Exceptional Minds is uniquely positioned in that pivot between contributing to content for major studios and creating original content for those studios and other platforms. As we continue to cultivate a diverse talent pool of notable creators and storytellers, it is critical that this growing group harness every opportunity to explore their voices and skills.
From Disney+ and TikTok to IGTV and YouTube; with endless streaming, binge-watching and yes, tuning in to old school “linear television,” we’re seeing creative diversity in the deepest and broadest sense. And with that comes new career opportunities for our visual artists on the autism spectrum.
Original content is high on our list of priorities as is game design and development. As we continue to leverage what we’ve learned from the creative masters in Hollywood, we are migrating that learning to new platforms and outlets.
Creative diversity is at the very heart of Exceptional Minds and it has greatly evolved at our studio and school over the years. Let us not forget trailblazing series like HBO’s Game of Thrones, groundbreaking event films like Marvel’s Black Panther, and new voices like Netflix’s Atypical: just three of the 350+ shows that Exceptional Minds artists worked on since 2014. Each explore very diverse worlds and themes and hep to inform the creative choices and chances our artists are increasingly taking.
|Shot clean-up on HBO’s “Game of Thrones” by Exceptional Minds
Those masters of creativity: Disney, Marvel Studios, HBO, Netflix, Cartoon Network, and Nickelodeon, to name a few, were among the first to recognize the stellar contributions of our talented artists by putting them to work! And on many different kinds of projects!
They believe in us not only because our artists are talented, but because our artists are creatively authentic. Since having worked on countless A-list films and series learning many tricks of the trade, our artists are now able to contribute at whole new technical levels. They also bring to the table perspectives and a view of the world all their own.
For example, when the creators of Netflix’s Atypical wanted to convey a specific character perspective, they looked to our animators on the spectrum to bring it to life. The resulting animated sequence captures the essence of how the lead character Sam feels as he’s leaning up against his locker in isolation and fear while students rush the halls between classes. It’s an experience that is both universally understood by so many and yet so authentic to the autism experience.
|Still from Netflix’s Atypical animation sequence by Exceptional Minds
That authenticity is very much a part of Exceptional Minds as we continue to work on new projects for Netflix, Marvel, Sesame Workshop, and others.
And it is increasingly finding its way across other creative platforms, as well.
Consider Exceptional Minds third-year student Nick Dodge and graduate Jacob Lenard who have a combined following of over 150K YouTube subscribers on their respective channels. Nick’s love of Anime, dinosaurs, and original content and Jacob’s latest original series launch of “Loose Ends” has in total, drawn 150 million views.
Jacob Lenard’s “Loose Ends: The Screaming Service”
In fact, Jacob one of our many talented animators, in the Exceptional Minds studio, has produced, under his “Lenstar Productions” banner, more than 245 original cartoons. At the same time, he has also worked on original creative for Sesame Street, Special Olympics, and countless other EM partner projects.
Theirs are just a few of the new and offbeat voices in the growing subscriber economy, where Netflix and Disney+ are gathering up subscribers, hungry for new stories and characters, by the tens of millions.
Meanwhile, as gaming apps continue their meteoric rise and the video gaming industry converges with film and TV production, Exceptional Minds 3D and 2D artists are bringing their fresh brand of creativity here as well. Our artists Trevor Wallace, Russell Sayre, and Kenneth McLeod are just about to release new gaming apps based on a program development grant from Epic Games. They will also soon be applying their game engine expertise to new projects from our studio partners.
From an animation commissioned by National Geographic in the case of 2018 graduate Stephen Storti, to using those artistic skills in the family business, as is in the case of 2016 graduate Tiana Fazio and her family’s film cell restoration business, the creative opportunities are limitless.
|Graduate artist Tiana working from home during the pandemic
As content continues to find its way into all aspects of our lives, Exceptional Minds grads are well prepared to be a part of that expanding creative universe.
We can’t wait to see what they create!