by Liza Mitchell
A three-day event celebrating the magic of animation is drawing some of the biggest names in the field to the First Coast. The Citrus Cel Animation Film Festival, founded by Shane Douberly and Bill Waller of the local animation production company Dripsblack, is held April 4-6 at The Florida Theatre (
As festival director, Douberly said they originally developed the concept four years ago as a way to promote the culture of animation and provide an opportunity for animators, filmmakers and students to network in Northeast Florida. He is excited to welcome a number of well-known industry professionals to the newly expanded event featuring screenings, panel discussions, an art exhibit and workshops.
“I think there is a huge market for animation,” Douberly says. “There are a lot of animated elements in commercials. In film, there are a lot of visual effects and clean up. There are a lot of blockbusters like Brave and Paranorman, a lot of huge films and a lot of interesting independent films. It’s any aesthetic you could think of. The story could be anything you want it to be and I think people are drawn to that.”
Discussion topics include 2D and 3D animation, movie and television title sequences, stop motion, gaming animation, experimental and mixed media. Each night will include the screening of feature film and a software package will be awarded to the winner of a student short film contest. The event will also feature Juiced, a 24-hour animation contest during which time participants must conceptualize and execute an animated clip
“I think it’s a cool way to showcase the independent work of the animators who work for bigger studios. We have about 160 short films plus the features. It’s sort of ridiculous.” Douberly says. “I think in terms of content over the last two years, the bar has definitely been lifted.”
Guest speakers include the award-winning animator, director and instructor Larry Lauria who will present “The Art of the Animation Business,” detailing the ins and outs of the animation market from the merits of freelance work to business models to start an independent company. Lauria has 37 years in the animation business and previously served as head of animation at the Disney Institute in Orlando and Course Coordinator and Instructor at the European School of Animation in Dublin. His website, “Larry’s Toon Institute” is lauded internationally as a trusted animation resource and his blog, “Always Animated” is featured on Animation World Network (
A Storyboard Master Workshop with author and studio head Mark Simon will offer time-saving storyboard tricks, camera techniques, crafting the perfect storyboard pitch, framing tips, storytelling with camera angles, software demos and creating real-time animatics. Simon is the author of “Storyboards: Motion in Art” 3rd Edition and has worked on over 3,000 productions for Disney, Nickelodeon, HBO, Universal and Sony
Georgina Hayns and Brian McLean of Laika, which produced the film Paranorman, will also be in attendance. McLean is the Director of Prototype for Laika. Hayns is the Creative Supervisor who has been involved in puppet fabrication for stop-motion feature and short films such as Coraline, Corpse Bride and Mars Attacks!. McLean was instrumental in the development of 3D printer technology for facial animation at LAIKA. He won an Annie Award for Special Achievement in Animation for his work on Coraline and has created large scale characters for Warner Bros. and Disney.
Appearances also include Vincent Nguyen of Blue Sky Studios. Nguyen majored in illustration at the School of Visual Arts in New York, where he currently teaches life drawing. He began his professional career as a children’s book illustrator, having worked with Barron’s Publishing, Concordia Publishing House, Harper Collins, McGraw Hill, Marshall Cavendish, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster, Highlights Magazine, and Weekly Reader.
“We grew quite a bit this year. This is the first year we have grown the conference side so the response has been a lot more receptive,” Douberly says. “There are quite a few filmmakers who want to come down and support the festival. We have about 24 countries involved with the films and over two and a half hours of student work from all over.”
The festival will also sponsor the Florida premiere of Zarafa, a film by Remi Bezancon and Jean-Christophe Lie at 8 p.m. April 4. “It’s a French, traditionally animated film,” Douberly says. “It’s really exciting to have a premiere.” The film tells the story of a 10-year-old boy named Maki and Zarafa, an orphaned giraffe who is a gift from the Pasha of Egypt to the King of France,. Hassan, Prince of the Desert, is instructed by the Pasha to deliver Zarafa to France but Maki will do whatever he can to stop him and fulfill a promise to bring Zarafa back to his native land.
One of the festival’s signature events is called Pure Premium features the best of the bushel. “It’s phenomenal and I would have to say night, every collection of films is of that caliber. That has always been our standard,” he says. “The work is just so superb this year. It’s a jam packed weekend,” he said. “I’ve seen everything and I’m excited to see it again.”