thoren’s direction in 1985. Today, Thoren, who is president and CEO of Klasky Csupo and owner of Animation Magazine, is executive producer of the entire event.
The World Animation Celebration is ‘the only animated film festival in the United States,’ says Celebration director Leslie Sullivan. It will host an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 attendees at the Pasadena Civic Center and surrounding venues. Several competitions, including the MTV Character Screen Test Audition, the Nickelodeon Nicktoons Short Film Storyboard Competition and the Klasky Csupo Screenwriting Competition, will award over US$48,000 in cash prizes. Winners will also be given opportunities to showcase their work.
The two-day First International Business Conference of Television Animation is new this year, and will offer panel discussions and seminars geared to promote cross-pollination between American and international markets. ‘Never before has a forum existed for international producers to formally present projects to those who can make things happen,’ says Sullivan. The Business Conference ‘provides an insider perspective on how to break into animation, and how to get the European market interested in your project,’ agrees Laurien Towers-Gatlin, International Business Conference director.
Six high-powered panel discussions by international animation players headline the Business Conference. Issues facing independent producers in the U.S. and Europe will be tackled by panels consisting of industry heavy-hitters such as Warner Bros.’ Jean MacCurdy, Film Roman’s Phil Roman, and Klasky Csupo’s Gabor Csupo. Sessions will include ‘What Are American Broadcasters Looking For?’ and ‘What Are the Ingredients of an Effective Co-Production?’
In conjunction with the panels, 20 pre-selected animation producers will present their projects to conference attendees, among whom will be executives looking for acquisitions and co-productions.
Also debuting at Celebration is the New Animation Technology Exposition. It’s ‘the digital or technology portion of the program,’ says Sullivan. Exhibitors will set up booths in the exhibition hall and demonstrate high-tech industry tools. Another first at Celebration is International Animated Film Association (ASIFA) Hollywood’s Animation Opportunities Expo, an exhibition where recruiters and educators will open their booths to interested attendees. ‘It’s offering recruitment opportunities for people who are interested in working in the field,’ says Sullivan. ASIFA will also put on Animation Industry Seminars and Workshops mini-courses on the nuts and bolts of animation.
The film festival portion, the Los Angeles International Animation Competition, will show films in competition throughout the week, culminating in an official awards ceremony on Saturday, March 29. In addition, the Los Angeles International Animation Celebration will offer a full schedule of film screenings, premieres, retrospectives, tributes and special shows. ‘It’s a tribute to animators throughout the world,’ says Towers.
The festival’s Opening Gala, a ticketed event, ‘will be honoring past and present Academy Award winners in animated film,’ Sullivan explains. Interestingly, it falls on the same night as the Academy Awards themselves. ‘We’ve invited nominees in the animation categories to come. So we’ll have some of the winners from the Academy Awards coming over to us afterwards,’ she adds. Major sponsors of the Animation Celebration are also expected to attend.