BBC Studios, the BBC’s main commercial arm, has announced the appointment of Cecilia Persson as Managing Director of Children’s. She will take up the role from January 1, 2022. Persson brings extensive creative and commercial knowledge to BBC Studios, including more than 15 years at Warner Media, where she most recently held the role of VP Programming & Content Strategy EMEA; Acquisition & Co-Production International.
Reporting to Ralph Lee, CEO BBC Studios Productions, Persson will lead the new genre as it transitions from the public service broadcaster to BBC Studios Productions, and will drive an ambitious global strategy, working in partnership with all areas of the business to ensure the most creative, efficient and effective approach to bring children’s content to our audiences around the world. The integration of BBC Children’s in-house production was announced in March and is scheduled for April 2022.
“I feel privileged to be taking on this new role at such an important time,” said Persson. “BBC Children’s content is globally renowned, and cherished by parents and kids alike. BBC Studios has bold ambitions to grow the value provided to younger audiences and I am looking forward to joining the brilliant teams on this journey.”
In April 2022, the Annecy Festival Residency, dedicated to animated feature films, will host three new project leaders who will each develop their graphic universes and profit from being in a working environment conducive to exploration (at the Papeteries – Image Factory), as well as having a designated mentor and assistance from the CITIA teams. The winning pitches were selected from 30 project submissions received this summer, 11 of which were led by women. (More info here.)
Deep Fake by Ismaël Joffroy Chandoutis (France) is the story of a fictitious virtual world, or metaverse. During the residency, Chandoutis will begin a series of tests to define the aesthetic outline of the film’s virtual universe – an online 3D environment where the film’s characters in the form of avatars interact as if in real life. The sets evolve according to the storytelling, navigating between two poles: one focused on hyperrealism, the other focused on a more abstract representation, which embodies the character’s inner reality. For these tests he will use 3D scanning tools, real-time video game engines, video texturing (CEF3D) and Gan algorithms.
Dino Doom on Desert Planet by Zsuzsanna Kreif and Balázs Turai (Hungary) is an unlikely love story between a humanoid slave, Azaz, and a young meteor, NIKU-278. Like any proper science fiction work, it is a re-interpretation and prognosis of the current global, historical environment. The ecological crisis, mass migration, terrorism, bi-polar political power-plays, free speech and propaganda, class struggles and lastly, the possibility of love and humanity in a time of crisis – all these phenomena serve as the basis of the story’s creation. During the residency, Kreif and Turai will start storyboarding the film while further developing the visual style. The film will have three different settings: space, the “Urth” and the dreamworld. Also, research and experiments with colors, outlines and textures will be explored.
Hanta by Emilio Ramos (Mexico) is the story about freedom seekers. It is also the story about those who are silenced, imprisoned and killed. The project has two general aims: the editorial and visual development. Both need to be advanced simultaneously. The scriptwriting needs to be grounded in the storyboard, to visually see the whole story in order to optimize it – to eliminate the inessential, and also accentuate and attenuate elements of the subplots. The main aim will be to produce a first animatic cut of the film, with as much input as possible from the visual development, sound and music references. The main aim for the visual development is to work on an overall visual concept of the film. To establish the guidelines and foundations of the film and each character, setting and prop, by creating collage mood boards
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that a trio of industry luminaries have accepted invitations to join the Science and Technology Council, bringing the 2021-2022 membership roster up to 25. (www.oscars.org/learn/science-technology)
David Pierce is an archivist and film historian. As assistant chief and chief operations officer of the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center at the Library of Congress, Pierce is responsible for the acquisition, conservation, documentation and digitization of the world’s largest public archives of motion pictures, television, radio and recorded sound. He is the author of The Survival of American Silent Feature Films: 1912–1929 and co-author, with James Layton, of The Dawn of Technicolor, 1915-1935 and King of Jazz: Paul Whiteman’s Technicolor Revue. He founded the Media History Digital Library, and his articles have appeared in American Film, Film Comment, American Cinematographer and more. Pierce has been an Academy Member-at-Large since 2019.
Andy Serkis is an award-winning actor known for his performance-capture roles in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, King Kong, the Planet of the Apes trilogy, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Last Jedi and more. His feature film directing credits include Breathe, Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle and Venom: Let There Be Carnage. Serkis is the co-founder, alongside producer Jonathan Cavendish, of The Imaginarium, a multi-platform production company linked to a performance-capture studio and focused on next-generation storytelling. Serkis will next appear on screen in The Batman, portraying Alfred Pennyworth. He has been a member of the Academy’s Actors Branch since 2012.
Jeffrey White is a feature and television producer specializing in independent film and visual effects. Currently an executive producer consulting with Drafthouse Films, he has worked in the feature production department of Warner Bros. and held roles as vice president of production and producer for Winkler/Daniel Productions at Paramount Pictures, as well as president and executive producer at Pellerin Multimedia, Inc. which produced King Kong: Peter Jackson’s Production Diaries for Universal Pictures. White has produced independent features including Manhood and Tale of the Mummy and was a visual effects producer for Sideways, Elizabethtown, Collateral Damage, Holes and more. He has been a member of the Academy’s Producers Branch since 1982.
Dallas-based creative studio ATKPLN (www.atkpln.com) has expanded its footprint to Chicago with the addition of Larissa Berringer as Executive Producer. This expansion is aligned with an evolution of ATKPLN’s look along with a hyper-focus on building a culture that embraces joy in the creative process. With the driving force of recently added Executive Creative Director Daniel DelPurgatorio, the move into Chicago comes along with an extreme home makeover for the company, complete with amped website and branding.
Berringer got her start as a production assistant on the hit Showtime series Weeds before relocating from Los Angeles to Chicago and transitioning into the VFX industry. As Executive Producer at Vitamin Pictures, she helped transform the company from a scrappy startup to a high-end creative boutique ripe for acquisition. She made the move to The Mill as Senior Producer before taking on the role as the U.S. Executive Producer of Design at Framestore, building the company’s design offering nationally.
International creative animation/design studio LOBO (lobo.cx) has added director of animation Isabela (“Isa”) Littger to its roster for global representation. Helping major brand clients craft narratives with a bespoke, haunting yet approachable art style, her work spans animation, illustration, character concepts and designs, and further cements LOBO’s international scale. Most recently, she directed the animated short for Children’s Hospital Foundation, Wonder Tower, in celebration of the new structure of the same name built in Richmond, Virginia. Littger worked closely with the foundation and agency Markham Yard to set the hospital stage as a safe and homey destination for children undergoing short- and long-term pediatric care.
Additional animations for major agencies and brands — such as the short film Bonfire for General Mills brand Yoki out of CP+B Brazil, which Littger art directed — have garnered top accolades including Clio Awards and New York Advertising Awards. Top clients include work for the United Nations, as well as CAIXA, games studio 111 Dots Studio and Garena, among others. Her graduation film from the internationally recognized animation school Gobelins l’école de l’image, Blind Eye, has garnered her and her co-directors 3.3 million views since its release, more than 50 festival nominations and several awards. Her CGI animated short film None of That, out of Ringing College of Art and Design, earned her and the team a student grant, a place as a BAFTA finalist, and garnered over 4 million views on Youtube.
“In my opinion, animation is the most extraordinary of arts — a magical way to materialize our thoughts, dreams and feelings. Due to this passion, I am currently working on an original series called Sybil and Her Past Lives, which got selected in the Annecy Mifa Pitches original series of 2020. This wouldn’t have been possible without LOBO’s help, as they played a huge role,” said Littger.
Award-winning VFX studio Milk (www.milk-vfx.com) has appointed Michelle Martin to the newly created role of Chief Business Development Officer, as Milk expands its creative and production teams. Martin will develop and drive the studio’s growing episodic and film production slate and oversee marketing, working closely with CEO Will Cohen, the Board and senior management and creative teams. Milk’s recent work includes Intergalactic (Sky), The Old Guard and BAFTA TV Craft Award-nominated Cursed (Netflix).
Martin brings more than 20 years of global VFX production & development expertise to the post — most recently with Framestore, where she was instrumental in growing the episodic slate to an award-winning level across London, New York and Montreal, overseeing projects including The Crown, Watchmen, His House, Lovecraft Country, The Boys and Black Mirror, as well as the global event series MARS.
Milk has recently added top new talent to its creative and production teams: Veteran VFX Supervisor Andy Morley (Avengers: Infinity War, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Batman Begins) joins, bringing high calibre experience from a career spanning Cinesite, Aardman Animations, Lucasfilm, MPC and most recently Outpost VFX. VFX Supervisor Oliver Cubbage (The Midnight Sky, The Witcher) has come on board to oversee the VFX for Three Pines (Amazon/Left Bank Pictures), joining from One of Us. And experienced VFX Producer Noga Alon-Stein (The Power, The Gentlemen, The French Dispatch) has joined Milk’s production team from Union VFX and Giacomo Sotgiu has come on board as VFX Producer from Freefolk.
Sharon Kroll Cohen, a media industry veteran and former Nickelodeon executive, has been named to lead marketing efforts for Sensical, a newly launched, age-appropriate streaming service for kids 2-10, it was announced today by Eric Berger, CEO, Common Sense Networks, to whom she will report. Based in New York, Cohen will oversee content marketing, social media marketing, public relations and events, consumer insights, and user acquisition and customer lifecycle marketing across earned and organic channels. She will also have oversight of editorial partnership programs, as well as affiliate marketing with Sensical’s device partners. She had been a senior advisor to Common Sense Networks prior to the stremer’s launch this summer.
Previously, Cohen was Executive Vice President, Nickelodeon Experiences, where she expanded the Nickelodeon brand and IP beyond their linear and digital platforms through real-word experiences. She oversaw strategic planning, development of location-based experiences spanning hotels, theme parks, live shows and theatricals, festivals, and brand activations and was instrumental in bringing to life some of Nick’s most prominent experiences, including: the sold-out JoJo Siwa D.R.E.A.M. tour in partnership with AEG; Nickelodeon SlimeFest, the brand’s U.S.-based multi-day music festival, the Tony Award-winning SpongeBob Musical and the globally sold-out PAW Patrol Live tours.
During her 20-year tenure with Viacom (now ViacomCBS) Cohen held several senior positions including Executive Vice President, Partner Marketing, where she created and built innovative collaborations with advertising and recreation and sports marketing partners across multiple Nickelodeon lines of business and screens as well as Senior Vice President, Integrated and Retail Marketing, where Cohen worked with consumer products, programming, digital, production and promotions teams to develop new revenue-generating integration opportunities across Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite, Nick Jr., Nicktoons, TeenNick and Kids’ Choice Awards. She also led their Integrated Solutions Group, crafting strategy and overseeing Nickelodeon’s annual Upfront presentations and outreach to the ad trade community Cohen holds a BS in Economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and lives in New York City with her husband and two college aged sons.
Amber Studio (amberstudio.com), the largest independent game development outfit based in Romania, announces the consolidation of the management team by appointing Roie Chizik as the Financial Officer at the group level. Chizik is an executive with over 20 years of experience, including in Fortune 500 companies, with extensive expertise in global strategy, financial planning and analysis, and operations. In the first six months of 2021, Amber registered a record turnover of $11.5 million, an increase of 45% compared to last year’s same period. For the full year 2021, Amber estimates a turnover of $30 million, a 51% increase compared to 2020.
Chizik will be responsible for leading all aspects of Amber’s financial and accounting functions, including implementing the IFRS, as well as providing strategic insights to support Amber’s significant growth and global expansion. He will also drive Amber’s financial strategy and verlook the capital raising and M&A activity. Chizik will be based in Amber’s office in San Francisco Bay Area, and will oversee the global Finance & Accounting team, which is currently spread over two continents and is expected to grow in the coming months as Amber accelerates its capital markets plans. He will report directly to Jaime Giné, CEO and collaborate closely with Amber’s Board, led by Mihai Pohontu, Executive President.
Prior to joining Amber, Chizik served as CFO at Brightwheel, a SaaS EdTech start-up where he oversaw all aspects of finance, accounting, analytics, SysOps, legal and real estate. Throughout his career, Roie has also held executive roles in Fortune 500 companies such as Walt Disney, Amazon, and Electronic Arts, as well as in top-tier VC-backed start-ups. He has experience scaling businesses and supporting global growth, providing financial insights, and building and leading high performing teams.