The Connector
The Connector
by Adreon Patterson

Even though I chose to purse writing for my M.F.A., my first love has always been animation. From the Disney Renaissance to MTV to Saturday mornings, I lived, ate and breathed any and everything animation to the point of receiving a B.F.A. in the field. So SCAD Atlanta’s AnimationFest fit perfectly in my pop culture wheelhouse. Having attended AnimationFest’s first year, I anticipated this one to be just as exciting.

Friday, Sept. 28

Photo by Adreon Patterson

Going into day two of AnimationFest, I was thrilled yet exhausted by the day ahead. The first panel of the day was “In the Moment: Exploring Inclusion and Diversity in Animation” featuring all-female speakers. Like the “Ask Me Anything” session, this one proved to be more popular than even SCADshow anticipated.

At first, it seemed to be a decent-sized audience before ballooning into a packed sardine can. It was standing room only with some attendees opting to sit on the stairs. After some commotion, Professor Christina Maloney walked onto the stage followed by a line of prominent women in animation including “How to Get to Sesame Street” Coordinator Christina Elefante, “TED-Ed” Animation Director Lisa LaBracio, Floyd County’s Savannah Alexandra and Awesome Inc’s Ashley Kohler. Once the panel started, Maloney and the women spoke about women in animation with the group making up 23 percent. They addressed issues like equality and the current climate of the #MeToo movement.

As the conversation progressed, a few spout words of wisdom were said for upcoming female animators and artists.“I have a responsibility to take a leap,” LaBracio stated when talking about hiring women in the field. SCAD alumna Alexandra’s affirmation struck a cord when she said, “You yourself can be your own role model.” It was something many people in the room needed to hear.

Photo by Adreon Patterson

Due to the overrun time of the previous panel, anyone who going to the next event had to rush upstairs to the “Alumni Panel” on the main stage. After a while, Maloney came to the podium to introduce the panelist. The panel included Alexandra, ASIFA-South president and consultant Ginger Tontaveetong, recent graduate Parnaz Rad and Roberto Castillo of Home Depot. During the panel, each member told about their journey from watching the animation to creating it.

Rad made a profound statement with her truth by stating “SCAD was the first time I was challenged in my life.” Having been through my own SCAD journey, her statement spoke to me on an artistic and personal level.

After taking a much-needed break between panels, I returned to SCADshow ready to see the screening “Celebrate the 20th anniversary of Disney’s ‘Mulan.’” Like the “Exploring Inclusion and Diversity in Animation” panel, the screening filled quickly with students, faculty and the public. The screening was a special treat as Professor Tina O’Hailey and Professor Gregg Azzopardi, who worked on the film, were in attendance along with Director Tony Bancroft.

O’Hailey had a special treat for the crowd as acapella group SCAD Bees did an outstanding rendition of the Mulan classic “Reflection.” An emotional O’Hailey introduced Bancroft to give a behind-the-scenes look at the film. Bancroft told stories about the film’s Chinese roots and showed unseen designs and ideas. After his talk, Bancroft and O’Hailey sat down and had an intimate conversation about the film’s production. The film’s viewing was an hour and a half filled with singing, claps, cheers and laughs from the audience. It was fun watching the film with an audience for the first time.

In the end, a grateful Bancroft told the departing audience “Thank you and keep on animating.”

Check back on The Connector for coverage of day 3 of AnimationFest.