Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Great Cause and a Great Time

Every year, for the last few years, the folks at Universal have hosted a Entertainment Designer Forum.
If you are not familiar with this event, it is truly a wonderful event that is for a great cause.

Last night was the 3rd Annual Entertainment Designer Forum and it was the first time the event was held at Orange County Regional History Center in downtown Orlando. The event includes two forums with some of the top design experts in the entertainment industry, a silent auction on unique theme park related items, and this year included the wonderful "Serious Art Of Make Believe" exhibit that I wrote about previously here.

Before I get into the details, let me explain why the event is held in the first place. All proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society in honor of Stephanie Girard. But who is Stephanie Girard ? Well, she was a well regarded Art Director & Set Designer in film, television, and theme park industry. She worked on a multitude of projects at Universal as well such as Grinchmas and Halloween Horror Nights. She was an amazingly determined and  resolute person despite the fact that she battled with colon cancer for six years. Her determination and selfless nature were driving forces in the creation of the Entertainment Designer forum which was created with the explicit desire to raise money for cancer. In 2010, with the help of veteran Universal scenic designer Kim Gromoll,  the 1st Entertainment Designer Forum was born.

This year, due to my work schedule, I attended the earlier, 6:30 forum.
Mike Aiello was the moderator. Mike is the show director for Universal Entertainment.
The panelists included:

First Session:
Scott Swenson: Director of Creative Services, Bush Gardens, Tampa
Mike West: Executive Producer, Universal Creative
David Hughes: Senior Designer, Universal Art & Designer, Entertainment
Lora Wallace: Show Director, Universal Entertainment Productions
Ron Hines: Sr. Studio Director, Nickelodeon Recreation
TJ Mannarino: Director, Universal Art & Design, Entertainment

Second Session:
Mike Wallace: Designer, Universal Creative
Curtis Hopkins: Designer, Universal Art & Design, Entertainment
Guy Petty: Principal Art Director, Walt Disney Imagineering, Creative Entertainment
Vicki Bowlin: Art Manager, Universal Art & Design, Entertainment
Kenny Babel: President, White Bird Entertainment
Kim Gromoll: Designer, Universal Art & Design, Entertainment

The forum was exceptional as always. All of the designers are very entertaining,  informative, and very personable. I spoke with many afterwards and they all really love to talk about their love for what they do.

As for the silent auction, there was a large array of very cool and unique items from Universal, Bush Gardens, Disney, and even an amazing Frankenstein bust done by Ray Keim (a seasonal member of Universal's Entertainment Art and Design).

I typically don't fare well in these auctions... but with all the proceeds going to the American Cancer Society I'm glad to see the items do well. However, this year I did finally score a nice item thanks to my wife. We won a jumpsuit costume that was used in the Saws and Steam house from last year!

So if you are into haunted attractions, interested in entertainment design, or just want to help a great cause I highly suggest it. You can follow developments for next year on the FB page.

More pictures of the event can be seen here.

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