Director Biography – Brandon Swofford (HAPPY THE ANGRY POLAR BEAR)

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Brandon is an Animator, Filmmaker, and Actor in Los Angeles, California and has been furiously drawing ever since he was a fetus.

Don’t worry, his mother is fine.

When he is not drawing away, he is usually performing, watching movies, hiking, exploring the zoo or making videos for his Youtube channel where he serves an audience of over 100K Subscribers.

He is ready.


Director Biography – Juha FIilin (DIVINE CONSULTANTS – THE BEGINNING)

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Juha Fiilin, the creator of Divine Consultants, has 20 years of award winning experience in flm, broadcast and online projects in over 10 countries. Juha lives and works in Barcelona, Helsinki and London.

Juha’s short film ‘Job Interview’ based on Divine Consultants has won 5 times the Best Animation Award – has been Nominated Finalist 5 times and been in over 30 Offcial Selections in film festivals worldwide.

Director Statement

Divine Consultants combines adventure and social criticism in a highly innovative form – something we have not seen before on silver screen, online and television. It’s an entertaining sci-f adventure comedy for young adults.

Director Biography – Phil Gomm (Red & The Kingdom Of Sound)

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Phil Gomm is Course Leader for Ba Hons Computer Animation Arts at the University for the Creative Arts, Rochester, Kent, UK.
Phil has a first-class degree in Three Dimensional Design and a distinction in Masters of Arts in Design. As an active filmmaker, photographer, writer, designer, art director and blogger, Phil’s varied and encompassing creative experience enriches his ability to guide and mentor his animation students.
His films include The In-Motion Picture (2001) Be Amazing (2010), The Making of Medway (2010), and The Illustrations (2009), The Fashion Show (2009) and The Story So Far (2009) – three short films documenting the Gateway School of Fashion, winner of the Times Higher Education Excellence and Innovation in the Arts Award 2009.
In October 2014, Phil published Chimera Books One, Two & Three – a series of children’s books characterised by fantastical worlds and imaginary creatures.
Phil was responsible for devising and delivering three diverse animation-related outcomes under the ‘ACT – A Common Territory’ Interreg funded project: the animation La Creation Du Monde, screened at the Maison de la Culture, Amiens, France; the Requiem Seven sculptures, exhibited at the Royal Opera House’s High House Production Park, Purfleet; and kinetic props and scenery for Benjamin Britten’s Noye’s Fludde, as performed at Cirque Jules Verne, Amiens, Théâtre Impérial, Compiègne and Comberton Village College, Cambridge.
His most recent exhibition of photography was Semblance (2016) in Whitstable, Kent, which continues his fascination with long-exposure photography.

Director Statement

About his work on Red & The Kingdom Of Sound for the Orchestra Network for Europe, Phil says, “What a fabulous creative opportunity – to imagine an entire world inspired by Britten’s music, and then see that world brought to the screen by such a talented team of artists, makers and animators, accompanied by musicians all over Europe. What an adventure we’ve enjoyed together!”


Director Biography – Suraya Raja

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Suraya Raja is an animator and director, and a graduate of the National Film and Television School, where she completed an MA in Animation Direction. Her films tell stories of the absurdity of human behaviour, the internal and the tragicomic, influenced by her previous work in psychology and social issues, and also by her day-to-day observations of human behaviour.


Director Statement

I get a lot of inspiration from my observation of people, and am really interested in how we think and behave. I have an interest in stories, which inhabit the internal, of mental health, perception and the comedy of human behaviour and interaction. Often my ideas come from social interactions in the mundanity of every-day life, and sometimes from my background of working in homelessness, psychology, substance use and offending.

I am drawn to creating characters that come across as weird or unpleasant, and shifting the perspective as we start to recognise ourselves in them. I am fascinated by the way in which we all think, and how we are really not all that different from one another. I wanted to make a film about a character’s experience of a mental health issue, without it being explicitly about a mental health issue, a story that people could engage with as a story. It couldn’t be educational or preachy, and needed to have a humorous edge, without being condescending.

I chose to make a story of a girl who experiences puro OCD, a form of OCD that is less known about. Intrusive thoughts, generally unspoken of, are something we all experience. My intention was to present these thoughts, often bizarre, taboo and funny, in a way that we can relate to, and to then reveal the more serious and distressing nature of the problem for Layla. I also wanted to really get across the internal thoughts, as they might be experienced, through the use of mixed techniques, contrasting physical textures, and sound.

Layla learns that facing your fears is a way to overcome them. Through avoidance techniques, Layla has learnt to ‘get by’ in day-to-day life, until suddenly she is confronted with her darkest fears. Ultimately Layla makes the decision to face these fears to save Friskies, the cat she loves, and in doing so realises she can trust herself. After the turmoil she experiences in the shed, a terrifying battle with her own thoughts, she is surprised to find herself still holding onto an object that she would have struggled to even look at before. As she looks at the object she experiences a sensation. She is not ‘cured’, but better able to deal with the issue she has.

Director BIO: Javier Longobardo (ONE LAST TIME)

I´m an Spanish visual artist, a teacher and an animations director, for music videos mostly. My most famous client so far, Kanye West, banned the video I made for his single “Street Lights”. Besides, I´ve worked for many other international artists. My career is a roller-coaster.


Director Statement


I love visualizing thoughts and drawing the motion of nature

Director Biography – Bobby Pontillas, Andrew Chesworth (ONE SMALL STEP)

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Bobby Pontillas went to see Disney’s animated film Tarzan in 1999 and was blown away by the groundbreaking visuals. Since then, Bobby has been determined to make an impact in the animation industry, and is committed to share his unlimited energy and infectiously positive perspective to every project. Bobby brings a wealth of artistic experience, having worked on a slew of productions at Blue Sky and Disney, he inspires the crew to expand their artistic horizons on a daily basis. Bobby hopes to steward an era of change to the visual styles of modern cinema.

Andrew Chesworth grew up passionate about drawing, reading, music, and movies. Disney’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit made a definitive impression on Andrew for its quintessential movie magic. Chesworth’s love for both the liberal arts and the visual arts defined his decision to pursue a career in animation. His diverse experiences directing short films and commercials in CG, 2D, and stopmotion, as well as many years animating for Disney, define his broad artistic taste. Chesworth believes that stories worth telling can inspire people of any culture or background.

Director Statement

“One Small Step is a thank you to my mother, Corazon Pontillas, who supported me in my pursuit of being an artist. All of us here at Taiko have worked hard to chase a dream, but none of that would’ve been possible without the support of our family and friends. My mother came to the United States from the Philippines to make her dreams happen, and that’s inspired me more than she knows to persist after mine, even if I wasn’t always the most grateful son. It was the honor of my life to get to work with the Taiko crew and tell our stories. I consider them both friends and family that supported me to live this dream.” -Bobby Pontillas

“One Small Step is our love letter to everyone who chased that impossible dream, and the family that supported them through it. Our story follows the relationship between Luna, a young Chinese American girl who aspires to be an astronaut, and her hardworking immigrant father. We wanted to reflect on the real and personal costs of Luna’s ambitions. Her relationships to her goals and her father change as life presents new realities. Dreams that seed in our hearts when we are young take on new meaning with experience and age. That core sentiment has defined my deep connection to this film. I’m so thankful to have been on this journey with such a sincere group of artists and dreamers. Luna’s story is filled with the rich life experiences of the talented, diverse team here at Taiko Studios. We are thrilled to share it with the world!” – Andrew Chesworth

Director BIO: Bismark Fernandes (EXPEND)

Director Biography – Bismark Fernandes

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Bismark Fernandes is a stop-motion filmmaker and designer from a Goa, India. He completed his M.F.A in Animation from Savannah College of Art and Design and is currently residing in New York.
Bismark has over three years of experience in designing and creating animated content for Television. He is well versed with various styles of animation with stop-motion being closest to his heart. What draws him towards this handmade art form is that it is tangible with subtle imperfections that makes it unique.

Director Statement

Humans constantly utilize or exploit resources that are available to us. The term resource is used in a general sense, as it can be related to food, water, raw materials or fuel. We use it as a necessity, to survive or use it excessively as a luxury to bring comfort.

The film “Expend” portrays the human tendency to exploit resources for our petty desires. In the story, the character acquires this energy by bringing harm to other creatures in the process. The human character in the film does not feel remorse or guilt for his actions as this is part of his daily routine.

The idea is not to condemn the use of our resources but to think of its source before wasting it.

The medium of stop-motion was chosen to complement the idea of the story. Stop-motion is tactile and tangible. Everything on the other side of the screen is relatable and real. It pushes the boundaries of story telling by connecting with the audience on a personal level.