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Jorge Gutierrez to Keynote 1st ‘Autism in Entertainment Conference’

The award-winning ‘Maya and the Three’ and ‘The Book of Life’ director will speak at the April 5 event that seeks to connect industry employers and talented neurodivergent individuals; conference features panel discussions, breakout sessions and entertainment.

Emmy and Annie award-winning animation director Jorge Gutierrez (Maya and the Three, The Book of Life) will deliver the keynote at the world’s first Autism in Entertainment (AIE) Conference, taking place on Friday, April 5, 2024, at the Skirball Cultural Center in West Los Angeles. The one-day conference aims to bridge the employment gap between creative adults on the spectrum and studio (plus other content production) employers. Participants include a roster of high-profile industry names and 11 neurodivergent entertainment academies/mini studios.

Gutierrez will kick off the program, sharing a tour of his Hollywood career as a creator/writer/director/artist and elaborating on autism as his personal superpower. Joining him will be representatives from Nickelodeon, Sony, and Ubisoft, as well as animator/reality star/educator Dani Bowman (Netflix’s Love on the Spectrum) and writer/producer/director Scott Steindorff (Understanding Autism, Station Eleven).

Video game giant Ubisoft will share aspects of its neurodivergent employment programs and ways that it includes people with autism in its workforce. 

Educational partners include entertainment academies/mini studios Brainstorm Productions; DaniMation Entertainment; Ed Asner Family Centers; Exceptional Minds; Game Gen; Inclusion Films; JDS Creative Academy; The Miracle Project; Silver Drawing Academy; Spectrum Laboratory; and Visual Arts Academy.

The event’s goal is to facilitate communication between studio/producer employers and talented neurodivergent individuals who seek careers in the entertainment industry. Areas of emphasis include film and television production, voice-over and on-camera performance, animation, and video game design. The program includes panel discussions, breakout sessions, and other activities.

Autism in Entertainment (AIE) is the result of a strategic collaboration between the nonprofit Orange County Asperger’s Support Group (OCASG), disability-focused staffing and consulting firm Zavikon, and generous grant funding from the California Department of Developmental Services (DDS). AIE seeks to connect entertainment top brass with work-ready job candidates who are on the spectrum.

“Many individuals on the spectrum have the passion, aptitude, and skills that make them well-suited for entertainment industry employment,” said autism advocate and activist, AIE founder/chair, and OCASG president Judi Uttal. “The AIE mission is to increase awareness of these skill sets and forge pathways to internships, apprenticeships, and placement into paid opportunities.”

Afternoon breakout sessions branch into separate tracks targeting performing artists, behind-the-scenes creatives, plus custom workshops for small and large employers. Between-session entertainment includes several Spectrum Spotlight mini-documentaries, which highlight standout neurodivergent talent. One of these short films, Autism in Entertainment Spectrum Spotlight: Dani Bowman - Animator/Educator, boasts a KIDS FIRST! Film Festival official selection status.

Event registration is free for qualified professionals on the spectrum and for entertainment industry hiring entities. Additional information is available here.

Source: Autism in Entertainment

Debbie Diamond Sarto's picture

Debbie Diamond Sarto is news editor at Animation World Network.