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Pitch Party ’09: Meet the Winners!

Festivals and Events

Pitch Party ’09: Meet the Winners!

It was a tough job, but someone had to do it! Our animation industry judges spent the last week reviewing the eclectic and colorful pitches submitted by this year’s clever contestants. That’s why we are now ready to announce the winners of the Eighth Annual Animation Magazine Pitch Party. We also received a record number of online votes from our daily site visitors (6,322, to be exact!). Our grand prize winner will be given the chance to pitch to the judge of her choice and perhaps become the next big thing in animation. Additional prizes include a copy of the software suite Toon Boom Animate (a value of $999.99), a selection of animation books from The Animated Cartoon Factory, copies of Chronicle Books’ The Art of Up by Tim Hauser, and a copy of the 2D software title Digicel Flipbook Studio (for Mac or PC). In addition, second or third place winners, staff picks and online voters favorites will get coverage in our August edition

We’d like to thank everyone who voted for their part in making Pitch Party ’09 our magazine’s most popular contest of the past 20 years.

First Place: Clerence

by Chelsea Gordon-Ratzlaff, Capilano College

Sometimes, a clean, imaginative drawing and a simple concept are all that you need to really make a big impact. That’s certainly the case with Chelsea Gordon-Ratzlaff’s pitch, which centers on a cute little dragon that’s descending to our world tied to a balloon. The talented 18-year-old animation student at Capilano College tells us that the idea for the toon just came to her one day.

‘The book I was reading at the time had these little tiny dragons and described this one that I thought was just adorable! So I started doodling him’as I do with most characters in books that I read’OK, all characters in books that I read! And I ended up drawing him tied to a balloon. I thought it would be cute seeing as how I kept drawing him with tiny wings so that he couldn’t fly.’

Chelsea says she’s using her time off during the summer to make a short animated project in Flash. Yes, she’s designing, directing, organizing and animating everything’and even held auditions over the Internet for voice actors! When asked about the future, she says she’ll be happy as long as she gets to continue drawing. She has also spent several years developing her own animated series titled Not Quite Normal ( and hopes she gets to see it come to fruition in the years ahead. ‘Maybe I’ll give 3D animation a try now that Pixar is in Vancouver,’ she adds. ‘Working at Disney is another dream of mine’nudge, nudge, hint, hint!’ One thing’s for sure: this impressive young talent is going to have an amazing career

ahead of her, with or without the cute dragon!

Second Place: Jolly & Roger’s Misguided Adventures

by Stephen Silver and Frank Rocco

As a ridiculously gifted character designer and well-respected CalArts teacher and author, Stephen Silver has inspired numerous audiences and students through the years. Not only has he worked on acclaimed shows such as Kim Possible and Danny Phantom, he’s produced several insightful books about the art of cartooning and character design. So we were totally thrilled to see his latest creation, Jolly & Roger’s Misguided Adventures on the judges’ list.

‘The drawing was simply inspired by my four-year-old son, Caiden,’ says the London-born artist. ‘He never had a cursed pirate hat, but he knew how to wear his pirate costume everywhere, months after Halloween. Early into it I approached my extremely talented friend,Frank Rocco, and asked if he would like to help me co-create the property. From that point on, I believe we came up with a great show concept that we hope everyone else will enjoy as much as we do.’

Silver is working on numerous personal projects, book publishing and teaching an online character design course on as well as returning to teach at CalArts in the fall. Rocco is also illustrating children’s books, comics and designs on upcoming Nickelodeon shows. Frank was also creative director for Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! where he was a lead designer, writer and story artist. You can learn more about these two amazing guys at and

Third Place: Monkey and Robot’s Flying Circus

Kenneth Gray and Mars Elliot, Academy of Arts

Monkeys and robots have always had a special place in our hearts, so it’s not surprising that Academy of Arts students Ken Gray and Mars Elliot decided to put the two enigmatic players in their meticulously drawn pitch.

‘I’ve had the idea for an uptight monkey and a goofball robot hanging out and having wacky adventures in the vein of Ren & Stimpy for quite a while,’ explains Ken. ‘I teamed up with Mars and the initial idea morphed a few times … The 19th century is an interesting time to me’it’s when the corners of the map were still unexplored and the line between magic and science was blurry.’

The creative and very articulate San Francisco-based duo will be going back to the Academy in the fall, but hope to see themselves working on a ‘wildly successful cartoon series’ in the near future. ‘As long as the world doesn’t come to a screeching halt in 2012, the last year of the Mayan calendar,’ muses Ken. Mars adds, ‘I’m not as optimistic as Ken: I think by 2019, moving pictures will be a commodity few could afford and even fewer will want as they remain a bitter remnant of our lost humanity. Myself? I’ll be busy with the rest of the survivors reinforcing the perimeter fences to keep the insectoid-men at bay!’

Animation Magazine Staff Picks:

First Place: Monkey & Robot’s Flying Circus

(by Gray and Elliot)

Second Place: Jolly & Roger’s Misguided Adventures (by Silver and Rocco)

Third Place: Duck and Cover (by Oryan Ventura and Maya Arad)

Online Voters’ Picks:

First Place: Monkey & Robot’s Flying Circus (by Gray and Elliot)

Second Place: The Do-Good Gang! (by Ainsley Waller)

Third Place: Harold & the Walrus (by Daniel Contois)

The Pitch Party is an extremely targeted advertising campaign designed to help indie producers and up-and-coming talents present their ideas to influential people who currently hold key positions in the development and production of animated television. Contestants who purchased a 1/6th’page ad at a discounted rate in this issue were able to get their ideas off of their computers and draft tables, and in front of these execs and the animation industry at large.

We wish our grand prize winner, Chelsea Gordon-Ratzlaff, the best of luck with Clerence and all her other projects and hope all of this year’s contestants take advantage of the exposure their ideas will receive in the magazine. Next year’s Pitch Party will be here before you know it (deadline is June 15, 2010), so start getting those pitches together now!

Be sure to check out all of this year’s Pitch Party ads in the August (Comic-Con) issue of Animation Magazine!

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