Meet our Judges

Meet our wonderful judges, they have been judging the entries since mid February.We saw a significant increase in entries this awards & would like to thank our judges for generously giving their time & helping us in our mission to celebrate the talent in the Irish Animation industry.The nominee shortlist will go live tomorrow.

Best of luck to all the entrants & thank you for supporting the Irish Animation Awards.


Jackie Edwards is head of BBC Children’s acquisitions and independent animation. Edwards has worked at BBC since 2008, overseeing titles such as ‘Octonauts’, ‘Bing’, ‘Hey Duggee’, ‘Rastamouse’, ‘What’s the Big Idea?’ and ‘The Clangers’.
Helen McAleer is the chief global development officer for the Walker Group, and MD of Walker Productions, tasked with leading a global team responsible for shaping the Walker Group companies (UK, US, and Aus/NZ) and their properties and products.

Best Animated Preschool Series (up to 6 years)

Jesse Cleverly (Wildseed Studios – ‘Counterfeit Cat’, ‘Pinky and Perky Show’). Jesse Cleverly is Creative Director at Wildseed Studios, a next generation entertainment company investing in new creators and new ideas; nurturing talent and creating fresh, exciting and original content for the digital age.

Camilla Deakin (Lupus Films – ‘The Hive’, ‘Toot the Tiny Tugboat’). Camilla co-founded Lupus Films in 2002 and has produced animation and live action films and series for the BBC, Channel 4, Five, ITV, Disney and Cartoon Network. Most recent projects include animated feature ‘Ethel & Ernest’ and half-hour special ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’

Kids Choice Award for Best Animated Series

The children of Caherleaheen School, Dingle, Co.Kerry.

Best Animated Short Film

Sarah Muller: Head of Children’s at Channel 5, Sarah Muller is a passionate advocate of UK children’s content and has developed a number of projects including ‘Danger Mouse’, ‘Strange Hill High’, ‘Harriet’s Army’, ‘Wolfblood’, ‘The Dumping Ground’ and ‘Just William’.

Gareth Lee: the manager of Animation Skillnet, which was set up in 2013 to provide subsidised training solutions for the animation, games and VFX sectors in Ireland. Gareth also works at Ballyfermot College of Further Education where he ran the Animation and Game Design degree programme for over 5 years. He currently runs the new VFX and 3D Technology programme at the college.

Best Writer for Preschool Animation (up to 6 years)

David Freedman: has written, directed, produced and executive produced extensively in animation. Recent credits include Series Director for ‘King Arthur’s Disasters’, and Disney Channel’s ‘Groove High’, English adaptations for Studio Ghibli including the Oscar nominated ‘When Marnie Was There’, ‘Only Yesterday’ and the 26 part Emmy Award winning, Amazon series, ‘Ronja the Robber’s Daughter’. Other produced feature work includes ‘Santa’s Apprentice II’ for Gaumont.

Mellie Buse: has written and developed a host of pre-school animated shows including ‘Angelina Ballerina’, ‘Fireman Sam’, ‘Little Robots’ and ‘The Magic Roundabout’.  She was Head Writer on Cbeebies ‘Guess With Jess’ and she script edited all series of the Bafta Winning ‘Charlie and Lola’.  Most recently Mellie co-created, wrote and produced the mixed content hit show ‘Grandpa in My Pocket’ for Cbeebies.

Best Writer for an Animated Series

Dan Berlinka: is a BAFTA-winning writer, director and producer. Recent credits include ‘Thunderbirds are Go’’ (ITV), ‘The Sparticle Mystery’ series 3 (Sparticle Productions/CBBC), ‘Shaun the Sheep’ (Aardman/CBBC), and ‘Hollyoaks’’ (Lime/C4), as well as being the head writer, producer and director of the BAFTA-winning online drama ‘Dixi’ (Kindle/CBBC).

Elaine McElroy: is a freelance Script Editor and Development Producer in animation. Credits include Animation Production Manager on two award winning series of ‘KNTV’, Script Editor on Emmy nominated comedy education series ‘Ask Lara’ and Script Editor on ‘Toot the Tiny Tugboat’. Previous roles also include Development Producer at Red Kite Animation and Animation Producer at Super Umami.

Best VFX as part of Animated TV Series or Film

Tom Flaherty: is a Lead Animator at Double Negative. After graduating from The Irish School of Animation (aka Ballyfermot Senior College) he moved to London to start his animation career. Over the past 20 years he has worked on 23 visual effects films, (including ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’, ‘Skyfall’, ‘Harry Potter’) Over 20 commercials, (including John Lewis’s ‘Monty the Penguin’) 2 short films (including ‘Beans’) 5 computer games and has also supervised the production of animated TV shows. He is currently finishing up DC’s ‘Wonder Woman’.

Darren Cranford: is the co-founder and creative director at Keyframe Digital Productions Inc, where he has directed a number of projects including ‘Ollie: The Boy Who Became What He Ate’, ‘Pinky Dinky Doo’ and award-winning special’”The Littlest Light on the Christmas Tree’,Darren has also directed and supervised VFX for multiple live-action productions including ‘Warehouse 13’ for NBC/Universal, and Showcase’s successful ‘Lost Girl’ series

Best Animation for Apps and Gaming

Jim Jagger (Rockstar Games) is an Animation Director in the video game industry. During his career he has been part of many projects, including titles such as ‘Grand Theft Auto’ and ‘Tony Hawk Pro Skater’.

Andrew Pearce : Executive Producer for Flaunt Productions, Andrew Pearce creates high-end CG animation for features, broadcast, games and commercials. From Flash idents to photoreal CGI epics, Andrew’s most notable work includes the viral trailer for’ Dead Island’, (which picked up a Gold Lion at Cannes) and an action and comedy filled trailer for ‘Age of Empires Online’.

Best Design / Art Direction

Stephen Silver worked as a Character Designer and Supervisor for Disney Television Animation, Sony Feature Animation and Nickelodeon Animation, designing characters for ‘Kim Possible’, ‘Danny Phantom’ and Kevin Smith’s ‘Clerks’ the animated series, and many more

Curtis Jobling is the designer of BAFTA-winning ‘Bob the Builder’, as well as creator of hit BBC shows ‘Frankenstein’s Cat’ and ‘Raa Raa the Noisy Lion’. He is also the author/illustrator of numerous books for children of all ages.

Best Director of an Animated TV Series

David Burgess is currently the Animation Supervisor on ‘The Lego Movie 2’ at Animal Logic, Vancouver. He was also Head of Character Animation at Dreamworks, where during the past 15 years, he worked on a number of features including ‘Trolls’, ‘Turbo’ and ‘Monsters Vs Aliens’. Previously, across 10 years at Disney Feature Animation, David worked on a number of hand drawn films such as ‘Tarzan’, ‘The Lion King’ and ‘Aladdin’

Mark Walsh: CEO of and with 18 years at Pixar, Mark A. Walsh is the Writer-Director of short film ‘Partysaurus Rex’ and was Animation Lead on Academy Award winning films ‘Finding Nemo’ and ‘Ratatouille’. Mark has also contributed to ‘The Incredibles’, ‘Monsters Inc’, ‘Toy Story 2’, ‘Toy Story 3’, ‘A Bug’s Life’, ‘Up’, ‘Presto’, & ‘The Good Dinosaur’.

Best Animation

Erica Derby has worked in the animation industry for 30 years, as an artist and as a producer. Erica co-owns and runs her own studio, Spider Eye, and has developed and produced many series and films for the BBC, Disney, Cartoon Network and CITV among others.

Leanne Passafonti is a Development and Production Executive with 10+ years’ industry experience spanning Nickelodeon, Red Kite Animation and Bright Box Creative. Leanne has worked on a broad range of global kids’ content, including the hit live action show House of Anubis, George of the Jungle and Ella Bella Bingo. Most recently, she developed, script edited and wrote scripts for preschool series Emmy & GooRoo and has developed several animated projects for Chinese broadcasters CCTV and Toonmax Media. Leanne is now based full-time in LA.

Best Music/Sound Design

Mick Cooke is a BAFTA-winning composer and songwriter. He was a member of Belle & Sebastian for fifteen years and worked as composer on the animated preschool series ‘Zack & Quack’ (Nick Jr) and ‘Boj’ (CBeebies).

John Cobban is a sound designer and dubbing mixer working in film, television and animation. Has worked on numerous Bafta winning and nominated films.  credits include ‘EVE’, ‘OOglie’s, ‘Monkey Love Experiments’, ‘Hedz’, Murder series, ‘Two doors Down’. He has won 2x Royal Television Society Awards for Sound.

Best Irish Feature Film or Special

Sebastien Laudenbach is a Filmmaker and Director who has completed 7 short films including ‘Diary’ (awarded in Clermont-Ferrand in 1999), ‘Hugs in the kitchen’ (pre-selected for César 2004) and ‘Vasco’ (Semaine de la Critique – Cannes 2011). ‘The Girl Without Hands’ (‘La Jeune fille sans mains’) marks his feature

Karen Vermeulen has worked for 15 + years in the distribution & co-production of kids animation and live-action series, at companies such as National Geographic Kids, Disney, Zodiak Kids and now American Greetings Entertainment. Credits include ‘Zack & Quack’ on Nick Jr, ‘Floogals’ on Sprout, ‘Fort Boyard’ on Disney Channel, and most recently ‘Buddy Thunderstruck’ launching on Netflix 10th March 2017.
Thank you so much to our judges for all their hardwork!
An extra special thank you to Jackie Edwards, Helen McAleer, Sarah Muller, Mellie Buse & Curtis Jobling who have returned as judges for the second year, your support of the awards are really appreciated.
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