Imagination takes flight at the 2024 California Institute of Arts Producers’ Show.

Events May 17, 2024

Held at the David Geffen Theater at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles, the 2024 California Institute of Arts Producers’ Show is the annual celebration to screen and award films from their Character Animation Program. With hundreds of industry representatives, faculty, staff, friends, family, and alumnx in attendance, the awards night contrasts markedly with the sometimes lonely and solitary act of animating.

Attendees mingle prior to the awards. Photography: Rafael Hernandez.

For Maija Burnett, the Director of the Character Animation Program, the social and supportive environment of awards night is the most gratifying aspect, “My favorite part is sitting in the theater, feeling the energy from the audience, and hearing everyone's reactions to our students' films in real time.”

Over 800 attended the 2024 California Institute of Arts Producers’ Show. Photography: Rafael Hernandez.

The Character Animation Producers’ Show is accompanied by the Experimental Animation Program Showcase, which takes place on a separate night. This features student work pushing the aesthetic and technical boundaries of animation, with films that regularly pick up accolades at prominent film festivals.

Su Min Ha accepts the 2024 Procreate Award for Creativity in Animated Filmmaking. Photography: Rafael Hernandez.

At this year's Producers' Show, Testimony, by Su Min Ha, won the 2024 Procreate Award for Creativity in Animated Filmmaking. Our Partnerships Manager Jennifer Busey joined renowned Pixar filmmaker, animator, storyboard artist, and voice actor, Peter Sohn to present the award to Su Min.

Peter Sohn, Director and Vice President, Creative, at Pixar Animation Studios. Photography: Rafael Hernandez.

Testimony begins with Sister Angela checking in on Emile, an orphan who believes he is friends with a vampire, a vampire currently called Charlie. Charlie has had many names because — as Emile excitedly explains — vampires live a long time and need to reinvent themselves constantly.

Our judging panel was drawn in by its warm, painterly and detailed art style, playful dialogue, delicately stirring musical score, and a weaving story with deep underlying themes. Su Min’s film stays with you, speaking to the importance of treasuring creativity and listening closely to those who see the world differently — their imagination and storytelling gift the world its spark and hope.

Procreate Partnerships Manager Jennifer Busey speaks about Procreate's focus on amplifying creativity. Photography: Rafael Hernandez.

This is Procreate’s second year involved with CalArts, which, for decades now, has been at the forefront of nurturing the brightest lights of animation and other creative disciplines. As well as going on to successful freelance creative careers, Character Animation Program alumnx have become prominent members of major studios such as Disney, Pixar, Google, and Netflix.

Burnett points out that it’s vital to support upcoming creators before those career milestones, "Recognition of emerging talent is crucial in a few ways: it amplifies new voices, provides the opportunity to expand connections and networks, and affirms the importance of the creative process. This recognition is very meaningful for artists in the early stages of their careers.”

Maija Burnett, Ayla Kasimova, and 2023 Procreate Award recipient Si Yi Lee. Photography: Rafael Hernandez.

The outstanding films included in the Producers' Show indicate the upcoming generation of creators will be unique. Burnett observes they’re drawing from a wide range of media influences — social media, fine art, film, and video games, among others — and skillfully cross-pollinating them into ingenious new stories, anchored by a thoughtful and passionate sense of social responsibility, “Their work is relational, with a deep understanding of what it means to exist in the public arena. They are entrepreneurial and expand the universe of their stories and characters into new genres and formats.”

2024 Producers’ Show award winners: Justine King, Shea Territo, and Su Min Ha. Photography: Rafael Hernandez

Congratulations to Su Min, the other winners — Justine King for Amon and Shea Territo for Education with Lawrence and Toni — and the other many brilliant films from the 2024 California Institute of Arts Producers’ Show. It was a privilege and brought us much joy to watch through these creative productions. Animation is in good hands with this next generation of talent — we’ll be following closely.

If you'd like to see all the entries, head to the CalArts website.

Related articles