June 2016, Volume 20, Number 3

Academics

Pitching to the Majors

From its inception, MDC’s Miami Animation & Gaming International Complex (MAGIC) has placed workforce preparedness at the center of its mission, grooming the next generation of animators and game developers to hit the ground running. At MAGIC’s recent Pitch Day, students earned an extraordinary experience – and a concrete shot at the big time – pitching to top industry executives from cartoon giant Nickelodeon and parent company Viacom.

But Pitch Day didn’t happen in a vacuum. It started with Pitch Week, in which 26 students answered the call to pitch animated shorts to MAGIC faculty and staff, as well as industry guests, including Miami-Dade County Film Commissioner Sandy Lighterman, Canadian Trade Commissioner Matthew C. Waldron, and Creator and Producer for PBS series TechVersify Jessica Kizorek.

“We tell students: ‘Don’t think of this as a school. Think of it as a studio,’” said MAGIC Director Mauricio Ferrazza, an animation industry

veteran. “Our approach is always workforce-driven to make them feel as close as possible to a real industry environment.”

Just as is done in the industry, MAGIC mailed invitations to participate in Pitch Day to those students who had excelled during Pitch Week, including Neil Byrden, Laquisha Campos, Daneris Delgado, Jonathan Fernández, Kristen Molina, Sofia Elena Raffo and Ashley Saludes – all of whom just completed their first year at MAGIC, which launched last fall at Wolfson Campus.

“This is an incredibly rare opportunity,” said Ferrazza. “It’s just unheard of, in a college setting, to get your ideas in front of Viacom’s COO.”

Indeed, four high-ranking executives from Viacom’s Americas division served as jurors: Juan “JC” Acosta, executive vice president and chief operating officer; Tatiana Rodríguez, senior vice president of Nickelodeon Programming and Creative Strategy; Migdalis Silva,

vice president of Nickelodeon Programming and Acquisition; and Niccolò Totaro, senior coordinator of public affairs and corporate social responsibility.

The reward? Selected projects will be mentored by Nickelodeon’s creative team and developed at MAGIC’s industry-standard facilities.

“Mentoring programs are at the core of what we do at MAGIC,” said Ferrazza. “It doesn’t get more real than this.”

— MR


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