Colorado Agriculture Director Has Big Plans for Hemp

Marijuana might win Colorado points, but it’s hemp that will make the state a real winner in this game. As the country’s leader in acreage devoted to hemp farming over the past two years, Colorado has a real head start on the growing industry, and it’s Kate Greenberg’s job to keep us in the lead.

The new director of the Colorado Department of Agriculture is responsible for many things, including overseeing the state’s industrial hemp program, which churns out the plants responsible for all of those CBD products we love so much. But keeping things on course has it challenges, such as looming federal regulations and more domestic competition thanks to the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized industrial hemp farming at the federal level.

To learn more about the future of hemp in Colorado, we chatted with Greenberg about her goals for the plant.

Westword: How much did you know about hemp before taking the new job?

Kate Greenberg: I knew very little. I am, like a lot of us in the world of agriculture, on the learning curve. In the policy universe, I had interfaced with hemp through the Farm Bill. In my last life, with the National Young Farmers Coalition, we were working on ag policy though the Farm Bill, and definitely crossed paths with what was going on with hemp. So I was tracking it through the end of 2018, but in terms of what has taken off since the Farm Bill was signed, I think it’s a whole new universe for everyone. So we’re getting up to speed and ahead of the curve as fast as possible as we build a new industry.

How educated are Colorado farmers about science and state laws surrounding hemp?

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In my mind, that’s a bit of a complex question. You’ve got a lot of producers who are growing hemp and probably growing other things. But their livelihood is farming, and they make money off the land. Those farmers get how it works, how hemp works, how hemp is grown and the state regulations they need to follow.

I think what we’re seeing now is a lot folks who haven’t farmed before, who haven’t made a living off farming, coming into this boom and trying their hands at it. There’s so much excitement and momentum around it, I think a lot of folks are coming in without farming skills. So you get all ends of the spectrum in terms of farming expertise, both on how to grow the plant and how to navigate state and federal rules.

Growers have regulatory uncertainty because it’s a whole new industry, and one thing we’re hearing is that in order to grow the industry to the potential we and our governor would like to see it grow to, it would require more regulatory certainty. In that regard, I think it’s less about educating — even though we still care about educating — than creating that certainty about what they can do within that regulatory framework.

That’s an interesting observation about the inexperienced trying their hands at farming hemp because of how popular it is. Have you seen this boom mentality with any other crops?

I’ve seen it in various ways. I think hemp is unique, because folks are getting into it because they think they can make money. Most farmers don’t get into farming because they see dollar signs everywhere — this is not the business to get into if you think you’re going to get rich. The people I’ve seen and worked with for many years who have gotten into farming years ago got into because they love the land, they love to grow food, they love the place they live, and they love working for themselves. Those are the reasons most people get into ag.

This is a bit of a new territory, because there are dollar signs all over the hemp industry, so you get folks who aren’t in it necessarily for the passion of farming, but for the opportunity to make money.

How does Colorado’s hemp industry compare to that of other states around the country?

Basically, we kick butt. We had one of the first hemp programs in the country, and there’s still only a few across the country. Folks are racing post-2018 Farm Bill to set something up, but we are five years ahead of the curve, having our own hemp program. We’ve got experience with certified hemp seeds, managing registrations and inspections, working with growers and universities, and dealing with the federal government before it was legal.
We’ve got pretty incredible experience in Colorado; our state is set up for it, and our governor is all about hemp. It’s a fantastic time to be doing this work in Colorado, so I think by all accounts, we are ahead of the game. Our intent is to stay there.

I’m glad you brought up certified seeds. How important is a state-certified seed for hemp farmers, whose plants must stay below 0.3 percent THC?

That gets us into “hot hemp” territory, right? The whole premise of this hemp industry is that we’re producing end products that have 0.3 percent THC or less. In order to get there, you need some certainty about the crops that you’re growing. If farmers were just putting in whichever seeds into the ground and grew plants that were above that 0.3 level, there’s no way to have certainty about your crop. Having a certified seed just gives you much greater certainty in that what you plant is something that you’ll actually be able to harvest.

Other aspects of ag have similar things: When you put a carrot seed in the ground, you want to know that you’re getting a sweet carrot in the end. That’s not dissimilar from hemp.

How big of a problem is hot hemp (with THC levels over 0.3 percent) in Colorado?

That’s hard to say. It’s an issue we’re aware of, and one that growers certainly have encountered. It’s something we’re working to solve through our CHAMP [Colorado Hemp Advancement and Management Plan] initiative, which essentially came out of having conversations like this across state agencies, with industries, institutions of higher education and other entities. We ask questions about hot hemp and other options for growers. Before CHAMP, we didn’t have an avenue to figure these things out, so we took leadership in creating a structure that will allow regulatory agencies, industries, Native tribes, learning institutions and farmers to sit around a table and actually develop answers. There are still so many questions about the X, Y and Z of hemp — like interstate transport [and] how the Department of Public Safety can determine what is hemp and what is not. All of those questions finally have a table to sit at.

States like Idaho and South Dakota have banned hemp farming despite federal legalization, citing worries over bad actors who would grow THC-rich marijuana instead of hemp. How big of a concern are bad actors for the CDA, and how do you address it?

That’s why we partnered with the Department of Public Safety. With the CHAMP plan, we’ve coordinated with about ten other state agencies across Colorado, like DPS and the Office of Economic Development and International Trade — so we have advancement and management. DPS is on board to dig into the unlawful questions, because that’s outside of our jurisdiction. So that’s why we work closely with law enforcement to make sure they have the tools they need to do their jobs well.

Hot hemp is an issue in Colorado. We’re not exempt from what other states are facing in terms of black market and illegal grows, but that’s something we lean on our law enforcement partners to address while providing as much help as we can.

CDA director Kate GreenbergEXPAND

CDA director Kate Greenberg

Courtesy of the Department of Agriculture

With more states getting ready to allow hemp and CBD companies within their borders, how does Colorado maintain the leadership it’s had for the past five years?

I think the CHAMP initiative is a big way toward that. It’s a huge, coordinated effort that includes anyone who has a stake in the game across Colorado, but it’s also going to be open-sourced. We’ve been talking to other states that don’t have programs, and are offering our expertise. We don’t see this as something we need to hold on to and keep away from everyone. We’ve got a national and international industry with this now, and we can’t keep it it within closed borders in Colorado. This is going to have to include interstate commerce, and we really see our creativity and desire to bring in thought leaders as ways to continue our leadership.

One way to establish our leadership is getting our state plan into the USDA. We’re in close communication with the USDA to make sure they see us as a partner in this, and that we are a resource. Submitting our state plan is big here, just to make sure our state’s hemp program is still a leader. Another one is the larger CHAMP report, which will show what it takes to grow our hemp industry beyond the Farm Bill. This is a big-vision process. We just closed our stakeholder applications for eight CHAMP working groups, and I think we got about 160 applications.

Local governments are also big partners for us. Towns and counties have a lot of questions about what they can do at the local level. That collaborative nature, creativity, big-thinking and inclusiveness, I think that’s what will set up Colorado to maintain leadership in this realm.

How will the USDA’s new oversight affect hemp farming in Colorado?

There are very specific bullet points that the Farm Bill lays out for states that want to run their own hemp programs. If a state doesn’t want to run its own program, the USDA will do it for you, but that’s not what we’re going to do in Colorado. We’re going to maintain our leadership and direction over hemp. So we just need to hit those bullet points — and we’ve already hit a lot of them — about where we’ve been and where we want to go.

The USDA is doing its own rulemaking around this, as well, so we want to make sure that whatever comes out of Washington, D.C., aligns with what we’ve got going on here in Colorado and enables us to advance our hemp industry as far as possible.

Where does CBD fall into all of this? Does the CDA have any say over how CBD products are regulated?

We don’t regulate or oversee anything having to do with processing, sales or products with CBD. Our jurisdiction pretty much ends with the plant harvest, and then we do THC testing on the hemp. Beyond that, it goes to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. That’s another CHAMP partner that helps us not just look at hemp cultivation, but at all end uses of the plant.

How does Colorado’s climate stack up against other parts of the country for hemp growing?

Man, from what I can tell, this place is great for it. We’ve got a lot of indoor grows, as well, but we’ve also got a lot of hail. Everyone’s got their natural disaster of choice, though. But, yeah, our climate and soil are great.
One thing I’d like to also mention is sustainability. It’s a big value for our department, and we’re really thinking about how hemp can help drive sustainability, and really reach those markets that care about sustainability.
Looking at water use — because we’re an arid state — there’s a lot of excitement around hemp for not necessarily requiring a lot of water. I think we need to make sure as we’re building out our industry that we’re taking care of our water and soil, those farming aspects, to make sure we’re still giving back.

Toke of the Town

A Few Minutes with Annecy Festival Director Marcel Jean

Who is better fit to tell us about the global animation scene than Marcel Jean, the brilliant director of the Annecy International Animated Film Festival, who has to watch more animated shorts in a year than seems humanly possible? Jean was kind enough to answer a few of our burning questions just before the madness of the festival completely sweeps him away. Here is what he had to say:

Animag: What do you find especially exciting about this year’s programs and events?

Marcel Jean: It is a remarkable year for animation features, with an incredibly strong lineup of Japanese films. I am particularly proud of the Contrechamp (reverse shot) section, which offers a new dimension to the selection of feature films.

How do you keep a fresh attitude about all the animated projects you screen?
Every year brings a new share of excitement. Animation is constantly evolving, both in terms of technology and narrative issues. In this context, it is easy to keep a fresh look: we unceasingly discover new authors, new cinematographies, new aesthetics … Besides, I do not want the festival to be fixed in an immutable form. We are making a lot of changes in the sections to respond to the evolution of production. It is a great pleasure to create the Perspectives section, or the Contrechamp section.

What is your personal favorite part of the event?
The most beautiful part of the Annecy festival is on the meeting side: a lot of creators, animators, craftsmen and producers come to meet our audience. This is where the unique side of the festival lies. Because movies, you can always see them later. Masterclasses, making of, work in progress and conferences are unique.

Do you have a fun or humorous anecdote to share with us about a recent Annecy festival?

In 2017, the directors of Madame Tutli-Putli, Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski, gave a masterclass. They had the idea to invite a clown/magician to entertain the audience before their conference. The magician was among the spectators and offered card tricks. The famous Dutch filmmaker Paul Driessen was in the room, and he was convinced that Maciek was the magician. He told his neighbor, who did the same thing with his neighbor. In a few minutes half of the spectators were convinced that Maciek was in disguise. Then, when Mackiek actually appeared on stage, he had no idea the kind of surprise he was creating.

What can you tell us about the Japan focus this year?

It’s a very big year for Japanese production. Perhaps the biggest year for 10 years, if we consider the quantity and quality of feature films that have been submitted to us. We will also pay homage to a great unknown figure of Japanese animation: Yoïshi Kotabe, who was a major collaborator of Isao Takahata. In addition, we wish to present some rising figures of Japanese animation, such as Atsushi Wada and Ryo Orikasa.

People always want to know about trends and new ideas in the animation sector. What is your take on what’s happening around the world?
Animation is in a paradoxical situation. On the one hand, there are more and more animated films. But on the other hand, there is always a problem in the way the public perceives animation. More and more films are produced for an adult audience and the general public continues to see animation as a product aimed at children, or at best the family. Therefore, the distributors of these films do everything possible to make people forget that these films are animated films. In parallel, animation has become a very important element of contemporary art (especially in China) and documentary filmmaking.

What is the most difficult aspect of organizing the festival?

Selecting the films that will take part in the competition is both the most exciting aspect and the most difficult aspect. There are so many good movies that we have to leave out. It is a great honor and a great responsibility to sign the selection. People often want to know why their film was not selected. It is difficult, because in many cases there is no clear reason. There was no room to show all the films that would have deserved to be there and we had to make choices based on all kinds of reasons — the provenance of the films, the technique used, our willingness to make room for new authors, the balance between men and women, the topics discussed, etc.

What is the animated work that changed your life and why?

Pierre Hébert’s short film Memories of War, produced in 1982 at the National Film Board of Canada, changed my life. At the time, I was a young film critic and this film allowed me to understand that we could approach all topics in animation in a very elaborate dramaturgical framework. Then I saw Dimensions of Dialogue by Czech filmmaker Jan Svankmajer and Breakfast on the Grass by Estonian animator Priit Pärn. These films opened my eyes to the possibilities of animation.

Which new animated movie or short are you really looking forward to in 2019?

I have already seen all the selection of Annecy, so I will speak rather of a film which is not yet finished and which will not be in Annecy: Physics of Sadness by Theodore Ushev, the director of [Oscar nominated short] Blind Vaysha. Ushev is a great artist and he may be making his most ambitious film. He uses for the first time the ancient technique of encaustic painting, which consists of using wax as a binder.

What role do you think Annecy has played in redefining the role of animation in the movie and TV sector over the years?

Annecy offers a kind of Polaroid to take into account the state of animation. This is the moment in the year where we can take stock: What are the trends, the themes that emerge? When a festival-goer returns from Annecy, he or she is full of images and ideas.

Learn more at



Animation Magazine

AHA News: Director John Singleton’s Fatal Stroke Spotlights Black Americans’ Hypertension Risk

WEDNESDAY, May 1, 2019 (American Heart Association News) — Filmmaker John Singleton was hailed for his ability to portray black Americans’ lives on screen. His death drew attention to one of the biggest threats posed to those lives.

Singleton, who was nominated for an Oscar for directing “Boyz N the Hood,” suffered a stroke April 17 and died Monday after being taken off life support. He was 51. In a statement, his family said he had “quietly struggled with hypertension.”

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is often called the “silent killer” because it has no obvious symptoms. It’s the top risk factor for stroke — the No. 5 cause of death in the U.S. and an especially dangerous problem for black people.

Black men are twice as likely to have a stroke as their white adult counterparts and are nearly 60 percent more likely to die from a stroke than their white peers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Beyond being a leading cause of death, stroke is a leading cause of adult disability.

“And the part that is not mentioned as much is that it’s a leading cause of cognitive dysfunction as well. And depression,” said Dr. Bruce Ovbiagele, professor of neurology and associate dean at the University of California, San Francisco.

Although stroke mortality has fallen by 80 percent over the past 60 years, there has been no significant decrease in the disparity between white and black people.

High blood pressure might help explain some of that gap. The prevalence of high blood pressure among African Americans is among the highest in the world. More than half of black adults in the U.S. have high blood pressure.

Other risk factors for stroke include diabetes and obesity, which affect African Americans at higher rates, as well as smoking, which researchers say doubles the risk of stroke in African Americans. Sickle cell anemia is also a factor; it’s the most common genetic disorder among African Americans.

A 2017 report in the journal Circulation spelled out many additional possible influences, ranging from cultural attitudes toward exercise; the unhealthy parts of the traditional Southern diet, which is high in added fats, sugars and sodium; and the health issues that come from stress and perceived discrimination.

Black Americans are also more likely to live in poverty, statistics show. And that’s another factor, said Dr. Clyde Yancy, a professor of medicine and chief of cardiology at Northwestern University.

“In the diet that people eat, which is all they can afford — one especially represented by fast foods and high sodium intake — the risk of high blood pressure is exaggerated and the onset is much earlier in life,” Yancy said.

But scientists do not fully understand the risk gap, Ovbiagele said. Up to 30 percent of the reasons behind the increased risk for black Americans is a mystery, he estimated.

“Is it genetic? Is it an interaction between the genes and the environment?” Some research suggests lingering psychosocial effects from slavery could be factors, he said.

“There’s perceived discrimination, there’s the salt hypothesis, there’s genetics, there’s so many things,” he said, adding that many of them have not been explored thoroughly.

But that should not deter people from focusing on the many things they can control, Ovbiagele said.

“We know that stroke is eminently preventable,” he said. “So while we don’t have the entire truth, we have some of the truth, and we know that truth can be addressed.”

Yancy echoed that point emphatically.

“I want this message to be explicitly clear: Check your blood pressure. That’s a hard stop. That’s the takeaway; and especially if you’re an African American man, check it today.”

It’s urgent because high blood pressure is so pervasive and so deadly, Yancy said.

“Don’t think that these events aren’t happening every day, in every city and every state across the country,” he said. “Except it’s happening quietly — with families losing fathers and grandfathers and uncles and brothers and husbands on a daily basis.”

Yancy knows this all too well.

“I lost all nine of my uncles, aunts and father to heart disease,” he said. “And not a single one had any condition other than high blood pressure to drive their early demise.

“It’s just unacceptable. We can live life a different way.”

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: May 2019 – Daily MedNews

Nader Alikhani Named Creative Development Director of Atomhawk

Atomhawk, a world-leading digital art and design company for the games and entertainment industries, announced the appointment of Nader Alikhani as Creative Development Director. Bringing a great breadth of games industry experience as an artist, creative director and studio head over the past 14 years, Alikhani will lead new business and creative development opportunities with current and prospective clients worldwide from Atomhawk’s Vancouver studio.

“We’re delighted to welcome Nader on board to help us grow our international client base,” said Tim Wilson, Managing Director of Atomhawk. “It’s really valuable to have someone in the role who really understands our business, our creative processes and our clients and who is able to identify their visual needs and work with our teams in the U.K. and Canada to deliver tailored creative solutions.”

Alikhani said, “I’ve had a great few months really getting to know the Atomhawk teams in Gateshead and Vancouver and gaining a really in-depth knowledge of all aspects of the business. I’ve always been passionate about art and design in games and am relishing the opportunity to connect with people in the games industry and beyond to discuss new creative possibilities and to work with the Atomhawk art, design and production teams to help make them a reality.”

Alikhani will be representing Atomhawk at GDC in San Francisco (March 18-22) and other industry events across North America in the coming months.

The company is continuing to expand its teams in both Gateshead, U.K. and Vancouver, Canada. More information about career opportunities available at

Atomhawk Showreel 2018 from Atomhawk Design on Vimeo.

Animation Magazine

Jason Chappelle Named Exec Creative Director of Aspect

Aspect, a multi-award winning creative advertising agency that provides strategic marketing solutions across all entertainment platforms, has named Jason Chappelle as its new Executive Creative Director. The announcement was made by Lisa Feldman and Nati Braunstein, Co-Presidents and Creative Directors, Aspect.

Prior to joining Aspect, Chappelle had been a Senior Vice President and Creative Director at MOCEAN, where his most recent feature film campaigns included those for The LEGO Movie 2 and Alita: Battle Angel. In his new role with Aspect, he will be responsible for helping to secure new clients and projects; managing the high-level creative for those projects; and working closely with Feldman and Braunstein to chart the course for the agency’s future.

“We’re very excited to announce that Jason Chappelle has joined Aspect as our new Executive Creative Director,” Feldman and Braunstein said. “He has years of experience working with some of the top creative agencies in Hollywood, and has contributed to such recent, high profile film campaigns as those for Bohemian Rhapsody, Deadpool 2 and Game Night. Most importantly, he adds another strong creative voice to Aspect, and will also help us expand our services to a broader client base. We’re super stoked about him joining our team – and we’re delighted he is no longer one of our toughest competitors!”

Chappelle added, “I’ve long been a fan of Aspect’s work, so when Nati and Lisa offered me the chance to join them and help build their future, it was something I couldn’t pass up. I’ve always retained a tremendous respect for Aspect’s creativity. As I now transition from ‘competitor’ to ‘collaborator,’ I couldn’t be more excited to start this new chapter of my career, working in-house with Nati, Lisa, and the entire Aspect team.”

Before joining MOCEAN, Chappelle was at Buddha Jones for over seven years, working first as a writer/producer, and eventually being promoted to Senior Producer. At Buddha, he honed his skills at both creative producing and client management. There, he worked on dozens of movie campaigns, including Spy, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, How to Train Your Dragon 2, The Heat, Chronicle and Inglourious Basterds.

Chappelle began his entertainment industry career at MTV Networks in New York. After moving to Los Angeles, he secured a writer/producer job at Studio City, where he learned the art of short-form storytelling. He worked there for over four years, ultimately becoming Head Writer — but his passion for movie trailers next led him to The Cimarron Group. A two-year stint there as a writer/producer, followed by two years working as a freelancer, led him to Buddha Jones. The winner of multiple Golden Trailer and CLIO Entertainment Awards, Chappelle holds a BA Degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and an MBA Degree in Entrepreneurship from Babson College.

Animation Magazine

Legend 3D Makes Key Hires: Post Director Meetal Gokul, VFX Supe Jay Mehta

Legend 3D welcomes two multiple award-winning creatives to key positions in its global organization, with the addition of Meetal Gokul as Director of Post Production and Senior Colorist in its Hollywood facility, and Jay Mehta as VFX Supervisor at its Pune, India studio. That announcement was made by CEO Aidan Foley. Gokul will work closely with Legend’s Office of Operations heads Jeff Shapiro (Production) and Jeremy Nicolaides (Creative). Mehta will report in to Los Angeles-based Creative Director Simon Kern and its executive management team.

“Meetal and Jay add so much value to the Legend organization, and, more importantly, to our clients,” said Foley. “Their experience in all facets of visual effects and post production will enable an enhanced menu of services for the studios and brands with whom we have the privilege of working. As a result, Legend will now offer both Color Grading and Digital Intermediates (DI) in addition to our expanding menu of VFX and 3D conversion work.”

An internationally renowned colorist and stereographer, Meetal Gokul bring an enormous wealth of knowledge and experience to the Legend team from his work in London, Mumbai, Cardiff, Wellington, Toronto and Los Angeles at such studio facilities as Park Road Post Production, Futureworks, Dragon DI, Stereo D/Deluxe and Southbay Motion Picture Technologies, and software/hardware creators Quantel. He’s worked with Academy Award-winning director Peter Jackson on his Hobbit trilogy, serving as Head of Stereography and a key member of the team that won the prestigious Advanced Imaging Society Award for creating the world’s first 4K, HFR 3D workflow. He also worked closely with Jackson and Steven Spielberg on The Adventures of Tintin 3D, as well as with Andrew Adamson and James Cameron on Cirque du Soleil, World Away 3D.

In addition to Hollywood blockbusters, Gokul has teamed with several international directors including Goldie Behl on Drona, India’s first 4K VFX action film; with Andrew Jones on his BAFTA Award-winning independent film The Feral Generation; and Taika Waititi on Boy and What We Do in the Shadows. Most recently, Gokul teamed up with Andrew Young, a Giant Screen IMAX filmmaker, to create visually stunning color for the multi award-winning (including Best Cinematography and VFX) film Backyard Wilderness.

Jay Mehta has served as a member of VFX teams which have earned an Academy Award (Life of Pi) and an Academy Award nomination (Snow White and the Huntsman) in the same year (2013); as well as a BAFTA Award and an Academy Award (The Golden Compass) in the same year (2008). He joins Legend following a five-year tenure at Base FX in Beijing, China, most recently as VFX Supervisor on such theatrical films as Aquaman, The Great Wall and Equals, the television series Agent Carter (nominated for a Visual Effects Society Award for Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode) and Black Sails, and the Stereo 4K theme park ride Streets of Fury.

Previously, Mehta spent over seven years at the groundbreaking VFX shop Rhythm & Hues, Mumbai, starting as a paint and roto artist, later moving to compositing and other leadership roles. There he amassed credits working on such films as Life of Pi, Snow White and the Huntsman, The Golden Compass, Evan Almighty, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, Land of the Lost, The Incredible Hulk, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, Mr. Popper’s Penguins and Big Miracle. In addition to managing the creative aspects, Mehta has demonstrated equal strength in pre-production management, crew planning, bidding on prospective projects, and working directly with the directors and client-side VFX supervisor.

Animation Magazine

‘Coco,’ ‘Toy Story 3’ Director Lee Unkrich Trading Pixar for Personal Life

After a quarter century serving as part of the creative core of Pixar Animation Studios, director Lee Unkrich has announced he is leaving the company and stepping away from the Hollywood animation game. The helmer of numerous globally beloved and critically acclaimed films — including animated feature Oscar winners Coco and Toy Story 3 — confirmed his decision on Twitter Friday:

In a statement, Unkrich said, “I’m not leaving to make films at another studio; instead, I look forward to spending much-needed time with my family and pursuing interests that have long been back-burnered.”

Pete Docter, Chief Creative Officer of Pixar, lauded Unkrich’s creative contributions to the studio over the years:

“Lee arrived at Pixar as we were crafting Toy Story, and he’s had a profound effect on all Pixar films since. He literally taught us rookie filmmakers about staging, composition, and cutting. His artistry and expert craftsmanship as an editor and co-director became a major reason for the high quality of our filmmaking, and as Lee went on to direct, his ability to find the deep humor and emotion enabled him to create some of the strongest films we’ve made. He will be sorely missed — but we are enormously grateful for his tireless dedication to quality, and his ability to touch the hearts of audiences around the world.”

Unkrich began his Pixar career as a film editor on the first Toy Story. His credits with the studio also include the smash hit features Toy Story 2 (co-director & editor), Monsters, Inc. (co-director & additional editor), Finding Nemo (co-director & supervising film editor), Toy Story 3 (director & story writer), Coco (director & story writer), and the Coco short Dante’s Lunch (director). He was also executive producer on Monsters University and The Good Dinosaur, and conceived the original story for this year’s Toy Story 4 (June 21), directed by Josh Cooley.

In addition to the two Best Animated Feature Film Oscars and an adapted screenplay Oscar nomination for Toy Story 3, Unkrich has racked up two animated feature BAFTA Awards (Coco & TS3) plus one Children’s BAFTA nomination (Finding Nemo); four feature production Annie Awards, a VES Award and numerous other festival and critical honors.

[Source: Deadline]

Animation Magazine

News Bytes: Director in Talks for ‘Cruella’, MIFA Pitches Open, AFI Top 10 Films of 2018 & More

‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ Fans Petition NFL to Play Beloved Song at Super Bowl
Bikini Bottom boosters have started a petition on to honor the recent pasing of series creator Stephen Hillenburg with a halftime performance of “Sweet Victory” during the February football event. The number of signatures has surpassed 750,000. Watch the musical clip here.

Mr. Bean Launches Christmas Merchandise
Renowned British comedy character Mr. Bean, created by Rowan Atkinson, is featuring in festive goodies released via YouTube and Teespring’s “merch shelf” feature. The collection includes mugs, hoodies, t-shirts, cushions and phone cases featuring animated and live-action series motifs. Mr. Bean’s YT channel recently topped 10 million subscribers, earning a Diamond Play Button.

CALL FOR ENTRIES: #TvoriChristmasTime
Tvori animation software users are invited to create videos that capture the Christmas spirit and post them to social media channels by Sunday, December 16 with the official hashtag. The contest is being judges by Tipatat Chennavasin (General Partner, The Venture Reality Fund), Jamie Feltham (author at UploadVR), Mike Morris (storyboard artist & revisionist, DuckTales), Jean Thoren (Publisher/President, Animation Magazine), Estella Tse (VR artist & designer, Artist in Residence with Google and Adobe).

Project Registration for the event, taking place as part of the Annecey Int’l Animation Film Festival & MIFA market next June, are now open to short film, feature film, TV series/TV special, and interactive/transmedia concepts seeking support. Las year, 37 pitches were selected out of 468 entries. Deadline: February 4, 2019.

AFI Top 10 Lifts Oscar Prospects for ‘A Star Is Born,’ ‘Mary Poppins Returns,’ ‘Black Panther’
The films’ list also includes BlacKkKlansman, Eighth Grade, If Beale Street Could Talk, The Favourite, First Reformed, Green Book and A Quiet Place. The top TV shows are The Americans, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, Atlanta, Barry, Better Call Saul, The Kominsky Method, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Pose, Succession and This Is Us. A special award was given to Roma.

Craig Gillespie in Talks to Direct Emma Stone in ‘Cruella’
Disney’s live-action script-flip of 101 Dalmatians may have the I, Tonya and Lars and the Real Girl helmer to guide it, according to Deadline. Alex Timbers, co-creator of Mozart in the Jungle, was originally attached. Cruella has a script by Jez Butterworth (Spectre, Edge of Tomorrow).



Mr. Bean

Mr. Bean

Mary Poppins Returns

Mary Poppins Returns

Animation Magazine

Ex-CDC Director Frieden Arrested on Sex Charges

Aug. 24, 2018 — Former CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, was arrested Friday in New York City on sex abuse charges.

Multiple media outlets reported that Frieden faces charges of forcible touching, sex abuse, and harassment.

Frieden was CDC director from 2009 to 2017.

The charges stem from a dinner party in October 2017 at Frieden’s Brooklyn apartment, law enforcement authorities told CNN. As people were leaving, Frieden allegedly grabbed the buttocks of a 55-year-old woman without her consent.

The sources said Frieden and the woman had known each other for several years. She reportedly filed the complaint in July.

Frieden, 57, turned himself in and, according to Politico, appeared briefly in a Brooklyn courtroom this afternoon and was released with no bail. Judge Michael Yavinsky ordered Frieden not to communicate with his accuser and told him to surrender his passport. His next court appearance is Oct. 11.

Frieden stepped down from the CDC at the beginning of the Trump presidency. Before leading the CDC, Frieden served as the New York City health commissioner from 2002 to 2009.

He now is the president and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, a global health nonprofit.

Jose Castro, president and CEO of Vital Strategies, the parent nonprofit of Resolve to Save Lives, told CNN that Frieden told him in April “that a non-work-related friend of his and his family of more than 30 years accused him of inappropriate physical contact.”

Castro said, “I have known and worked closely with Dr. Frieden for nearly 30 years and have seen firsthand that he has the highest ethical standards both personally and professionally.”

He added, “Vital Strategies is committed to a workplace that is free of sexual harassment. As such, even though she is not an employee, earlier this month we conducted a thorough investigation by an external expert, which included an in-depth interview with every staff member on the Resolve to Save Lives team to determine whether there are any concerns about inappropriate behavior. This assessment determined there have been no incidents of workplace harassment. Vital Strategies greatly values the work Dr. Frieden does to advance public health and he has my full confidence.”

Medscape Medical News

© 2018 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

WebMD Health

Reel FX Taps ‘Shrek the Third’ Director Chris Miller to Helm ‘Wish’

Reel FX Animation Studios announced that Oscar-nominated director Chris Miller (Best Animated Feature nominee Puss N’ Boots, Shrek the Third) to take the helm of its upcoming original feature currently dubbed “Untitled Wish Project.” The longtime DreamWorks Animation filmmaker’s two Shrek franchise flicks generated a combined box office gross of nearly $ 1.4 million for the studio.

“Chris is an incredibly creative and talented filmmaker and we feel honored to be working with him,” said Jared Mass, who heads up Reel FX’s Originals Unit. “He brings a vision to the film that is sure to resonate with audiences all over the world.”

Story details for “Wish” are under wraps, but the film will be set in the both the real world and a realm of mythical creatures, where human wishes are heard and dealt with.

“We are happy to welcome Chris to the family,” said Reel FX Chairman and CEO Steve O’Brien. “We continue to develop original concepts such as ‘Wish’ that inspire great filmmakers like Chris to venture into new and exciting territory.”

Reel FX Animation Studios produces animation for every major studio as well as original content, including the award-winning feature Book of Life directed by Jorge R. Gutiérrez and produced with Guillermo Del Toro for Twentieth Century Fox. Reel FX is currently in production on its next original feature with Paramount Animation and Walden Media based on the kids’ graphic novel Monster on the Hill, which is set to be released in 2020.

Miller is represented by Verve and Weintraub Tobin.

Animation Magazine

MPP has a new executive director!

We’re pleased to announce that Steve Hawkins has been named the new executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. Steve brings three decades of experience fighting for criminal justice reform, having previously served in leadership roles at the NAACP, Amnesty International USA, and the Coalition for Public Safety.

The entire MPP staff is thrilled to welcome Steve to our organization.

Steve began his career as an attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund challenging racial disparities in the criminal justice system. He later served as executive vice president of the NAACP, spearheading its efforts to end the police practice of “stop and frisk” in New York City and successfully encouraging the NAACP board of directors to adopt a policy in support of marijuana decriminalization. Steve also previously served as executive director of Amnesty International USA, as a program executive for the Atlantic Philanthropies, and as a senior program manager at the JEHT Foundation. You can read a more detailed biography here.

The marijuana reform movement has made incredible gains in the past several years but there’s still a great deal of work ahead. With Steve leading our experienced and talented team of reformers, and with your support, MPP will continue to enact medical marijuana and marijuana legalization laws that serve the interests of the American people.

The post MPP has a new executive director! appeared first on MPP Blog.

MPP Blog

James Gunn Axed as ‘Guardians’ Director Over Offensive Tweets

James Gunn

James Gunn

James Gunn has been fired from his directing gig on Disney/Marvel’s hit Guardians of the Galaxy film series following the exposure of social media posts from before his association with the franchise which make light of topics such sexual assault, pedophilia, the Holocaust, AIDS and the 9/11 attacks.

According to Deadline (CW: The linked article contains transcripts of Tweets which may be upsetting to readers), the posts were dredged up by conservative outlets and provided to Fox News. The motivation is reportedly Gunn’s criticism of President Trump and recent verbal swings at pundit Ben Shapiro.

Disney made the firing decision quickly. In a statement released Friday, Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn said: “The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James’ Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio’s values, and we have severed our business relationship with him.”

Before his Twitter feed was taken down, Fox captured the following July 20 posts by Gunn (@JamesGunn):

1. Many people who have followed my career know when I started, I viewed myself as a provocateur, making movies and telling jokes that were outrageous and taboo. As I have discussed publicly many times, as I’ve developed as a person, so has my work and my humor.

2. It’s not to say I’m better, but I am very, very different than I was a few years ago; today I try to root my work in love and connection and less in anger. My days saying something just because it’s shocking and trying to get a reaction are over.

4. For the record, when I made these shocking jokes, I wasn’t living them out. I know this is a weird statement to make, and seems obvious, but, still, here I am, saying it.

5. Anyway, that’s the completely honest truth: I used to make a lot of offensive jokes. I don’t anymore. I don’t blame my past self for this, but I like myself more and feel like a more full human being and creator today. Love you to you all.

The first Guardians of the Galaxy movie was a surprise hit, putting the lesser-known comics characters in a humorous, action-packed and colorful sci-fi superhero blockbuster; the 2014 release earned a 91% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and earned a global box office take of $ 773.3 million ($ 333M domestically). The highly anticipated second outing in 2017 is ranked 83% Fresh and took in $ 863.7M worldwide ($ 389.8M domestic). Gunn had announced in April 2017 that we was returning to write and direct Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3; the third film does not have a release date slated.

[Source: Deadline]

James Gunn

James Gunn

Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy

Animation Magazine

Croatian Artist, Animator & Director Zlatko Bourek Dies Age 89

Zlatko Bourek

Zlatko Bourek

Zlatko Bourek, animation and live-action filmmaker and sculptor, died Friday, May 11 at age 89. Organizers of Croatian festival Animafest Zagreb, which marked Bourek’s long career with a retrospective program in 2015, shared the news this week.

Born September 4, 1929, in Slavonska Požega, Bourek graduated in sculpture and painting from the Academy of Applied Arts in Zagreb,  in the program co-founded and headed by celebrated figure sculptor Kosta Angeli Radovani. He began his career in animation as a background artist and production designer on films by Dušan Vukoti? and Vatroslav Mimica: Cowboy Jimmy, Happy End, The Inspector Returned Home, At the Photographer’s, as well as the Professor Balthazar series.

As one of the most esteemed representatives of the Zagreb School of Animated Films studio, he began writing his own screenplays in 1960. His films hold a secure place in the annals of Croatian and global animation history: The Blacksmith’s Apprentice, Far Away I Saw Mist and Mud – an adaptation of The Ballads of Petrica Kerempuh by Miroslav Krleža, Captain Arbanas Marko, Schooling, Dinner, puppet film The Married Life of Little Red Riding Hood (Farce), and others. His works Dancing Songs (1966) and The Cat (1971) are widely regarded as masterpieces.

Bourek remained professionally active throughout his life; in 2014, he collaborated with Pavao Štalter on the acclaimed, award-winning film Wiener Blut, which drew its visual inspiration from the art of Georg Grosz and Otto Dix. He also wrote and directed three fiction films: Cirkus Rex, Crvenkapica (Little Red Riding Hood), and Mr. Ventriloquist. Although expressionism served as Bourek’s primary source of inspiration, his work was also influenced by other art movements and styles, like surrealism and pop art. His themes mostly revolved around folklore, literature, the grotesque, and naturalism.

In 2010, he became a full member of the Department of Fine Arts at the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts. He received a great number of recognitions in Croatia and abroad, including an annual Vladimir Nazor Award, the Vladimir Nazor Award for Lifetime Achievement, City of Zagreb Award, Premium of the 4th Zagreb Exhibition of Yugoslav Drawings, the 8th Maruli? Days Award; he was also awarded in Oberhausen, Atlanta, Chicago, New York, and Salerno.

Bourek’s numerous works have screened at Animafest Zagreb since its beginnings in the 1970s, building a strong relationship between artist and festival. The 2015 retrospective program was complemented by a screening of his then most recent work, Wiener Blut, which highlights both the scope of Bourek’s career and his unflagging creative spirit.

Zlatko Bourek

Zlatko Bourek

Zlatko Bourek

Zlatko Bourek

Zlatko Bourek

Zlatko Bourek

Animation Magazine

Chilemonos Fest to Honor Blue Sky Director Carlos Saldanha

Carlos Saldanha

Carlos Saldanha

The Chilemonos International Animation Festival will be bestowing its “Iconic Director” award on Carlos Saldanha, the Brazilian-born filmmaker behind many of Blue Sky Studios’ international hits. The two-time Oscar nominee will be attending the seventh edition of Chilemonos in Santiago, May 8-12.

Saldanha is being honored for his stature as one of the most influential directors of the past decade in Latin America and around the world. Known for beloved films such as Ice Age (2002), Robots (2005), Rio (2011) and most recently, the Oscar-nominated Ferdinand (2017), the director will present a Master Class covering the production process at Blue Sky and his experience in the Hollywood animation industry, “From Ice Age to Ferdinand.”

Blue Sky Studios evolved from a small indie shop into a 20th Century Fox partner and one of the biggest brands in the animated features business, with seven feature films its library and a global income close to $ 3.5 billion.

Saldanha will receive the Iconic Director award on Saturday, May 12 at 10 a.m. in the Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral. Previous recipients include Shinichiro Watanabe, Peter Lord, Mark Shapiro and Yoshihiro Shimizu.

Chilemonos will celebrate the honoree by presenting several of his films at venues around the country, including Robots, Ice Age, Rio and Ferdinand. Additional highlights of the festival’s screening program include the feature films Early Man by Nick Park, Oscar nominee Loving Vincent by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman, and Ethel and Ernest by Roger Mainwood in its national premiere.

The festivities will also include exhibitions, competitions, master classes, workshops, discussions and more.

Follow announcements from the festival on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @Chilemonos.



Carlos Saldanha

Carlos Saldanha

Animation Magazine

Animated People: Dave Filoni, EP & Supervising Director, ‘Star Wars Rebels’

Dave Filoni

Dave Filoni

Dave Filoni has been a staple of the extended Star Wars animated universe since 2008. Writer Cameron Koller checked in with the executive producer and supervising director to discuss the end of his hit Disney XD series Star War Rebels, and the important steps of his career which lead to him becoming one of the key storycrafters of this iconic franchise. Read more about the show’s final season in the rest of the interview here.

How did you get your start in animation?

I went to Edinboro University in Pennsylvania. It was one of the few state schools that actually had an animation program. This was back in 1993, so animation was gaining some momentum. But I didn’t really know a lot of people even once I got out of school … I applied to a bunch of different places, was rejected by a bunch of places. I applied for inbetweening jobs at Walt Disney and DreamWorks — I applied to Disney in Florida as well as California. I took the classic in-between tests; I did Tinkerbell and Sleeping Beauty and Pocahontas. I did a test for Anastasia at Fox. I never passed any of them.

I eventually moved to Los Angeles to take a job at HBO Animation. I was going to do storyboard cleanup on Spawn the TV series. As it turns out, I never worked on Spawn because it was several months before it was starting, so I ended up working at a small animation studio in Santa Monica called Jim Keeshen Animation, which is the same studio Seth MacFarlane took the Family Guy pilot to. But I knew one person in animation at the time, who was also from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where I’m from, a guy named Pete Mekis. He told me that they were doing a round of testing to do character layout on King of the Hill, so I got my first job at a bigger studio, at Film Roman. I did that for two seasons, one season in character layout and the second season as assistant director.

How did the Film Roman experience impact your career?

That was a tremendous place to learn. You got to do many different things, you got to talk to a ton of different artists, all who had tremendous experience. They made The Simpsons on the floor below us. They’re just very professional shows with incredibly talented people, and it was a great learning environment where if you showed a willingness to work hard you were giving an opportunity to do a bunch of things.

I met Lauren MacMullan, and she had become the supervisor of a show called Mission Hill at Warner Bros. I worked with her and Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. They went to Nickelodeon while I stayed working on The Oblongs, and I eventually went to Disney Television Animation and did a bunch of storyboards there. I worked on a bunch of series until Mike and Bryan developed Avatar [The Last Airbender]. And that was the thing that really changed everything for me.

What made Avatar so different?

Airbender was a show that we don’t really get to work on a lot. What I had been working on had been a lot of comedy driven things. I worked with some great people like Joe Horne and Vince Waller who are phenomenal artists and tremendous at comedy and humor, and I learned a lot from them, but it’s just not my strength. So when I did Airbender I was like, oh my gosh, this is like the stuff I grew up watching. I liked Robotech and Akira and all the things that Miyazaki was doing, and this was an opportunity to do that.

So, I wound up on Airbender and had a great time working on an action-adventure show with a bunch of people that I had worked with prior. Lauren MacMullan was there and Giancarlo [Volpe] a friend from King of the Hill was there, so it was a bunch of us doing something different to prove that we could pull off that kind of show. Out of that I got the opportunity to work on Clone Wars, and this was a strange one!

How did you end up in “a galaxy far, far away?”

Giancarlo and I were big Star Wars fans, and we’d drive everybody nuts talking about Star Wars. Chris Prynoski from Titmouse Animation would be up at Nickelodeon working on the opening title sequence to Airbender, but when he was off and hanging out we would talk about Star Wars, and I would explain to him what I thought the prequels were about and how he should be watching them, and then he would go home and watch it and come back and say he really enjoyed it a lot more. And he’d want me to set up the next one for him, so we’d have this back and forth.

A little while after that, I got a call from this woman named Catherine Winder saying that she worked for Lucasfilm Animation, and I thought immediately this was Vince Waller and the guys at SpongeBob making fun of me because I’m such a fan and Revenge of the Sith is about to come out. So I almost hung up. Luckily, that didn’t happen. She had gotten my name from George, and I had to remind her that when you say you’re from Lucasfilm there’s only one George at Lucasfilm, George Lucas. But no, she meant George Krstic. But I don’t know George Krstic so that further baffled me.

It turned out that George Krstic had asked Chris Prynoski who would be good to supervise a show about Star Wars, and Chris only gave my name and said I’m the guy they need. So I’m really here because of Chris, it’s his fault. But to get it I had to fly up here and meet George, I had to sit down and talk with him, and I heard what he had to say. We just really hit it off. He’s a really interesting guy and brilliant, and really took his time over the last several years — from 2005 until he sold it — to lecture about what he thought made Star Wars special. I was in the right place at the right time a lot. You need to work hard and surround yourself with a lot of talented people and seize the opportunity when you get it.

What was it like moving from 2D projects to 3D CG animation in The Clone Wars?

Everything I did in school was hand drawn on paper and shot on film with a camera that had been donated to the school by Chuck Jones. To be honest, I didn’t do any computer animation, nor did I even have a work email until I got to Lucasfilm in 2005. When I was working on Airbender, everything was still done on paper at our desks. We didn’t even move to Wacom tablets yet.

And later, how did you handle the transition from Lucasfilm to Disney, and from Clone Wars to Star Wars Rebels?

It was really different! I don’t know that any of us really saw it coming. When you work here long enough and you know George, you wonder what would this look like without him. I won’t lie, it was a surprise to me, but I was in a unique position in that we immediately fell into a relationship with Walt Disney Television Animation, there were people I knew from working there. Eric Coleman, who was a producer on Airbender, was now at TVA in a prominent role. I think it would have been a lot more of a challenge if I was going in blind to work with a people I didn’t know, but I knew these people and that was a way that I could help bridge a gap between Lucasfilm Animation and people we were now having to interface with at the Walt Disney Company.

My thing was, how do I make this work and maintain the integrity of Star Wars and Lucasfilm? I have to say that working with TVA we’ve been able to achieve that in Rebels. They respected my background and knowledge on Star Wars, and I try to reciprocate by listening to what their needs are and their own excitement at working on a Star Wars property. It became a really good opportunity for everyone involved.

The hardest thing is that we had to shut down Clone Wars, which was difficult. But a lot of those people have gone on and flourished at places like Pixar and had fantastic careers, and I’m very proud of all of them. When you’re around long enough you realize you’d like everyone to stick around together, but everyone’s gotta grow and find other opportunities and take what they know and create art elsewhere. It was sad to rebuild, but I still keep in touch with a lot of them.

What is your process with creating story & canon for Rebels that fits into the masterplan of the Star Wars movies?

We didn’t really have to slot much in at all. I think we see opportunities like when Saw Gerrera was going to be in Rogue One, and I was like, well I know that character well because we created him in Clone Wars with George. I would talk to Gary Whitta, who was writing Rogue One, and Gareth [Evans] and think, what can we do after the movie so people who saw that can expand on the movie and their knowledge? But it always has to be a story that works for Rebels. It can’t just be for the sake of making a connection.

That was always true especially with popular characters from Clone Wars like Ahsoka Tano. A lot of people wanted me to bring her back and put her in the show, but I couldn’t have her be in the show and then have that character take over, just because she was your favorite character in the last series we did. Her story had to work in support of Ezra’s stories, otherwise it would just be distracting. So we found ways to make that work. Same with Darth Vader. So you find good reasons for the story. I think in the first season it felt a little more celebrity-based like when Lando showed up. I think that worked, but it winds up being a little of a stretch. It’s hard because you love these characters, but I always have to be concerned about what it means in the bigger picture. It was easier with Clone Wars because I had more control over what they were doing.

In the last episodes of Star Wars Rebels, wolves are prominently featured. What is the significance of these animals to you?

At a very young age when I saw the film Never Cry Wolf it made a big impression on me. Both in the book and the film, it’s about perception and fear around wolves and the reality of what the animal is, versus culturally and mythologically what it’s come to represent. I don’t think you can ignore the aspect of the wolf that is a devourer and destroyer, but you can’t also ignore that it has its place in the greater balance of nature. In a pure form, when you get to the Force there are ideas about the Force being in balance without us and then there’s our own agency in how we use the Force as a power, and that can be for good or evil.

I was also heavily influenced by Princess Mononoke and the imagery in it. You make your own animated series and you take from things that you like. I debated for a long time whether there was a place for these creatures in Star Wars, but I had a lot of support from my friends in the story group and the writers, they said it made sense, so I started with these small cats that Ezra understands and has an affinity for to get to the wolves and the idea that they are embodying the force at different times. I think it worked out for the most part. We’ll see what they think in the end.

Dave Filoni

Dave Filoni

Avatar: The Last Airbender

Avatar: The Last Airbender

King of the Hill

King of the Hill

Star Wars Rebels

Star Wars Rebels

Star Wars Rebels

Star Wars Rebels

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Animation Magazine