Animator Emily Dean will be making her feature directorial debut with Tao — an original, female-driven sci-fi adventure set in China. The project is currently in early development at Sony Pictures Animation, with Tonya Kong (story editor, TV’s Daredevil; exec story editor, Arrow) attached to write, according to Deadline.
Dean makes the leap to feature directing from the story department at Animal Logic and Warner Bros., working under Phil Lord and Chris Miller as story artist on The LEGO Batman Movie, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, and on Tony Cervone’s upcoming Scoob.
Raised in Australia, Dean fist started storyboarding professionally as a teenager for a Sydney-based ad agency. While enrolled at the University of Sydney, she took night classes at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School, and later studied at CalArts before training in the Story Department at Pixar.
Her first festival-released animated short, Forget Me Not, was nominated for Australia’s AACTA Best Short Animation Award in 2012. The personal story of her family’s experience with Alzheimers was included in the National Film and Sound Archive’s Permanent Collection, Young Australian Directors’ Showcase. Dean also picked up several festival accolades last year for her live-action sci-fi short, Andromeda.