MIA Animation Conference Brings Disney, Cartoon Network Animators to Miami

Ever wondered what kind of work went into some of your favorite animated classics? Are you looking to break into the industry? Maybe you're just a huge Pixar freak? You'll have the chance to rub shoulders with the animation/gaming elite and perhaps pitch some ideas of your own at the Miami International Animation Conference October 20-21 at the Miami University of Art and Design.

The keynote speaker is none other than Matthew O'Callaghan, director and animator who's worked on such staples as The Little Mermaid and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the film famous for bringing characters like Warner Bros' Daffy Duck and Disney's Donald Duck together on the same screen -- and for bringing us (sigh) Jessica Rabbit. Other animation powerhouses include speakers from Disney, Universal Studios, and Cartoon Network, as well as gaming houses such as Guitar Hero's Neversoft and Microsoft Studios.

Both nights (Saturday, October 20, 7 p.m.; Sunday, October 21, 5:15 p.m.) boast a separate animation festival held at Miami Beach Cinematheque at Historic Hall. Students and young directors will have the chance to showcase their work and earn some awards.

At the conference's Pitch to the Industry event (Saturday, October 20, 1 p.m.), top submitters have the chance to pitch their ideas to a panel of industry professionals. We'll let Leah Hoyer, Microsoft Studios' Animation and Gaming Narrative Director, tell us what they're looking for:

Can't wait that long to network? Two free networking events are scheduled before the conference: Wednesday, September 26 at Will Call (7 p.m.) and Wednesday, October 17 at Casa Moderna (7 p.m., 1100 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami). Both events feature everyone's favorite, the open bar, from 7-9 p.m. as well as opportunities to get free passes, free t-shirts, or register early.

The full conference will run you $180 (with $100 for a one-day pass), but AI students ($80) and MIU students (free!) get a deep discount. The pass gets you access to the conference, all lectures and panels, and the animation festival.

Visit miaanimation.com.

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