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

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Nelvana Presents: Creative Sparks in Trying Times: Navigating Animation’s Turbulent Waters

Thu, Nov 2nd

12:15PM - 12:45PM



As the animation industry flows through a wave of uncertainty, dive into a discussion surrounding the challenges facing creative talent today. Veteran director and former animator Kevin Micallef, and creator and designer Sunita Balsara share their advice on staying afloat and remaining resilient during trying times.


Kevin Micallef, Creative Director of Development, Nelvana

Kevin Micallef is a 29-year veteran of the Animation TV and Feature Film Industry, currently the Creative Director of Development at Nelvana Enterprises. Previously directing a number of shows that range from preschool to teen including the TV series Elinor Wonders Why which received Two Emmy Nominations, for Outstanding Direction and Outstanding Preschool Series. Grossology, which was nominated for six Canadian Screen Awards and Detentionaire, which received three Canadian Screen nominations as well as a nomination for Best Teen Series at the Cartoons on the Bay Festival. Prior to Directing, Kevin was an animator for Walt Disney Studios, Sony, Warner Bros and Lucas Arts on such features as Lilo and Stitch, Osmosis Jones and Eight Crazy Nights.


Melissa Graham, Director of Production, Nelvana

Melissa Graham is a Daytime Emmy® nominated Animation Producer with over 25 years’ experience in the animation industry. Starting as an Artist then moving into Production Management, she has Produced many key Nelvana productions such as Handy Manny, Bubble Guppies, Max & Ruby, Esme & Roy, Agent Binky: Pets of the Universe and most recently, the re-launch of Barney in CG. 

Melissa brings her 2D and 3D expertise in Production, her calm professionalism and dedication to excellence into her current role as Nelvana’s Director of Production, where she oversees all original and co-produced animation content in Production.


Sunita Balsara, Designer, Nelvana

Sunita Balsara is a designer, writer, and professional worrier based in Toronto. Sunita started working in animation a decade ago as a background and prop designer on ‘Bubble Guppies’ at Nelvana. Since then, Sunita’s been a character and prop designer for such series as ‘Corn & Peg’ and ‘Thomas & Friends’. She has been published twice in indie comic anthologies and has successfully pitched two short films, one of which, ‘Ostinato’, will be premiering at Spark next month. When she isn’t drawing or daydreaming, she can be found struggling to not kill her houseplants.


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