SciFi Animation Exploration

Oct. 10th Event Concluded


Video Available From Archive

Watch the Animation Panel

About SciFi Animation Exploration

October 10, 2023 - EVENT CONCLUDED

Brooklyn SciFi presents a panel discussion with nine Brooklyn SciFi Film Festival animators as they explore their inspiration, process, and techniques creating science fiction genre films.  Digital, stop motion, and hand illustration techniques are represented along with the unique Brooklyn twist on challenges of limited space, gear, and low-to-no budget.   
The discussion references a program of animated films by the panelists included below at the bottom of this page.


Meet the Panelists

Cassandra Chrispin

Panel Moderator / Filmmaker / Women in Animation

Cassandra Chrispin, who also goes by Cassie Chris is a Haitian-American animator, writer, and sculptor born and raised in Brooklyn New York. She is a member and volunteer of Women In Animation, a member of the Black N Animated community, and a Rise Up Animation mentee. Her animation has won a Peelz Citrus contest and she was also one of the Fall 2023 round of Women in Animation mentorship mentees where she learned the process of Developing Adult Animated Comedy. Cassie is currently working on her first animated short and is well on her way to adding producer and director to her creative titles.

Rylee Arenson

Filmmaker / 2023 Selection

Rylee Arenson has a never-ending passion for creating entertaining in-depth characters and stories specializing in 2D character animation, and storyboarding. Rylee’s animation work has been showcased in numerous film festivals including The Dryden Theatre Best in Show, The After Birth Film Festival, The Geneva Downtown Film Festival, The Big Apple Film Festival, and most recently The Brooklyn SciFi Film Festival. As a recent graduate from The Rochester Institute of Technology, Rylee earned a BFA in animation and currently works out of Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Film: Space Case Cadets

Ashley Gerst

Filmmaker / Women in Animation NYC Co-Lead

Ashley Gerst is a 2D, 3D and motion graphics animator living in New York’s Hudson Valley. She is an Assistant Professor of Animation and Game Design at William Paterson University and an adjunct faculty member at School of Visual Arts. In addition to these roles, Ashley freelances with several studios in the Greater NYC Area and has worked for clients such as Nissan, American Express, JBL, Red Bull and more. If that wasn’t enough, Ashley is also an independent filmmaker. Her most recent animated film is The Spirit Seam (2019). The Spirit Seam has screened in over 100 films internationally and has won over 25 awards! She is currently working on two new films: Sundays (2023) and Being Pushed Down by Shadow (2025). Lastly, Ashley is a Co-Lead for Women in Animation’s NYC Chapter!

Film: The Spirit Seam

Michael Lavine

Filmmaker / 2023 Selection

Esteemed rock photographer Michael Lavine, renowned for his iconic portraits of musicians such Kurt Cobain, Notorious B.I.G, and David Bowie, has been making his own brand of visually unique images of celebrities for over 30 years. Michael has written and directed several dramatic short films. His short WEEKEND AWAY (starring Sophia Takal) played at numerous festivals. His latest project is a metaphysical sci-fi stop-motion animation film called THE DARK ODYSSEY, and is playing festivals all around the world.

Film: The Dark Odyssey 2 - Ice Nexus

Genevieve Leonard

Filmmaker / Women in Animation NYC Co-Lead

Genevieve Leonard is a film director, VFX artist and educator working in the New York City area. Her short films Oozing and Don’t Let Kids Play With Slime won Best Animated Short for the Shorty Shorts Competition at Blobfest in 2022 and 2023. In addition to her directing, Eve also volunteers to advocate for gender equality in the animation industry by working as a co-lead for the NYC Chapter of Women in Animation (WIA).

Film: Don’t Let Kids Play with Slime

Ryan Leonard

VFX and Compositing Artist

Ryan Leonard is a VFX and Compositing Supervisor at Powerhouse VFX in New York City. Highlight projects during his fifteen year career include Stranger Things : Season 4, title sequence in Deadpool 2, and Apple TV's Servant.

Demeter Lorant

Filmmaker / 2023 Selection

Director, writer, animator Demeter Lorant, born in Hungary, 1982, began his career in 1999 when made his first amateur short horror film called Picnic which was followed by a string of short films. In 2003 he made his first ’professional’ short film called Lag which got the award for best editing at The New York Short Film Festival. In 2005 he started developing a feature film project called Block-66, sadly after two years of pre production the project died and the script was never realised. After that Lorant ventured more into making animations, directed more than 50 music videos mainly for indie bands and he started to develop his skills as a projection mapping artist. In 2010 he founded Full Screen Studio which became one of the leading companies in producing visual content for events and creating projection mapping projects in Hungary. His 2020 short film Possessed by Aliens, about a boy who has to spend a week with his grandmother, that he doesn’t know is possessed by aliens, was officially selected by more than 40 festivals around the world and received many awards.


Brandon Paradise

Filmmaker / 2023 Selection

Brandon Paradise is an experimental filmmaker from Staten Island, currently studying film at New York University. With a passion for creative and original storytelling, Brandon aims to create stories and visuals unlike anything put on the big screen before. He strives to produce emotionally powerful works of art, using the full capabilities of film as medium of expression. Brandon also has interests in innovation, both within the fictional worlds he depicts, and within the process in which a film can be made.

Film: The Green Planet

Johnnie Semerad

Filmmaker / 2023 Selection

Growing up in Schenectady New York, Johnnie Semerad played football and was captain of the wrestling team but his dream was to move to New York City and become an artist. At eighteen Johnnie attended Pratt Institute to become the next great American illustrator. The fine art career quickly gave way to a career in computers and special effects. Johnnie went on to found QuietMan, a few years later that would become an innovative company with many firsts including the first Beatles music video, the first prime time Emmy for a tv commercial, and the first five second tv commercials. QuietMan has won virtually every advertising award, Emmys and even a Grammy including work on over 150 Super Bowl commercials. They have also developed an extremely robust live animation system that was used on well over 100 projects. Recently completing an animated short that has been selected in over 70 film festivals, won 22 awards and become academy award eligible. His greatest joys are daughters Emma and Dara.

Film: A Tree Once Grew Here