Our exciting slate of guest speakers continues to grow as the festival draws near. Check back for updates!
Click a name in the list below to jump to that speaker's bio:
- Bill Kroyer - (Animation Keynote)
- James Portnow - (Gaming Keynote)
- Josh Bowen - Style 5 Animation
- Vincent Carrella - Addicting Games
- Lauren Cruikshank - University of NB
- Andrew "Beans" Embury - Media Artist Freelancer
- Neal McDougall - Canada Media Fund
- Jeff Mundee - Art Institute
- Scott Saulnier - Creative Director
- Pamela Kleibrink Thompson - Recruiter/Career Coach
- Mike Valiquette - Canadian Animation Resource
- Veena Vemuri - Aarki
Bill Kroyer - Animation Keynote
Director of Digital Arts
Dodge College of Film at Chapman University
Los Angeles, CA
Bill Kroyer is an Oscar®-nominated director of animation and computer graphics commercials, short films, movie titles and theatrical films. Trained in classic hand-drawn animation at the Disney Studio, Bill was one of the first animators to make the leap to computer animation as Computer Image Choreographer on Disney’s ground-breaking 1982 feature TRON. He pioneered the technique of combining hand-drawn animation with computer animation on projects such as his Academy Award®-nominated short film Technological Threat and his theatrical animated feature film FernGully, The Last Rainforest.
As Senior Animation Director at Rhythm & Hues Studios he directed animation on scores of commercials and many feature films, including Cats and Dogs, Garfield, and Scooby Doo.
He currently serves as Director of Digital Arts at the Dodge College of Film at Chapman University in Orange, California and as co-Chair of the Science and Technology Council of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, and Governor of the Academy’s Short Films and Feature Animation Branch.
James Portnow - Gaming Keynote
Founder and CEO
San Francisco, CA
James Portnow is CEO of Rainmaker Games and a freelance writer who has been published in Gama, Edge, Game Career Guide, The Escapist and other publications. Previously, he was CEO of Divide by Zero Games. James holds a Master's degree in Entertainment Technology from Carnegie Mellon University.
Josh Bowen- Style 5 Animation
Josh is a comedic writer and producer at Style 5. Josh prides himself on his ability to combine commerce and comedy to make commercially viable cartoons. Most recently, Josh co-created, wrote and produced the adult animated series, 'Goodwin vs. Badwin.
Vincent Carrella- Addicting Games
San Francisco CA
Vincent Carrella is a veteran game designer and creative director whose notable credits include the seminal adventure games Iron Helix and Bad Mojo. He was the game designer and story architect of Space Bunnies Must Die! and has written design docs and dialog for Electronic Arts, 3DO, DreamWorks, Warner Brothers, Jay Leno and Stan Lee. Carrella co-founded two pioneering game studios and a web animation company before taking time off to write a novel. He is now the Sr. Director of Licensing and Content Acquisition for Nickelodeon-Addicting Games where he actually gets paid money to play games.
Lauren Cruikshank - University of NB
Professor Media Arts and Culture
Lauren Cruikshank is a professor from the Media Arts and Cultures program in the Department of Culture and Language Studies at the University of New Brunswick- Fredericton. She has been doing research in the academic field of game studies for over a decade, with a specific focus on avatars and aspects of virtual embodiment. She has developed courses on games and gameplay, digital culture, social media, gender and media, television and popular culture in the Media Arts and Cultures program at UNB. She is also is in the process of developing a game studies research group and an interactive media laboratory on the UNB campus to further advance the academic study of games here in Atlantic Canada.
Andrew "Beans" Embury - Freelance Media Artist
Andrew has worked in animation, games, commercials, and visual effects living the varied life of a freelancer in the modern animation industry. He will be sharing with us some of his experiences and hints for others considering the life of a freelancer.
Neal McDougall - Canada Media Fund
Neal McDougall, Policy Analyst at the Canada Media Fund, has researched and shaped the policies and programs of the funding agency, as well as its predecessor, the Canadian Television Fund, since 2005. A lawyer by training, Mr. McDougall received his LL.B. from Osgoode Hall Law School in 2003. Previously, he worked in the film and television industry in a variety of writing and production roles. He holds a BFA in Film & Video Production from York University.
Jeff Mundee - Art Institute
Game Design Instructor
After graduating from the Art Institute's Game Art and Design program, Jeff did his internship with Factory1 Games learning the ropes of game design and environment modelling. He then worked with Electronic Arts for 3 years as a motion capture specialist, and was able to produce animation for almost every EA game from 2006-2009. Most notably, Fight Night Round 3, FIFA, Medal of Honor: Airborne, Skate, and Tiger Woods / Need For Speed U-Cap facial animation. It was at that time he began teaching level design at Ai Vancouver. He has taught a wide range of production and design courses and mentored hundreds of students at all levels since 2007. While teaching, he worked on several independent projects. He also has worked as a mission designer for True Crime HK, with Activision for a year, and most recently as a level designer on Red Rolling Hood with Holy Mountain Games.
Scott Saulnier- RIVR Media Interactive
Scott is the Creative Director for RIVR Media's online branch
Pamela Kleibrink Thompson
The 911 Recruiter/Career Coach
Boise Idaho, USA
Pamela Thompson is a popular speaker at colleges, film festivals and entertainment industry conferences around the world. Speaking engagements include the MDA Animation Workshop in Singapore; FMX in Stuttgart, Germany; KAFI in Kalamazoo, Michigan; Cineposium in Boise, Idaho; ADAPT in Montreal; and schools such as Ringling and Savannah College of Art and Design. She has presented courses at SIGGRAPH in San Diego, Boston, and Los Angeles; was a noontime lecturer at Disney Feature Animation; and taught the Career Realities course at Gnomon School of Visual Effects in Hollywood.
Thompson is an internationally-acclaimed recruiter, career coach and animation veteran (production manager on Emmy Award-winning The Simpsons, ink and paint supervisor on Paramount’s animated feature Bebe’s Kids.) She was named one of the Top Ten Recruiters by Animation Magazine. Her career has given her hands-on knowledge of every aspect of games, animation, and visual effects.
As manager of art at Virgin Interactive Entertainment, Thompson hired and supervised a staff of 50 animators, producers, and concept designers. She also produced award-winning games for Disney.
As the production manager of Brad Bird’s first network animation project, Family Dog, Pamela Thompson set up an animation studio from scratch, and worked with animators who went on to direct top-grossing animated features for Disney, Dreamworks, Sony and Pixar.
Thompson produced the Career Boot Camp in 1998–a weekend immersion seminar for animation professionals. She co-produced the event in 1999.
Pamela Thompson’s monthly column, The Career Coach, appears at the Animation World Network web site http://mag.awn.com. She has written articles for over 40 other publications, including Animation Today, Los Angeles Times, Entrepreneur, Eagle Magazine and Woman’s Day.
Mike Valiquette - Canadian Animation Resources
Michael Valiquette is an award-winning animation producer, manager and artist with over 15 years experience in the industry. In 2008, Michael set out to unite the diverse Canadian Animation community, and founded Canadian Animation Resources, the only central, online resource catering to both the independent sector and commercial industry in Canada.
Veena Vemuri - Aarki
Director of Marketing and Sales
Veena directs Marketing and Sales for Aarki, a company specializing in the marketing of mobile games.