Month: August 2019

Why Everyone in the South West (And Beyond) Should Attend Cardiff Animation Nights

Why Everyone in the South West (And Beyond) Should Attend Cardiff Animation Nights

This month was my first time at Cardiff Animation Nights. Having just relocated to Cardiff from Los Angeles, I’ve always heard nothing but amazing things about the free bi-monthly event from my UK cohorts, so I couldn’t miss this opportunity to finally check it out.

The screenings the night I attended were held in the back of Kong’s Cardiff in the city centre. With the help of strategically placed signs at the bars initial entrance, I navigated through a maze of dimly lit back hallways and swinging doors, until I reached a massive hidden room full of buzzing animation enthusiasts of all ages. It was as if I left Cardiff behind and instantly stepped into the colourful world of animation like Charlie stepping through the doors of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory for the first time.

I didn’t have to worry about stumbling back to Kong’s for a drink or two during the night either, as the room had it’s own bar where I could grab a pint and speak with co-workers or other individuals I met who came to enjoy the shorts. Screens and rows of benches were set up on opposite ends of the room, to ensure no one missed a second of stellar animation. If you couldn’t manage to find a seat, like me, there was still plenty of room to either stand or sit on the floor.

At every event, Cardiff Animation Night strives to showcase independent animated shorts from all over the world. Their aim is to give locals the opportunity to see these unique films on the big screen, to immerse themselves in the films that are making their way through the global animation circuit, while also meeting other like-minded aficionados. At their most recent screening, they showed 11 shorts from the US, Ireland, Poland, France, Belgium, and Israel. 

One of my favourite things that happened during the event was when the second part of the screening was temporarily paused due to some minor flooding happening in Kong’s – we had been blessed by yet another welcoming summer rainstorm. Despite the fact they had brief technical difficulties as they waited for the staff to clean up the water, which extended the showcase by at least a half hour, the room lit up, everyone was still engaged and kept the atmosphere lively.  It was yet another opportunity to turn to the stranger next me and continue conversing about storytelling, animation, and honestly life in general.

If you love animation, work in the industry, or just want to experience something new and have a great night out, then Cardiff Animation Nights is definitely for you. As someone who’s new to the Cardiff animation community, I felt welcome and at home, like I finally found my tribe.

All thanks to the support of the lovely people at Cloth Cat Animation, and from audience donations, Cardiff Animation Nights is run by Lauren Orme, Christopher Wright, Dani Abram, Chris James, Laura Tofarides, Telor Gwyn, Josh Flynn and Adam Bailey; and various other volunteers and individuals from the local animation community and beyond.

by Nia Alavezos

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Achieve Program 2019 Wraps!

Achieve Program 2019 Wraps!

And it's a wrap! July 17th, was the final workshop for the Helen North Achieve Programme and the class of 2019 have spent many a Wednesday evening in a classroom over the last 3 months and have earned a well deserved holiday! 

The programme is for 24 women from both VFX and Animation at differing levels of experience in their careers. There was a broad range of job roles within the group - Producers, CG Supervisors, VFX Editors, Animators, Technical support and many others.

The modules include Understanding personality types, enhancing your career prospects, achieving a better work/life balance, and presentation skills.  And best of all, the group have built their own network across different companies that will stand them in good stead for years to come.

We will share the feedback once we have drawn up the report.

We always have 3 x the number of applicants as we can have on the course, so we are hoping to run some stand alone modules that will be drop in sessions that anyone can attend.  Planning has started and we hope to announce some for the autumn before too long ! Watch this space....

And lastly, a very big thank you to Jan Armstrong and Marianne O'Connor who run the programme for us.  It is a real pleasure to work with them and if anyone would like further information on the work they offer for companies, please do let us know.

Thank you also to Escape, who generously provide us with the space to run the courses, and to Tom Box and the  Animation Skills Council for recommending the course for funding from the Animation Skills levy with Screenskills.

Louise Hussey, VFX Chair AWUK

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AWUK at Annecy 2019

AWUK at Annecy 2019

Georgina Hurcombe gives the lowdown on Annecy International Animated Film Festival, which takes place in Annecy, France in June every year.

The festival has built a reputation as an excellent global meeting point for women in the animation industry, and this year was no exception. It was fantastic to see AWUK out in full force throughout the festival; along with watching a variety of fantastic animated content, my week was also filled with engaging discussions and positive meetings with an array of animated women, including our Co-Chair for Animation Beth Parker and longstanding member Natalie McKee (who I first met while taking part in the Helen North Achieve Programme back in 2018).

I was equally thrilled to be invited to speak on behalf of  AWUK at Women in Animations Breakfast Meeting. These meetings are becoming somewhat of a tradition at Annecy, and, considering I have only recently joined the board of AWUK, I was excited to contribute. The talk focused on the next steps for Animated Women UK, as well as reflecting on our accomplishments over the past year. There is so much for us to be proud of, from the Tips and Hits for Animated Women Panel in July last year, the re launch of the Helen North Achieve programme all the way through to the launch of AWUK’s Scottish branch back in May. Reflecting on past accomplishments is as important as setting objectives for the future, and the Breakfast Meeting talk gave us an excellent opportunity to  discuss all the exciting opportunities happening in the animation and VFX sector in the UK

The Breakfast Meeting talk was also about looking to the future: what’s next for women who work in animation and VFX globally?, what goals could we set for our organisations, and how were we going to achieve them? From an Animated Women UK prospective throughout the past year, panels have been a great way for us to spread awareness and tackle important gender-related industry issues. Producing more of these events and finding a way of making them bigger, better, and more informative than ever before is just one achievable goal we can set ourselves for the coming year.

The Breakfast Meeting talk also focused on a variety of other relevant topics. It was particularly interesting to share knowledge and advice with representatives of other worldwide women’s organisations, who reported on their own successes, making the Breakfast Meeting talk an excellent platform to celebrate the achievements of women in animation and VFX from all over the world.

However, successes were not the only item on the agenda; we also heard about the gender-related issues that continue to permeate our industry, both nationally and internationally. Unfortunately, sexual harassment in the workplace seems to remain as great an issue as ever; the issue seems to be particularly prevalent in France, where we heard how posters and leaflets detailing how to report such incidents are given out in large numbers to many studio employees . Of course, it’s fantastic to hear that efforts are being made to raise awareness around workplace sexual harassment, but it’s equally disappointing to hear that these appalling incidents are still taking place!

The issues surrounding the lack of senior female artists in the animation and VFX industries were also raised in the Breakfast Meeting. One especially salient point related to the expected and very regular long overtime: it’s difficult to rise through the ranks in VFX without a willingness to dedicate all of your time to the job, which has caused difficulties for women who want or with children to reach the pinnacle of their respective organisations without support from spouses or the organisations themselves.

Annecy Festival has a distinct atmosphere of diversity and inclusion. The opening day of this year’s festival was the third annual summit of the WIA (Women in Animation) and LFA (Les Femmes s’Animent). Throughout the day, the WIA and LFA hosted a variety of important, fascinating events. Sessions such as Creating an Environment of Belonging – a discussion about how men can assist the gender inclusion conversation and drive it forward – and Intergenerational Perspective on Belonging – a discussion which focused on the value of diversity among generations – are representative of the kind of open, inclusive quality that Annecy has become known for.

Other sessions included in this year’s summit focused on the future of women in animation. The New Face of Animation Leadership in Hollywood session acknowledged the fact that women in management and production roles are now leading a number of animation studios in Hollywood. This is, of course, fantastic news, and is indicative of the success that some women in the animation industry have begun to see over the last several years. We just hope that our fellow female artists in VFX and animation  will see such similar shifts in more senior roles within thier craft.

However, the New Face of Animation Leadership sessions also raised some important questions: will we now begin to see a shift in the culture of major Hollywood studios, and how will the women leading them impact their financial and creative success? Moreover, will we see increased changes in the promotion of diversity and inclusion in the animation industry? And, although not included in this particular session, these industrial shifts also generate questions about women in non-senior roles: will we see a change in the level of support for women in more creative and technical animation and VFX roles?

These are all questions that are certainly worth asking our at this juncture in our industry. Only time will tell, but together we believe we can make the future brighter for women in animation and VFX globally

Join Animated Women UK today

For more on Annecy click here

Written by Georgina Hurcombe

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Persistence of Vision: Women Reframing Animation Symposium

Persistence of Vision: Women Reframing Animation Symposium

Animation is accessible in ways other mediums are not; it breaks down cultural, social and technical boundaries and as such has a distinctive potential as a tool for education, activism and engagement.

On Friday 28th June, Goldsmiths University hosted a one-day symposium, exploring, discussing and celebrating the radical potential of women in animation.

Curated by Ceiren Bell, a freelance Animator and convenor of the Integrated Degree in Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, the symposium provided an inclusive platform for academics, practitioner and students to investigate what it is about animation that attracts and gives space to radical ideas and concepts for social change.

The event began with speaker Dr Caroline Ruddell presenting her keynote on ‘The Crafty Animator: Reveals, Conceals and the Hand of the Artist in Women’s Sand Animation.’ Ruddell gave insight into how gender is represented in craft, demonstrating the differences in how men and women are portrayed in ‘behind the scenes, making of’ films.

Sage Brice kicked off the first panel by discussing how vulnerability can also be considered as strength, with reference to her research ‘Becoming-Vulnerable: Drawing the Dissolution of Unitary Identity.’

Artist, Animator and Fat Activist Stacy Bias followed with, ‘Your Stories Are Moving: Animation and Affect in Addressing Stigma,’ with a screening of her excellent documentary animation ‘Flying While Fat.’

Terry Wragg, member of the Leeds Animation Workshop, spoke about the organisation’s work throughout the years. Established in 1978, the Leeds Animation Workshop continues to produce and distributes animated films addressing social and emotional issues, including the women’s movement.

The second panel, titled ‘Revolting Women,’ included brilliant talks by Writer and Visual Effects Artist Sunny Teich on ‘CGI Wizardry and Witchcraft’, Director and PhD student Sally Pearce on ‘Subversion in Women’s Animated Autobiography’, and Animation Director Kate Jessop on ‘Animation as Activism and Queer Representation.’

The final panel, a roundtable chaired by Artist Animator Jessica Ashman, discussed ‘Alternative Animation Pathways’. Animation Directors, Sophie Koko Gate, Esther Ajibade and Nush Naanayakkara spoke about their own career progressions, from triumphs to setbacks, and what advice they would give to their younger selves as newly graduated filmmakers.

For more information about the symposium, visit the closed Persistence of Vision facebook group and #povgold on Twitter

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