About the Film

“Our Animated Minds” is a documentary film about animation and how it enables artists of all abilities to express themselves through the magic of motion! Join us as we tell the history of this incredible artform and the process by which we teach it to the next generation of diverse minds today, giving them a voice!

Part of the EasterSeals Disability Film Challenge Home Edition 2020

Meet the Cast & Crew

Dani Bowman

Founder and Chief Creative Officer of DaniMation Entertainment LLC.

Director, Narrator, Editor, Compositor, Lead Animator, Lead Cinematographer

Dani Bowman—who is on the autism spectrum founded her company, DaniMation Entertainment, at age 11. Dani has gone on to graduate from Woodbury University with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts (BFA) in Animation in 2018 and a Master’s of Business Administration in Global Strategy and Leadership in 2020–where she earned a scholarship in Civic Engagement and Leadership, earned her Entrepreneurship Award, and took both her junior and senior thesis animated shorts to San Diego Comic-Con. Dani is currently working on getting a Doctrine in Psychology focusing on autism.

She has worked professionally in the animation industry since 14, premiering 9 award-wining animated short films at Comic-Con each year for the past 8 years.  Her shorts feature the voices of Joe Mantegna, Tom Kenny (Sponge Bob), June Foray, Debi Derryberry, and Stella Ritter, among others. Dani uses her passions of Public Speaking, Animation, Illustration, Fine and Visual Arts, and Teaching Animation to demonstrate to others on the autism spectrum that anything is possible.

Since age 15, Dani has led summer animation camps around the country, initially with Joey Travolta’s Inclusion Films, and then expanding out on her own including the University of South Florida and most recently to Plymouth University in England to teach to over 1500 teens and young adults with autism and other different abilities. Dani not only teaches animation, but also works with her students as a role model and mentor, encouraging them to follow their dreams.

Brenna Verner

Animation Instructor

Screenplay, Animator, Assistant, Assistant Editor, Assistant Cinematographer

Brenna Verner works as a Teaching Artist through the non-profit organization Arts 4 Learning located in Miami, Florida. She teaches character design and computer animation to students with and without disabilities ranging in age from 6-22 using industry standard software such as Toon Boom Harmony.

She graduated magna cum laude from Florida Atlantic University where she earned her B.F.A. in Film, Video, and New Media.  She also earned an A.A degree in Computers Arts and Animation and an A.S. degree in Game Art and Animation from Miami Dade College with highest honors as well. She was invited to attend the VSA Intersections: Arts and Special Education Conference on scholarship as well.

She recently collaborated with MAGIC and Nickelodeon to produce her award-winning original 2D animated short film “A Balanced Breakfast” which is available on Youtube and will be dubbed and aired on Nickelodeon in Latin America later this year.

She lead a team of 30 students to produce the short film, acting as the writer and creative director, as well a storyboard artist, animator, and editor as well.

She has also won awards on the state and national level for her indie video game designs and volunteer community service. She prides herself on being creative and caring and loves nothing more than having the opportunity to share her passion for animation with the next generation of creative talents- our students!

Arturo Brito

Student

Animator, Assistant Cinematographer

Arturo Alejandro Brito B. was born in Caracas (Venezuela) on April 7, 2002. When he was a year and a half old he was diagnosed with Autism. He flapped his hands; he walked on tiptoe, hitting his head against the wall. The day we received the diagnosis we decided that each achievement would be considered as an accomplishment and that we would go step at time. When he was in sixth grade, a friend gave him a book on how to draw dinosaurs. From that time on, everything changed. His behavior. His attention and energy. 

Arturo found in the drawing a way to express himself and with a video game he began to make his first animations with Stop Motion. Then, with the Lego blocks, he found a range of possibilities and they were used to make small videos.

In 2015 he moved to the United States, and when he went to High School he applied to five magnet schools that offered Digital Animation studies. He was accepted in all and decides to study 3D Animation. This year he will be completing his last grade. He assures that studying with his teacher Mr. Torres is something that amuses him a lot.

Between 2018-2019, he began learning how to use Garage Band and Harmony Toom Boom with the help of the “Animation Gets Real” group. Since then, he began to acquire knowledge about these programs that he has continued to use with small videos that he makes in his spare time,

Arturo is working on his new YouTube channel that he has called “The Grey Guy”, a platform in which he seeks to identify his ideas, his points of view on specific topics and his creativity to its maximum expression.

For Arturo, (The Grey Guy as he likes to be called in his networks) animation has become a way of life, where his imagination is fired with real or fictitious characters that he crosses in epic stories that flutter in his head. Stories that sometimes come to light, and many others remain browsing their world where autism, more than a diagnosis, is a way of living.

Marc Matta-Awad

Student

Animator

Marc was born an extreme prepare baby at 26 weeks in 2001. He was diagnosed with severe autism at the age of 3 1/3 yrs old. He was non-verbal until the age of 7. He has always loved to draw starting at about the age of 2, using magnetic drawing boards and at times creating enormous drawings on our Living Room floor tiles. He also had a fascination with drawing using computer apps since the age of 4. One of his other great joys was building Lego sets, as well as making his own creations using Legos.
Marc graduated MAST Academy @ Homestead in 2019 and is looking forward to his Sophomore year in college starting the Fall of 2020. He is currently working towards his Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and has a new found interest in pursuing formal Animation courses at a College level.
Marc began his love of Animation when he was introduced through “Arts 4 Learning” during the one week course “Animation Gets Real” in the summer of 2019. He enjoys using the skills he has learned to create mini Animation clips
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We always felt art was a wonderful form of expression especially when Marc was non-verbal. Through animation and working with other students and instructors, Marc has gained more self-expression, self-confidence as well as invaluable opportunities to socialize. Marc looks forward to expanding future possibilities in the animation field.

Chris Castillo

Instructor

Animator, Storyboard Artist

Chris is an animator, character designer and story artist. He has a BFA in Animation from Woodbury University from Burbank, CA and has more than 3 years of experience in teaching animation to young children and young adults on the autism spectrum.

Since 4 years old drawing with his etch n’ sketch art, cartoons were always huge facets of his life. As long as he can remember in school, Chris was always your typical best artist in the classroom. Disney films like “Beauty and The Beast” and the “The Lion King” fascinated him growing up along with non-Disney films like “An American Tail”. More importantly, he was interested in watching the behind the scenes content that took him through the process of creating an entire film. The art and amount of drawing completely captured Chris’s attention through his high school and early college years.

When Chris finally learned that he could build a career making cartoons, he knew that he had to find a school that would give me the tools to do so. Chris was accepted into Woodbury University for their animation program and every class fascinated him as someone who was new to animation. When the time came to intern, Dani Bowman of Danimation Entertainment gave him an opportunity to pass on the same passion to new artists and storytellers.

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