London International Animation Festival 2023

Animation Industry Event 4: An Animated and Neurodiverse World

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LIAF presents the 2023 UK Animation Industry Event – 6 panels giving insider access to some of the hottest topics of the year. We’ve gathered together some of the most passionate, honest and insightful experts from a wide range of different areas and backgrounds who are ready to cover all manner of vital topics to give you much food for thought.

Animation doesn’t stand still; and debates and discussions with animators and creative experts are the best way to get in touch with what’s happening. This year we’ll be looking into the minds of some of the most creative forces currently working in the field of the animated documentary, discussing the intrinsic role of the Animation Producer and how do you get to become one, finding out whether animation can be a viable and satisfying career for people who are neurodiverse, looking back at the meteoric growth of the UK animation industry over the last 20 years and looking forward to how the next 20 years might develop in CGI, 3D and general technology.

The panels will be chaired by Saint John Walker, Dean/Director of Industry Engagement at Escape Studios and Julian Scott, animation consultant at Film London.

For anyone currently working in the film and animation industry, thinking of working in the industry or just plain curious, these 6 talks are indispensable. They are free to everyone and take place live and online on our streaming platform over the 2 days of December 2 and 3.

UK Animation Industry Event 4: An Animated and Neurodiverse World

Are there many people who identify as being neurodiverse working in animation? If not, why not? What needs to change to enable studios access to a rich seam of talent that they might be missing and for that talent to feel comfortable enough to engage? Let Film London introduce you to a studio that has done just that, hearing from both neurodiverse and non-neurodiverse people who work there and what each has learned from the other.


Moderator: Julian Scott, Animation Consultant at Film London

Julian Scott is a BAFTA-nominated Executive Producer. He has been developing, financing and co-producing feature films and television in the international arena for over 25 years. As animation consultant for Film London, his focus is on generating inward investment for London’s animation studios, by finding partners outside the UK seeking creative and financial soulmates and advising on the UK animation tax credits. Other areas of his work include tackling skills and creative gaps in the animation industry and lobbying to get proper recognition for animation in the UK creative sector and advising studios on business and creative development.

Simon Davies: Animation Director

Simon is an animator and director whose most recent work includes animating on The Smeds and The Smoos and series directing Numberblocks for CBeebies. He has also worked on Sarah and Duck and Tree Fu Tom for CBeebies as well as Disney’s John Carter. He also runs the YouTube channel "Autism & Animation" talking about navigating the animation industry from a neurodiverse point of view.


Paulene Hamilton: Head of People and Talent, Blue-Zoo Studio

Paulene joined Blue Zoo in 2017 in the studio's first dedicated People and Talent role. She looks after the P&T team which takes care of HR, recruitment and talent management. She has worked in the creative industries for 30 years, including architecture, art and design, fine art and contemporary crafts. Paulene is one of 5 BeeKeepers at the studio who oversee their commitment to the B Corp Accreditation.

Alex Davies: Animator and Designer

Alex is a Greek-British designer turned filmmaker, focusing on themes of mental health and expressing different states of mind. Alex started his career as a service designer after studying Product Design at the Glasgow School of Art, where he was introduced to storytelling as a design tool for communicating complex concepts. Following a late in life ADHD diagnosis, which reframed his lifelong struggle with mental health, he became intimately aware of how crucial representation is. Driven by his belief that animation can be uniquely impactful in expressing how consciousness is experienced, he pursued a Master’s degree in Animation at the Royal College of Art. While there he produced his first short film A Perfect Morning Situation which aims to showcase how ADHD is experienced internally, as opposed to how it is most commonly represented. Alex has now started the film’s festival run and is working on new projects. During this panel Alex will showcase his film, along with a behind the scenes view of the techniques he developed to utilise ADHD as an asset to the process rather than a hindrance during its production.

Ari Atak: Apprentice, Blue Zoo

Ari is driven by curiosity and a passion for creative problem-solving, communication and storytelling, Ari has worked across disciplines in the Creative Industries. In classic “Neurospicy” style their career is diverse, including: model-making, illustration, colour grading & restoration, voice acting, production + ‘generally useful all-round adaptator to whatever’s needed at the time-er’! Working both in-house and freelance for TV & Film, Product and Game Development. Currently fulfilling a long-held dream in learning the craft of character animation through apprenticing with Blue Zoo Productions and loving every minute of it!

David Crabtree

David is a teacher who has made a life study of the ‘Theatre of the Classroom’. He is also well known for his work on neurodiversity and learning differences and has worked in a range of settings accumulating experiences in schools, colleges, Higher Education and prisons. There are a number of publications against his name including, ‘Cognition, learning and learning differently; doing it with the whole class’. In recent times he has become more involved in animation with talks on, ‘3D, the language of the brain’.