World Autism Month at DNEG


We were honoured to welcome graduates and musicians from Exceptional Minds and Spectrum Labs to our panel discussion for World Autism Month!

World Autism Month highlights the need to help improve the quality of life of those with autism so they can lead full and meaningful lives as an integral part of society.

Joining us from two organizations that work towards building a more empowered and inclusive society for neurodivergent individuals, our guests David Miles (Digital Animator, VFX, and Motion Graphics Artist, Exceptional Minds), Jacob Lenard (Animated Content Creator, Exceptional Minds), Jon Clark (Producer, Exceptional Minds), Scott Sackett (Animation Director, Exceptional Minds), Garth Herberg (Co-Founder, Head of Music Programs, Spectrum Labs) and Spencer Griffin (Musician, Spectrum Labs) discussed their experiences working in animation and visual effects.

“There’s a phrase within the autism community that I hope everybody takes away, and that’s the idea of presumed competence,” said David Miles. “There are jobs that people on the spectrum can do and we have proven we are capable of doing them at a level that is the same as anyone else out there in the industry.”

The panellists also shared their award-winning project with Sesame Street, Backyard Camping. As part of Sesame Street’s ‘Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children’ initiative, the story features Julia, a 4-year-old Sesame Street Muppet with autism, as she learns how to handle her fear of the dark. She overcomes her fears through drawing as a coping skill that she then shares with her brother. The positive interactions between Julia’s family shows the importance of autism acceptance.

The video was written, produced, and animated by Exceptional Minds’ team of artists on the autism spectrum. Watch it below!

In addition to their partnership with Sesame Street, Exceptional Minds has also worked on projects with other studios, including Marvel and Disney.

Exceptional Minds is a California-based, non-profit academy and studio preparing young adults on the autism spectrum for careers in animation, visual effects, and beyond. The music score was done by Spectrum Labs, a Los Angeles-based organisation dedicated to empowering and educating artists on the autism spectrum in acting, film, music and animation.

Jon Clark, a Producer at Exceptional Minds, said, “We work with artists and we love doing it. That’s who they are first and foremost and they just so happen to have autism.”

Thank you so much to our panellists! We were grateful to hear their stories and inspiring career journeys in visual effects, animation, film, music, and entertainment.

To find out more about Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at DNEG, and our commitment to creating a safe and inclusive workplace where we invest in continuous improvement and allyship, click here.




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