Our Launchpad Filmmakers Interview was nothing short of powerful. Just like the 6 films that this series features in its first season. By the way it premieres on May 28th on Disney +. A great way to discover cultures, perspectives and get some food for thought. You don’t want to miss them.
The beauty of this new series comes in different ways. First and foremost, to me, it is a wonderful way to experience the way through other cultures. Their influences, their journey of self discovery and much more. Additionally, it is a fantastic opportunity to get to know new filmmakers. Of course, that means, new ways of expression via the art of film. So, we sat with the panel of creators of the shorts to talk about their inspiration.
We spoke to:
- Mahin Ibrahim (Director, Disney’s Diversity and Inclusion)
- Phillip Domfeh (Launchpad, Sr. Manager)
- AMERICAN EID: Aqsa Altaf (Director)
- DINNER IS SERVED: Hao Zheng (Director)
- GROWING FANGS: Ann Marie Pace (Director)
- THE LAST OF THE CHUPACABRA: Jessica Mendez Siqueiros (Director)
- LET’S BE TIGERS: Stefanie Abel Horowitz (Director)
- THE LITTLE PRINCE(SS): Moxie Peng (Director)
As you start to read the interview, and watch the series, keep in mind that all the shorts are centered around the theme of discovery.
From the onset of the interview, Mahin said: “What you see on screen is emblematic of what happened off-screen and the culture of inclusivity and collaboration that they fostered behind the scenes. I’m very grateful to work with
these amazing filmmakers.”
She asserted how the Disney company is seriously committed to diversity. And that goes beyond Launchpad itself.
- “The Last Chupacabras” – Jessica: “The film was inspired by the fact that my great grandma might not have Chapa who is aptly badly characters named after, lived till she was 100 years old. She died five days after her 100th birthday. My family has always been very, very proudly Mexican, very proudly Mexican American family, and have always been indigenous to the land that we were from in Arizona originally……The way that we look at culture in this country can also be with such a perspective of fear, a perspective of losing our own culture for fear of celebrating somebody else’s.”
- “Dinner is Served” was inspired by director Hao Zheng’s experiences when he moved to the USA from China.
For Aqsa Altaf, it was watching her actress grow. At first she had expressed how when she grew up she wanted to be an actress. Then, Aqsa realized this girl was getting all the film terminology. In the end, her actress declared she wanted to be a director instead. To that Aqsa told her she could be both! More importantly, what resonated was: “That idea, this little girl was on set and watching filmmakers making films with so much passion. That’s something I didn’t get growing up. I didn’t have anybody to look up to. That just got me. so emotional, thinking about like, the generation now is going to have these dreams younger early on and its going to be a direct representation that they don’t have to put those blocks together like we did, where we didn’t ever saw ourselves and behind the scenes on camera in a big way. That was just very emotional. I just got so excited for the future”.
Learning from Mentors
Stefanie was able to work with Grant Curtis, from Marvel. For her, the biggest difficulty was grasping studio filmmaking since most of these Launchpad directors are just filming for and with friends. To that, Grant Curtis said it was rare air. Stephanie adds: “I think it was such good advice and such a reminder that so few people ever get to do something like this, and we are so lucky to have this opportunity. Yes, it’s difficult and it was a big learning process and also wonderful. I’m so grateful to it.”
Mahin explained that for this first season, there were over 1000 applications. Philip shared that applications for season 2 are now open. And, the intention is to expand beyond the 6 filmmakers as Launchpad aims to broaden the impact adding writers as a second track to the program.
Season One live-action short films from a new generation of dynamic storytellers. The goal of Disney’s “LAUNCHPAD” is to diversify the types of stories that are being told and to give access to those who have historically not had it. Inspired by life’s journey, these first six short films for Disney+ are based on the theme, “Discover.” All six short films will be available to stream on Disney+ beginning May 28.