Animag Announces Pitch Party Winners!

The votes have been tallied, and the winners of Animation Magazine‘s ninth annual Pitch Party are ready to be announced!

So without further ado, the winners are:

First Place: Monkey & Robot, by Mars Elliot and Kenneth Gray, Academy of Arts, San Francisco

Last year, Academy of Arts students Ken Gray and Mars Elliot entered their Monkey and Robot characters and placed third place with our judges and first place with our online readers and staff. Their pitch generated lots of interest in their property and Mars tells us the school was very impressed with them and their adviser Shaun Featherstone put together a special class for them, so they could actually produce an animated short featuring the two beautifully drawn characters. So, they fine-tuned their pitch, created a new design and entered our Pitch Party one more time. This time around, they hit the jackpot!

Mars says he was thrilled to learn about the judges’ decision, especially since they already have a talented team working on the short. ‘Monkey and Robot are both living at the British Museum, and when the staff goes home, Monkey turns Robot on and they have these adventures until sunrise,’ he notes. ‘One night, they discover a secret lab which spells trouble for their future, so they have to escape to an outside world that they’ve only read about before,’ explains Mars.

The short, which is estimated to be finished by spring of 2011 will be CG-animated, but will have a ‘jazzy’ Toon-shaded look and soft painted backgrounds. Featherstone is exec producing, Ken is directing and Mars is art directing the project, which will also involve 10 to 15 Academy students this fall. ‘The initial idea for the project morphed a few times,’ says Ken. ‘The 19th century is an interesting time to me’it’s when the corners of the map were still unexplored and the line between art and science was blurry.’ Something tells us that we’re going to be see a lot of Ken, Mars, and their 19th century pals in the near future.

Second Place: Ya Big Chicken! by Garry Black

Sometimes a familiar schoolyard insult can help spark a wonderful idea. Just ask New York City-based Garry Black who thought about Ya Big Chicken! as he was trying to come up with a new property. ‘I thought how that would turn out literally and the fun of having someone transform into a big chicken when something happened to them that they couldn’t control, like being scared,’ says Garry. He developed the idea further and thought of having his ‘victim’ use his chicken powers to be a hero and defend kids against bullies and other scary things. ‘I’ve written 13 episodes so far, and I think they’re insanely funny,’ he adds.

A life-long fan of animation, Garry has an impressive string of credits, from art director at toy company Colorforms to creative director of corporate marketing Marvel Entertainment. ‘After Marvel I moved into comics, first at SyFy to do a series of web comics which quickly turned into Internet animation where I learned how to produce an animated show. Finally, I returned to comics to co-create the Jet Pack Pets, which appeared in Disney Adventures for seven years. The benefit of my marketing background provides me with the licensing and promotional aspects that I always keep in mind when developing a new property.’

Garry says he was hugely influenced by the timeless characters and situations of Chuck Jones toons when he sat down to create Ya Big Chicken! For now, he says he would love the opportunity to produce an animated series so that he can translate what he does in comics to make great kids entertainment. You can see some more samples of Garry’s wonderful artwork at We hope his chicken is able to spread its wings on TV someday soon.

Third Place: Benjamin’s Basement by Candice Prince, Capilano University

Many of our judges liked the imaginative concept and open-ended possibilities of Vancouver-based Candice Prince’s pitch about a little boy’s mysterious basement. The talented 24-year-old just wrapped a two-year commercial animation and design program in Canada’s Capilano University. She is now working for the awesome Vancouver-based Nerd Corps Entertainment, home of hit shows such as Storm Hawks and League of Super Evil.

‘I always had a lot of crazy ideas for children’s books and TV series,’ she tells us. ‘I usually base them on silly experiences I had as a child myself! Now that I have graduated, I hope to push for lead designer or director at Nerd Corps one day.’

When asked about her animation heroes, Candice says he doesn’t necessarily have any particular favorite: ‘Great features are a team effort, and there are just too many talented people to pinpoint to as the ones I admire most,’ she explains. And her ten-year plan? ‘I would love nothing more than to be directing my own series or feature to share with the world or anyone just willing to watch!’ We hope Benjamin’s Basement will open lots of doors and lead to more successes for this up-and-coming young artist, especially since last year’s third-prize winner is now this year’s first-prize champ!

Animation Magazine’s Staff Picks

First Place: Ya Big Chicken! (Garry Black)

Second Place: Wolf Whiskers (Keith Krail)

Third Place: Monkey & Robot (Kenneth Gray and Mars Elliot)

Animag Online Readers’ Picks

First Place: Wolf Whiskers (Keith Krail)

Second Place: Four Angry Men (John Maxwell)

Third Place: Death & Taxis (Dave Barton Thomas)

Winners get to pitch their idea to their choice from our panel of judges, made up of some of the top executives in the industry, plus coverage in our August issue, which is due out next week!

Top winners also get a copy of Storyboard Pro: The Power of Digital Storyboarding (a value of $899.99) and a copy of From Word to Image: Storyboarding and the Filmmaking Process by Marcie Begleiter (supplied by Marcie and Michael Wiese Productions).

Congratulations to all our winners and entries!