The Talk of the Town: The World Animation Summit Brings the Industry Together Once Again!

The 2022 edition of the World Animation Summit was certainly one for the books. Bringing together a wide range of stellar Toon Town superstars and visionaries, the four-day event (Nov. 6-9) was a true celebration of the art form and the brilliant people who create the movies, TV shows and shorts that have inspired and entertained us through the years.

This year’s 2022 Hall of Fame honorees were:

Kristine Belson. President of Sony Pictures Animation, who has led the studio through its brightest years (which have seen the release of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, The Mitchells vs. the Machines, Vivo and Hair Love). (Award presenter: Director Chris Sanders)

Jorge R. Gutierrez. Writer-director of Netflix’s Annie Award-winning limited series Maya and the Three, director of the feature The Book of Life and co-creator of Nickelodeon’s Emmy-winning show El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera. (Award presenter: Animator/painter/character designer Sandra Equihua)

Ramsey Naito. President of Nickelodeon Animation and Paramount Animation, who has been a driving force behind movies such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and PAW Patrol: The Movie and hit shows such as Star Trek: Prodigy, Big Nate, Santiago of the Seas and Kamp Koral. (Award presenter: Voice actor Tom Kenny)

Peter Ramsey. Academy Award-winning director of Sony’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and DreamWorks’ Rise of the Guardians, producer of 2023’s Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse and director of Netflix’s limited series Lost Ollie. (Award presenter: Animation effects supervisor Marlon West)

Henry Selick. Academy Award-nominated director of stop-motion classics The Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline and James and the Giant Peach and Netflix’s acclaimed new feature Wendell &Wild. (Award presenter: Director Brad Bird)

Mark Swift. Long-time DreamWorks Animation producer whose many credits include Penguins of Madagascar, Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, The Croods: A New Age and this year’s Puss in Boots: The Last Wish. (Award presenter: Director Joel Crawford)

Genndy Tartakovsky. Creator of beloved and award-winning animated shows such as Samurai Jack, Sym-Bionic Titan, Star Wars: Clone Wars and Primal and director of Hotel Transylvania and two of its sequels. (Award presenter: Producer Shareena Carlson)

TeamTO. Pioneering French indie animation studio behind such favorites as Angelo Rules, Mighty Mike, YellowBird, Rabbids Invasion, City of Ghosts and the upcoming show, Jade Armor. (Award presenter: Writer/exec producer Nadine van der Velde)

The gala ceremony was hosted by actor/writer Dan Wicksman.

Karissa Valencia | Mike Hollingsworth
Karissa Valencia | Mike Hollingsworth

On Monday, the summit began on a bright note, with two spectacular creative keynotes delivered by talented show creator Karissa Valencia (Spirit Rangers) and the always hilarious writer, director, animation supervisor and exec producer Mike Hollingsworth (Cat Burglar, BoJack Horseman, Tuca & Bertie, Inside Job). Audiences were treated to an inspiring panel featuring successful animation show creators and exec producers Ben Bayouth, Mary Bredin, Josie Campbell, Bob Higgins and Shane Houghton. Industry veteran Sander Schwartz hosted a timely panel on finding the right global partners with Simon Barrionuevo, Frank Falcone, Andrew Kavanagh and Karen K. Miller.

As it has become a tradition at the summit, this year’s top animated feature award season directors dropped by for an energetic look at their movies during two separate panels. We were lucky to have Dean Fleischer Camp (Marcel the Shell with Shoes On), Joel Crawford (Puss in Boots: The Last Wish), Mark Gustafson (Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio), Peggy Holmes (Luck), Chris Williams (The Sea Beast) and (via tape) Domee Shi (Turning Red) during the first hour, and Don Hall (Strange World), Angus MacLane (Lightyear), Pierre Perifel (The Bad Guys), Henry Selick (Wendell & Wild) and Nora Twomey (My Father’s Dragon) during the second hour of the presentation.

Oscar contenders
Oscar feature contender panelists (top L-R) Dean Fleischer Camp, Joel Crawford, Mark Gustafson, Peggy Holmes, Chris Williams, (bottom L-R) Don Hall, Angus MacLane, Nora Twomey, Pierre Perifel & Henry Selick

Monday’s events ended with a spirited discussion about L.A.’s indie animation studios with Mark Caballero, Mo Davoudian, Selma Gladney-Edelman, Mark Hoffmeier and Mike Rauch.

The next day, attendees were treated to a colorful look at how to pitch projects to animation studio execs, moderated by industry veteran Curtis Lelash, with Alexei Bochenek, Ian Graham, Sadaf Cohen Muncy and Kris Wimberly. Next up was a highly informative look at “the business of show business” with Debbie Flores, Matt Shichtman, Annette Van Duren and Anna Berthold-Zuk. Next in line were Kim Berglund, Eryk Casemiro, David Jargowsky and Frank Saperstein, who offered attendees great tips on how to make their projects stand out in the eyes of animation execs.

Superstar Showrunners
Superstar Showrunners (L-R) Tze Chun, Scott Kreamer, Dan Povenmire, Dave Wasson & Cort Lane

After lunch, the “Secrets of Superstar Showrunners” panel brought Tze Chun (Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai), Scott Kreamer (Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous), Cort Lane (My Little Pony: Make Your Mark), Dan Povenmire (Hamster & Gretel) and Dave Wasson (The Cuphead Show!) to the Summit for another dynamic hour of conversation and hot tips. This year’s well-attended “Animation Survival Guide” featured Saraswathi Vani” Balgam, Kimberly Dennison, Josh Fisher, Guillaume Hellouin, Joel Kuwahara and Saxton Moore.

Summit audiences were treated to a special Nickelodeon panel, focusing on how to build successful kids’ franchises for global audiences, with Eryk Casemiro, Emily Nordwind and Claudia Spinelli, hosted by Jake Friedman.

Short film panelists
Short film panelists (L-R) Tom CJ Brown, Amanda Forbis, William Joyce, Sander Joon, Hannah Minghella, (front) Wendy Tilby & Pamela Ribon

The day closed with an entertaining look at a panel featuring some the top animated shorts directors and producers of the year, with Tom CJ Brown (Christopher at Sea), Amanda Forbis & Wendy Tilby (The Flying Sailor), Sander Joon (Sierra), William Joyce (Mr. Spam Gets a New Hat), Hannah Minghella (The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse) and Pamela Ribon (My Year of Dicks), followed by an exclusive screening of the awards season shorts (Uri Lotan [Black Slide] and João Gonzalez [Ice Merchants] were also represented via tape).

A wonderful presentation by celebrated Disney director John Musker (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, The Princess and the Frog, Moana) brightened everyone’s morning on Wednesday. Moderated by Jennifer Wolfe, the next panel offered an informative look at some of the new innovations in animation technology and businesses featuring Tricia Biggio, Matt Bilfield, Davis Brimer and Hannah Kole.

John Musker
Animation legend John Musker took audiences on an entertaining tour of recent animation history.

Rob Di Figlia, Elizabeth Ito and Patrick Osborne explored the latest real-time achievements in animation in a panel on how game engines are used to develop IP and build storylines in a whole new way. A special spotlight on Apple TV+’s dynamic new animation lineup featured Laura Clunie, Ron Holsey, Loris Kramer Lunsford, Alex Rockwell, Halle Stanford and Jane Startz, moderated by Karen Idelson.

The final day of the Summit also included a helpful primer on how to reach out to animation studio’s hiring execs, with Bryan Dimas, Ariel Goldberg, Brooke Keesling, Azarin Sohrabkhani and Nellie Tehrani. Another big hit was a special look at the new wave of adult animation, moderated by writer/producer John Derevlany, featuring Fletcher Moules (Entergalactic),  Alissa Nutting (Teenage Euthanasia),  Sam Riegel (The Legend of Vox Machina) and Craig Silverstein (Pantheon). The 2022 edition of the summit closed with an entertaining fireside chat with the always charming and brilliant Sony Pictures Animation president Kristine Belson, followed by a closing night party in celebration of the studio’s 20th anniversary.

K Belson Sony Party
Kristine Belson gave the Summit’s closing remarks before celebrating SPA’s 20th Anniversary (and Animation Magazine’s 35th) on the beautiful grounds of The Garland.

“We were thrilled and honored to have so many of our animation industry friends and talented stars at our Summit this year,” said Animation Magazine president and Summit founder Jean Thoren. “Thanks to our generous sponsors, we were able to bring four days of entertaining and highly valuable panels for our attendees once again. Every year, we are struck by the generosity and kindness of everyone at this event, and we’re constantly reminded of how important it is to catch up with our friends in the industry in this intimate and inspiring environment.”

Event director Kim Derevlany added, “Thanks to all of the amazing people who joined us at the Summit this year. It was so rewarding to witness everyone’s in-person participation after months of planning and prep work to produce this event. Believe it or not, we are already planning the 2023 edition, so please put the dates (Nov. 5-8) on your calendars! We hope you can all join us next year!”

Catch up on all the fun at animationmagazine.net/summit. The World Animation Summit will be back November 5-8, 2023. 

Jean Thoren
Animation Magazine publisher & World Animation Summit founder Jean Thoren

World Animation Summit 2022 photography by Will Thoren.

 

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