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WIA Announces ACE Program Finalists at SPARK Summit

WIA Animation Career EXCELerator
WIA Animation Career EXCELerator

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WIA Announces ACE Program Finalists at SPARK Summit

Women in Animation’s (WIA) Vancouver chapter has selected the six finalists for their Animation Career EXCELerator Program (ACE). The announcement was made live at the WIA Vancouver and SPARK Animation, Diversity & Inclusion Summit’s grand finale on October 30.

The esteemed jury included media industry elites Brenda Gilbert (BRON Media Corporation), Jennifer McCarron (Atomic Cartoons), Teri Snelgrove (NFB), Strategic Consultant Kirsten Newlands, Heather Puttock (Kickstart Entertainment), Shabnam Rezaei (Big Bad Boo Studios), Kim Dent Wilder (Mainframe), Julie Stewart (Go Team Stewart), Tracey Mack (Urban Safari) and Rose-Ann Tisserand (Flying Kraken).

The six finalists that will be working together to write, develop and produce an animated short film are:

  • Writer – Robyn Campbell
  • Producer – Tini Wider
  • Director – Ana Gusson
  • Art Director – Cindey Chiang
  • Animation Director – Erica Miles
  • Composer – Eva Pekarova

“I am incredibly proud and honored to have been on the jury panel for WIA’s Animation Career EXCELerator (ACE) program with like-minded passionate women who are in leadership positions in our industry, exemplifying support for one another and providing opportunities for aspiring future female leaders,” said Gilbert, Co-Founder & President of BRON Media. “The program spearheaded by Rose-Ann Tisserand and Tracey Mack has given women an invaluable training and mentoring experience, which will benefit our animation community with more female representation in key creative roles.”

ACE is an expanded and updated version of the organization’s Five in Focus program. This year, six women have been selected who represent key creative positions in animation, positions in which women have been traditionally underrepresented and where WIA aims to increase representation. The program was created to significantly advance the candidates’ careers through extensive mentorship, exposure to a wide range of industry activities, masterclasses, pitch training with International Pitching Specialist, Jan Miller, and coaching in social media and marketing. ACE has expanded from a one-year to a one-and-a-half-year program in which candidates will be provided with financing to write, develop and produce an animated short film. Their project will have its world premiere screening at the SPARK Animation Festival in October 2021.

Snelgrove, Producer at the BC & Yukon Studio of the National Film Board of Canada, said, “Participating in this jury process has introduced me to a community of amazing women creatives in our local animation community. I have been blown away by the talent and creativity exhibited by every individual with whom we met and cannot underline the importance of this program in advancing women in key creative roles.”

Last year’s program saw women selected in five categories including Director, Writer, Art Director, Animation Director and Producer, this iteration has grown to include Composer as a sixth category. ACE also incorporated new expanded masterclasses for each of the shortlisted applicants per category in a direct effort to expand the educational reach to more than the six finalists. The expanded program supports WIA’s mission for gender equity in the animation industry, with a goal of reaching 50/50 by 2025, and advancement of women in key creative roles.

“By expanding ACE’s process of mentoring and training to include not only the 6 finalists, but all of the short-listed candidates, we not only tripled ACE’s reach, it raised the calibre of talent showcased to the jury in a truly humbling way. We already knew our process worked based on last year’s team of five women who, as Spectacle Five Films, continue to win awards with their film The Butterfly Affect,” said Rose-Ann Tisserand, WIA Vancouver Board Member & Founder of ACE

The ACE program is supported by Creative BC, Telefilm Canada, CMPA BC Producer’s Branch, Toon Boom, Autdodesk, Spark CG Society, Boughton Law, Producer Essentials, Pender PR, The Research House.


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