Launchpad, a first-ever live-action shorts incubator program that provides the opportunity for filmmakers from underrepresented backgrounds to produce live-action short films for Disney+ enlisted the talent at ILM to provide visual effects for the films. For its part, ILM used the project as an opportunity to provide up-and-coming talent from underrepresented groups a chance to expand their experience to higher-level roles.
The visual effects for American Eid, The Last of the Chupacabras, Dinner is Served, and Growing Fangs, each centering on the theme of “discover” were supervised by Beth D’Amato. A 24-year veteran of ILM, D’Amato has previously been an artist and supervisor on dozens of films including, the Star Wars prequels, Star Trek, Lucy, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, The Revenant, Captain Marvel, Jurassic World, and Black Widow. Also contributing to the project in the role of visual effects producer was Shivani Jhaveri who had previously been a production manager on Lucasfilm’s hit Disney+ series The Mandalorian and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
“This project was special not only because it offered amazing opportunities for underrepresented filmmakers to tell their stories, but that diversity went so much farther than what you see on screen,” explained Beth D’Amato, adding “On set, there were so many women and people of diverse backgrounds on the crew as well, and the bond we felt because of it was palpable. We all knew we were a part of something truly unique.”
Shivani Jhaveri said, “Disney Launchpad was a project that showcased a unique variety of voices throughout the scope of the show. It was truly a pleasure working with filmmakers who were so closely connected to their stories to help them elevate their narratives through visual effects. We were lucky to have directors that could think outside the box and work with us to accomplish creative solutions within our time and budget considerations.”
Unlike many studio diversity initiatives, Disney Launchpad is not aimed at first-time directors, but rather experienced filmmakers poised to make the leap to studio filmmaking. Disney’s stated goal for season 1 of the Launchpad Shorts Incubator was to tell six deeply meaningful personal stories straight from the filmmakers’ heart, amplified with the scale and reach that only Disney has. The program returns for a second season with some exciting new changes. For the first time ever, writers will be eligible to apply for the program as well as directors. This means filmmakers can apply as a writer, writer/director, a director with a script someone else wrote (so as a team), or as a director. Applications opened May 10th and will close on June 11th, with the program start in December of 2021.