2019 marks Mark’s 25th year in the animation industry. After graduating from Sheridan College in ‘94 Mark began working as an inbetweener and key-cleanup artist at a number of Toronto boutique studios producing commercials and big studio features. Feature credits include SPACE JAM, ANASTASIA, TITAN AE, QUEST FOR CAMELOT, and OSMOSIS JONES.
When feature gigs were unavailable Mark worked as a designer at Nelvana, where he started working daily with his soon to be partner-in-crime, Todd Kauffman. The two of them recognized a similar sense of humour and passion for story in each other, and began collaborating on “just for fun” projects like writing and illustrating dark cautionary tales. The ultimate goal was to create and produce their own IP.
In 2005 they finally got that chance. They created and direct a series of 5 animated shorts for Nelvana’s Funpack program: The 9th LIFE OF SHERMAN PHELPS. With the taste of directing still fresh in their mouths, and their old design jobs being their only option back at Nelvana, the duo decided to strike out on their own. They officially partnered up as NEPTOON STUDIOS to create and develop their own IP and went looking for directing gigs to pay the bills.
They started off by directing the first 2 seasons of Fresh Tv’s TOTAL DRAMA ISLAND and TOTAL DRAMA ACTION. From there they went to create and direct their own series GROJBAND, followed by another original, LOOPED. While continuing to pitch and develop their own properties, co-directing is what they became known for and were soon tapped to helm the first season of CORNER GAS ANIMATED. From there they landed at GURU where they co-directed the 4th season of TRUE AND THE RAINBOW KINGDOM, and most recently PIKWIK PACK.
5:30PM - 6:30PM
The Big Pitch
It’s time for our annual Big Pitch contest!
Most competitions usually only offer critiques by industry execs.
The Big Pitch will feature a panel of judges representing departments throughout the animation pipeline. You’ll learn not only what makes a pitch sell but how to make it work from every angle!
1:00PM - 2:00PM
Co-Directing (Learning How to Cooperate and Play Nice)
Learn from one half of two of the most esteemed teams in co-directing. John Musker shares his secrets from his collaborations at Disney with Ron Clements, and Mark Thornton of Neptoon Studios shares his tricks from partner Todd Kauffman. These dynamic duos have co-directed such films and television series as Moana, Grojband, The Little Mermaid, Corner Gas Animated, The Princess and the Frog, Looped, Aladdin, Total Drama Island, Hercules, and Treasure Planet.
Learn some tips, hear some stories, and share some laughs.