Toronto Animation Film Festival

Toronto Animation Industry Conference

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Where: Toronto Reference Library & Online

When: November 2-4, 2023

Previous Events:

Toronto Animation / VFX Job Fair

Presented by:


The Big Pitch presented by WildBrain

Fri, Nov 11th

6:00PM - 7:00PM

Online: Crowdcast

Watch the two finalists of TAAFI's Big Pitch go head to head in front of three Industry judges. The winner takes it all in this exciting live pitching event (plus a cash prize!). If you want to have a shot, submit your pitch in the link on our Industry home page. Or email bigpitch@taafi.com

The Big Pitch is brought to you by WildBrain.


Athena Georgaklis, Head of Development, Nelvana

Athena Georgaklis is the Head of Development for Nelvana. A highly respected animation executive, Athena leads the acquisition of rights and the development of all original content for Nelvana. Athena is committed to develop creator-driven content, working with the studio’s producers, creators, and talent around the world that will resonate with kids of all ages, and find a home in all markets. She helmed the creation of Nelvana’s The Most Magnificent Thing, DNAce, Agent Binky: Pets of the Universe Ready for Space Travel, The Hardy Boys live action series and many more to come.

Athena has worked in Canadian broadcast and production for more than 22 years. Prior to Nelvana, she oversaw all original animation production for Corus Entertainment’s kids’ networks, supervising the development and production of Canadian content in both English and French. During her time, she led the production and development of hit shows like Johnny Test, Camp Lakebottom, Mysticons, 6TEEN, Cupcake and Dinosaur, Rocket Monkeys, and the Total Drama Island franchise.


James R. Backshall, Animation Writer/Story Editor/IP Development

James is an Emmy-nominated Canadian screenwriter and IP development specialist with over 30 years experience, and 300 + produced broadcast credits writing for hit shows such as PAW Patrol and Max & Ruby. James has also developed courses and mentored new talent at local colleges, helping to foster the next generation of animation excellence in Canada - all for the love of cartoons!


Lorna Withrington, Vice President, Development–Animation, WildBrain

Lorna Withrington, Vice President, Development–Animation, is a recognized leader in the creative development and acquisition of kids’ and family properties with franchise appeal for the global market. As a key member of WildBrain’s content team, she helps drive the strategic vision behind the company’s diverse, multi-genre slate of original animation, collaborating closely with creators, writers, artists and other production stakeholders to instill creative excellence in WildBrain’s shows. Ms. Withrington possesses wide-ranging experience on international co-productions and in the creation of 2D, CG and hybrid series. With a career spanning such properties as Paw Patrol, PJ Masks, Peppa Pig, Bob the Builder, Fireman Sam and Thomas & Friends, Ms. Withrington has worked for some of the biggest brands in children’s content and brings this knowledge to finding and creating the next generation of children’s hits. Prior to WildBrain, Ms. Withrington held management roles in development, creative affairs, acquisitions and production with Spin Master, eOne Entertainment and HIT Entertainment / Mattel.


Rajan Kapila, Location Designer, Copernicus Studios

Rajan Kapila has been working in the animation industry for the past 10 years and has enjoyed every part of it. He has had the great joy of working on some incredible projects such as Angry Birds: Summer Madness, Nature Cat, Care Bears: Unlock the Magic, Give a Mouse a Cookie, and many, many, more. Over his time in the Animation Industry, he has been able to experience many aspects of the production pipeline that he feels has been a great influence whenever working on various projects. Currently working as a location designer and before that a storyboard artist, he has always been a storyteller and believes that working in Animation is his true calling. Rajan said "I am here to inspire, educate, and entertain through my stories" and it is with honour that he has come to TAAFI's Big Pitch competition "to present my stories to the world and discover a platform to showcase a truly entertaining and inspiring story for the world to see."


Ben McEvoy, Producer, Friends & Enemies

Ben leads creative initiatives for agencies, brands, media companies, entrepreneurs and educators, providing brand and content strategy, as well as hands-on creative production in animation, live-action, interactive web, apps, VR/AR, game development, events and interactive public activations, on projects throughout Canada, and internationally in the US, India, Singapore and China. 

As partner / executive producer, Friends & Enemies, Ben works with his team of senior creatives and a broad network of multi-disciplinary production partners creating original and branded content experiences for brands, agencies and media clientele. 

Notable clients include: Google, VICE Studios, 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate, CBC, Doc Channel, Teletoon, YTV, CTV, Discovery Channel, The History Channel, TVO Kids, Shaftesbury, and the National Film Board of Canada.

Ben is also co-founder of the Toronto Animation Arts Festival International (TAAFI) and a former board member.


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