Runaway Spoon

Hooray for Hollywood: DC Enters Film Animation at Gallaudet

May 28, 2015

Animation development company Pigmental Studios will establish its new headquarters at Gallaudet University’s campus in Northeast, D.C. city officials and filmmakers announced on Thursday.  Pigmental is to start work on animated feature film and TV series in its new home this fall.

Gallaudet Provost Carol J.Erting & Pierre Bagley (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Gallaudet Provost Carol J.Erting & Pierre Bagley

“It’s okay to call us The Hollywood of The East,” said DC Mayor Muriel Bowser to open the news conference with Pigmental CEO and co-founder Marina Martins and Gallaudet’s Provost Carol J. Erting

Imaginative and colorful animated films with hit songs such as “Let It Go” is where a lot of the film industry seems to be going on TV and in movie theaters.  DC gets that. Not to be left frozen on the backstage steps as other cities take leading roles in digital  animated film production, the troupe of DC officials, Gallaudet leaders and LA executives revealed plans to put DC up on the billboards.


This will be Pigmental’s first venture into the nation’s capital's still nascent film industry.

Although the invitational event was billed as a news conference, in reality, it was a pep rally for filmmaking in DC.  Also, it was what the casting world calls a “looksee,” for potential moneyed investors who might yearn to get into the entertainment sector.

Aviva Kempner, Pierre Bagley & Marina Martins (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Aviva Kempner, Pierre Bagley & Marina Martins

“We look forward to working with Pigmental and Gallaudet to support their efforts to grow the District’s innovation economy,” said Mayor Bowser. ”By leveraging the District’s position as a hub for innovation and technology, we can improve the lives of District residents, create jobs, diversify our workforce, and grow a more sustainable creative economy.”

Pigmental  Studios is an independent entertainment company with “dedicated financing” for animated theatrical films and television series, says its website. ”Pigmental is currently active in international co-production projects in China, Korea and Spain.

“With an office in Los Angeles, Pigmental Studios is home to a corps of renowned animation artists and technologists who produce groundbreaking work in cooperation with international production partners.”

Among Pigmental’s current projects is KONG, which was announced at the Cannes Film Festival in May, 2014.  It is being produced as a Chinese co-production with producers Gary Zhang and JJ Kim of Aquamen Entertainment. 

Logo, Pigmental Studios (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Logo, Pigmental Studios

The first animated feature slated to be produced in the District will be a co-production with the creator of Despicable Me, Sergio Pablos, says Pigmental.

Pigmental’s first studio -- to open in a few weeks -- on the campus of Gallaudet University will be in the Appleby Building at 800 Florida Avenue NE, with an expansion planned for future development in a yet-to-be-built building on the 99-acre campus. JBG Cos is the development partner for the longer-term building project.

The District has agreed to issue a $250,000 grant to Pigmental to build out its new offices as part of D.C.’s tech fund incentives, according to the Washington Business Journal.

 “Today’s announcement shows the District’s commitment to attracting innovative companies to increase jobs and workforce development,” said Brian Kenner, deputy mayor for Planning and Economic Development.  “By offering new skills training for Gallaudet students and local residents, Pigmental will help us further diversify our economy.”  Pigmental will initially employ from 20 to 40 people.

The announcement of Pigmental’s new DC studio is part of Mayor Bowser’s “innoMAYtion” initiative to highlight innovation programs that engage residents and position the district as a hub of innovative activity.

Judith Terra (left), Marina Martins & Elizabeth Webster (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Judith Terra (left), Marina Martins & Elizabeth Webster

Martins said that Pigmental will create an academic program in animation design and programming for Gallaudet students as well as offer internship and training opportunities. Gallaudet, established in 1864, is the world’s only university with programs and services designed to accommodate deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

Helping to spearhead Pigmental’s move into town is film producer/director Pierre Bagley, former director of the District’s Office of Motion Picture and Television Development.   Also, among those several hundred attending were Angie M. Gates, director of the D.C. Office of Motion Picture and Television Development,  Elizabeth Webster, director of Business Outreach for At-large City Councilman Vincent Orange, American filmmaker Aviva Kempner, Sharon Pratt Kelly, former DC mayor; Marie Collins Johns, former deputy commissioner of the U.S. Small Business Administration, and arts and culture activist Judith F. Terra.

Click here to share your thoughts.

A Whale of an Event with Real Royalty

May 17, 2015

H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco took a day or two away from his royal twins to travel to Washington to personally receive a Peter Benchley Ocean Award at a ceremony that drew 300+ invited guests on Thursday night.

Sen. Ed Markey presenting Secretary of State John Kerry's award to undersecretary Catherine Novelli (Photo by: Jeffrey Dubinsky for the Peter Benchley Ocean Awards) Sen. Ed Markey presenting Secretary of State John Kerry's award to undersecretary Catherine Novelli

For his leadership to save the seas, Prince Albert was honored with the “Excellence in National Stewardship of the Ocean.”  The award was presented by Dr.  Enric Sala, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence and founder of The Pristine Seas project.

The Peter Benchley Ocean Awards, now in its 8th year, was founded by Wendy Benchley and David Helvarg, author and executive director of the Blue Frontier.

The world’s preeminent ocean honors are named after the late author of “Jaws” and lifelong marine conservationist Peter Benchley.

This time Jaws lives on with a touch of royalty.

Prince Albert had an especially busy week but was relaxed and affable during a full day of speaking activities discussing environmental subjects, first at the National Geographic, then in the evening going over to the Carnegie Institution for Science for the Benchley awards. The Prince  lingered at the VIP reception, which was packed with ocean advocates from Hawaii, British Columbia, Australia, California, North and South Carolina to Massachusetts, and the list goes on.

Monaco's Prince Albert II flanked by Dr. Sylvia Earle & Dr. Enric Sala (Photo by: Jeffrey Dubinsky for the Peter Benchley Ocean Awards) Monaco's Prince Albert II flanked by Dr. Sylvia Earle & Dr. Enric Sala

“The world needs your passion and your energy,” Prince Albert told the National Geographic audience.   Too often, he said, “we don’t put a street light at a crossing until there’s been an accident.  We don’t want to get to that point for the oceans.”

On Sunday, May 10, Prince Albert and his wife, Princess Charlene, baptized their 5-month-old twins in services in Monaco.

Still another top award recipient was Secretary of State John F. Kerry, honored for
Excellence in Policy.  Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts presented the award.  Kerry was in the air over one ocean or another at the time of the ceremony, Markey noted.  So, his award was accepted on his behalf by Catherine A. Novelli, Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and The Environment.

Dr. Enric Sala had a succinct way of how to save the oceans:

“Eat more vegetables!”


Click here to share your thoughts.

Peter Benchley Ocean Awards For Monaco's Prince Albert II & Sec. of State Kerry

May 7, 2015

HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco and U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry will receive top honors at the 2015 Peter Benchley Ocean Awards ceremony on Thursday May 14 at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington DC. The world’s preeminent ocean honors are named after the late author of “Jaws” and lifelong marine conservationist Peter Benchley.

The Awards program was co-founded by, Wendy Benchley, an ocean conservation and policy advocate, and David Helvarg, author and executive of Blue Frontier. Often referred to as the “Academy Awards" for the ocean, the Awards recognize excellence and achievement across a range of categories, including policy, science, media, youth and grassroots activism.

Wendy Benchley (Photo by: Jeff Dubinsky) Wendy Benchley

During the 8th annual awards ceremonies, HSH Prince Albert II will be presented with the Award for Excellence in National Stewardship.

In 2006, Prince Albert II established the Prince Albert II Foundation dedicated to protecting the environment.  In 2009, the Prince participated in a scientific journey to Antarctica to follow several polar expeditions.

“Prince Albert has played a vital role in supporting scientific research expeditions and high level collaborations around the important issues of overfishing and climate change,” said Mrs. Benchley. “He has advocated for protection of the high seas and promoted healthy ocean policies in many forums that influence decision-making on a global scale.”

Prince Albert II also will  participate in a leadership forum at the National Geographic headquarters on how the world’s oceans and waterways will look in 2050. Other distinguished panelists include: Dr. Sylvia Earle, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence; Admiral Peter Neffenger, Coast Guard Vice-Commandant, and Dr. Enric Sala, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence. The forum from 1:30 pm to 3 pm, is free and open to the public.

Secretary Kerry’s award will be for Excellence in Policy.  Due to official business, Kerry will not personally be in attendance but sent a formal letter of acceptance.

“Our ocean is in trouble. We have to summon global cooperation so that we can take the steps necessary to protect our ocean for generations to come,” Kerry has stated.

Secretary of State John Kerry (Photo by: State Department) Secretary of State John Kerry

David Helvarg said: “As Secretary of State, John Kerry has taken extraordinary steps to advance the global effort to end illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and to encourage the President and other world leaders to expand marine protected areas.”

The Peter Benchley Ocean Awards annual celebration is held biennially in Washington D.C. and San Francisco.

Award winners include:

·        Dr. Daniel Pauly for Excellence in Science; considered a science rock star, he is the founder of ‘Sea Around Us” project at the University of British Columbia.

·        The Economist for Excellence in Media. In recent years, The Economist has dedicated a significant amount of its news coverage to the growing and varied challenges facing the world's oceans. 

·        Nainoa Thompson for Excellence in Exploration; president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society.

·        Madison “Pip” Stewart, Christopher Benchley Youth Award; an activist since the age of 8, she has spent more than a decade protecting sharks in waters near her Australian home.  She is the subject of an award-winning Smithsonian documentary, “Shark Girl.”

·        Todd Miller, for “Hero of the Seas,” is founder of the North Carolina  Coastal Federation, which works to enhance the environment and economy of the state’s coastline.

·        Dana Beach, for “Hero of the Seas,” is founder of the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League which works to protect the state’s beaches, marshes, pine savannahs and marine wildlife.

David Helvarg (Photo by: David Helvarg

Winners are nominated by the ocean conservation community and chosen by the Benchley Awards Selection Committee, whose members include: Wendy Benchley; David Helvarg; Dr. Sylvia Earle, Mission Blue Founder and National Geographic Explorer-In-Residence; Dr. Nancy Knowlton, Smithsonian Institution; Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Marine Ecologist, former NOAA Administrator; Dr. Enric Sala, National Geographic Explorer-In-Residence; Dr. Greg Stone, Chief Ocean Scientist for Conservation International; and Jim Toomey, Syndicated Cartoonist and creator of ‘Sherman’s Lagoon.’

All media must apply for credentials.  Request media credentials at Please state your name, affiliation and contact information.   Phone:  202-797-7373; mobile 202-494-2490.

Additional information on the Peter Benchley Ocean Awards is available here.

Schedule of Peter Benchley Ocean Awards Events - May 14,  2015

1:30- 3:00pm: Ocean Leadership Forum

A leadership forum and panel discussion: “The Ocean in 2050” at National Geographic Grosvenor Auditorium,   featuring Prince Albert II, Enric Sala, National Geographic Explorer in Residence, and Vice Admiral Peter Neffenger. This free event is open to the public.  1145 17th Street NW, Washington DC 20036

A Blue Whale that will be erected near the US Capitol for the Blue Vision Summit (Photo by: The Blue Vision Summit) A Blue Whale that will be erected near the US Capitol for the Blue Vision Summit

5 pm - 6 pm: VIP Reception

VIP Reception at The Carnegie Institution for Science, 1530 P Street, NW, Washington DC. 20005. Media credentials required.

6 pm - 7:30 pm: 8th Annual Peter Benchley Ocean Awards Ceremony

The Awards ceremony will be held in the auditorium of the Carnegie Institution for Science. Media must apply for credentials.  

7:30- 10 pm: Peter Benchley Ocean Awards Dinner

The dinner celebration in the Carnegie Institution for Science, in the ballroom.  This is a ticketed dinner.  Media credentials required.

Blue Vision Summit- May 11-14 in Washington, DC

The Blue Vision Summit will be held in the days leading up to the Benchley Ocean awards. To draw attention to the Summit, there will be a big 90-foot inflatable blue whale (pictured here) set up near the U.S. Capitol.  The Summit is an established forum that has helped increase outreach to grassroots marine conservation groups, coastal communities, recreational ocean users, maritime workers, coastal tribes, public health advocates, marine science centers, elected officials and other potential constituents and allies. Contact: David Helvarg, 202-491-6296

Click here to share your thoughts.