Our Award-Winning Innovators

Michaela Hart headshotCo-Founder Michaela Hart is an animation & multi-media producer, entrepreneur, artist, and activist who is focused on leading the animation industry into an exciting new realm. In 2019, Michaela and her partner Chris Jenkins, founded RAFT Animation, a unique studio model for eco-sustainable storytelling that leverages the power of positive narratives to inspire actions to better celebrate and care for our planet. https://raftanimation.com/iotter/ 


Chris Jenkins HeadshotCo-Founder Chris Jenkins has contributed his talents to an impressive roster of projects during his 30-year career in animation, producing and writing. He joined Sony Pictures Animation in 2002 and played a critical role in launching the division’s inaugural film, Open Season. After establishing Open Season, Jenkins turned his attention to Surf’s Up, creating the storyline, characters and the innovative approach of an animated mockumentary. Surf’s Up rode the 2007 Awards Season wave culminating in an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Picture.


Arati Misro headshotArati Misro / Global Strategy and Community Outreach

Arati brings 20 years of experience in the Entertainment, Tech, Education & lifestyle business from a global perspective. Her expertise includes Feature films, TV, Culinary, Wine product sales & startups. She thrives on recognizing & prioritizing short and long-term goals to greenlight a show or scale a business from a holistic approach. She is passionate about developing a good story with writers and envisioning our characters who bring authenticity to voice.

Francois Belot headshotFrancois Belot / Creative Strategist

Francois uses his extended knowledge of global entertainment production and distribution to thrive as a content development expert, creative, and business development executive. François is a serial entrepreneur with a wealth of creative experience in the West and in Asia, expert at collaborating with different cultures.


Rachelle Lewis headshotRachelle Lewis / Head of Talent / Executive Producer

Rachelle Lewis has been a talent scout and top recruiter in the animation and visual effects industry for the past 19 years. Before launching her own company, Rachelle Lewis Talent in 2006, she held the position of Director of Recruitment for Digital Domain, and was a Senior Recruiter at Sony Pictures Imageworks, and DreamWorks.


ash brannon headshotAsh Brannon / Director/Writer

Ash Brannon is an Academy-Award-nominated director, writer, and visual artist with 30 years of experience in the animation industry. His credits include Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story (directing animator, story artist) and Toy Story 2 (co-director, story co-creator), which won a Golden Globe for Best Picture in the Comedy/Musical category. Ash also directed and co-wrote the Sony Pictures film Surf’s Up, which earned an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature.


briana ryan headshotBriana Ryan / Consulting Producer

Briana brings 20+ years of production and creative development experience to animated feature film & TV and video games, working with startups and major studios alike. She has overseen creative development and pre-production for Sony Animation, Riot Games, Reel FX, Revolution and Nickelodeon Studios.


raul garcia headshotRaul Garcia / Director

Raúl was born in Madrid starting his animation career very early. He’s been an animator at international feature films ranging from Asterix and Caesar Surprise, The Chipmunks Great Adventure and Land Before Time until he worked on Who Framed Roger Rabbit, opening the doors as animator in the Walt Disney Studios for 10 years working in animated classics as Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Lion King, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules and Pocahontas.

Daniel Schier headshotDaniel Schier / Character Designer

Dan’s talent is to create properties in the realm of animation; continue to be challenged; and to grow his artistic and professional skills. His love for animation stemmed from great story telling and character animation of his youth. His ambition was to become a traditional animator at Disney Feature and he landed his first animation job there working on three features, then one at Dreamworks.

Pete Burns headshotPete Burns / Writer

After graduating from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Pete went to work in independent film and was fortunate enough to be part of two Oscar-nominated pictures, Boys Don’t Cry and You Can Count On Me. Then it was off to L.A. where he got in on the ground floor of Sony Pictures Animation.


Dr Stuart Sumida headshotDr. Stuart Sumida / Anatomical Consultant

Stuart is one of the most sought after anatomy consultants to film animators, working on more than 60 feature-length films, including Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Lilo and Stitch, the first Harry Potter film and The Chronicles of Narnia. Several of the films have been nominated for the Academy Awards Best Animated Feature of the Year, including How to Train Your Dragon, Ratatouille, Surf’s Up, Bolt and Kung Fu Panda.

Penney-Cox-headshot-174pxPenney Finkelman Cox / Executive Producer

Penney is a multi-faceted producer. With over a dozen credits, both live-action and animation, she draws upon her background in both creative and physical production as well as the executive ranks to develop and produce high profile projects. At DreamWorks Animation, which she started with partner Sandra Rabins, she ran the Animation’s development slate and supervised the formation of the studio’s music division for both live action and animated features.

Lorna-Cook-headshot-174pxLorna Cook / Director, Animator

Lorna directed Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and winner of four Annie Awards. Her extensive credits as an animator include The Land Before Time and the Universal Picture’s An American Tail. Lorna was an animator on two Academy Award-winning films from Walt Disney Pictures Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King.