The CLU Career Training Program in Torrance, California, proudly celebrates the third graduating class of its animation career training program for neurodiverse adults. CLU class of 2023 includes Christian Pech, Bryan Ramirez, Leo Romero, Brandon Williams, and Bobby Toresdahl. After graduation exercises, the emergent alums will be employees of CLU Transitions, DBA Brainstorm Productions, which supports brick-and-mortar facilities on Pacific Coast Highway in Torrance.
CLU is home to a swiftly growing animation career training program for adults on the autism spectrum. As CLU’s sister creative and digital arts studio, Brainstorm Productions offers paid workplace experience for CLU animation alumni. Brainstorm has a distinct mission: to be that bridge between school enrollment and paid roles. Brainstorm Productions presents compensated job opportunities for those with CLU animation diplomas.
Program founder and executive director Virginia Erxleben, EdD, BCET is positive about prospects for the newest crop of animation professionals. “Brainstorm is a catapult for these unconventional content creators,” said Erxleben. “We hope to engage with the entertainment industry on many fronts to provide meaningful employment inside an underserved community. Our students are too talented not to contribute to their chosen field! Let’s change the narrative from 80% unemployment to 80% employment within the neurodiverse population. Brainstorm Productions is a big step in that direction.”
In the last year, Brainstorm has completed a kid-lit-inspired multimedia package, comprising two animated short films, for author and director Linda Malik. The resulting Willow’s Tale, the adventures of a little black cat with a big imagination, is currently on the international film festival circuit and will screen in the 2023 Oscar- and BAFTA-qualifying Los Angeles Shorts International Film Festival on July 26. Willow’s Tale also is one of only 10 official selections in the 2023 New York Cat Film Festival.
Malik credits Brainstorm with superior animation skills and creativity. “Our long and successful collaboration with Brainstorm Productions has resulted in two short animations and one book, with more exciting projects to come,” she said. “On behalf of all little black cats, we are grateful.”
“We are excited to welcome this talented crew into LA Shorts International Fest 2023,” said LA Shorts Fest director Robert Arentz. “Their Willow work jumps off the screen. It will be a treat for audiences to share this joy in the theater.”
In addition, Brainstorm Productions has partnered with top karaoke manufacturer The Singing Machine Company and its Social Impact Officer Genna Rosenberg of GennComm; musical non-profit Rock Autism; and children’s book authors Jane Kusch (“The Secret Life of Sheba”) and Lisa Jacovsky (“Rascal Cat Brothers,” “Purrrfect as I Am”), respectively. In-production projects include an animated music video from composers/creators Tim and Vickie Myers, plus a graphic novel (“Tierra de Libertad” or “Land of Freedom”) by Latina filmmaker, writer, producer and La Femme Film Fest founder, Leslie LaPage.
Brainstorm is also in pre-production on an original, animated, half-hour short film compilation/special. The studio anticipates a streaming platform debut during World Autism Month (April) 2024.
“CLU and Brainstorm Productions continue to amaze!” said freshly instated Brainstorm senior staffer, animator, and Grilled Cheese Media co-founder Bob Harper. “I look forward to joining forces with these inventive artists.”
United in enthusiasm are advisory board members Walter Santucci and Kathleen Davison. CLU and Brainstorm founder/executive director Virginia Erxleben, animation program coordinator Sylvia Owens, and entertainment industry consultant Marlene Sharp of Pink Poodle Productions complete the cabinet.
Source: The Center for Learning Unlimited