A series of short films in live action, Disney Launchpad allows a new generation of talents to make their voices heard. AlloCiné spoke with these young creatives whose works are available on Disney +.
A collection of six short films, Disney Launchpad is a formidable Disney + initiative to give the new generation the opportunity to make their voices heard by telling their stories and their artistic point of view.
Available today on the platform, the series includes the following shorts: “A Vampire’s Secret” by Ann Marie Pace, “American Eid” by Aqsa Altaf, “Dinner is Served” by Hao Zheng, “Small ( e) Prince (sse) “by Moxi Peng,” The Last Chupacabra “by Jessica Mendez Siqueiros and” Avalon “by Stefanie Abel Horowitz.
AlloCiné: What were you looking to explore, to express with your short films?
Ann Marie Pace: I wanted to tell the story of a young girl who is half human, half vampire. The idea came to me because I’m Mexican-American and bisexual. For a long time, during my youth, I felt bad about myself. I wanted to explore what it feels like to have multiple identities. It should give you extra “strength”, not fracture you. I think I made this film to honor and celebrate all the identities that young people can have today.
Aqsa Altaf: I’m so happy to be part of this collection of short films initiated by Disney because it allows us to celebrate a whole new generation of filmmakers from different backgrounds. My parents are from Pakistan and Sri Lanka and I come from a Muslim family. The film is about tolerance, going beyond our differences and accepting the other. It is also a different vision of immigration where it is not a question of “assimilation” but where it is a question of sharing. Where the two cultures, mine and the American, have their place, to live together and to share their traditions.
Hao Zheng: Personally, I wanted to talk about the joys and difficulties that one encounters when one is an immigrant. I think this is a very important subject, at the moment, with all the mixing of people around the world. In the end, this film shows how hard it is to keep your own identity and not accept losing it, despite the pressure. It’s a great lesson in courage.
The goal was to give a cinematographic voice to filmmakers from different backgrounds and cultures who did not necessarily have the opportunity to direct the stories that are close to their hearts.
Moxi Peng: It was truly a miracle to land in this collection when I had just finished my film school. For me, it was important to tell the story of this gay, non-binary little boy and his struggles to overcome his difference, especially with his father. I wanted to show that we can learn from each other, because of their differences. It’s important for me to remember that we have a real trans and queer community and that we have so much to offer to others.
Stefanie Abel Horowitz: The inspiration for my short was my grandfather when he was 100 years old. I was also inspired by my years as a babysitter and this adorable 4 year old boy who I was trying to talk to about the notion of “death”. I think this is a delicate subject in our western culture and it seemed important to me to talk about it, especially to children.
Mahin Ibrahim (showrunner and producer): For us, the goal was to give a cinematic voice to filmmakers from different backgrounds and cultures who did not necessarily have the opportunity to direct the stories that are important to them.
You must have turned in the middle of a pandemic. What were the challenges that you were forced to overcome?
Beth D’Amato (Special Effects Supervisor): We had a mountain of challenges making the special effects for “A Vampire’s Secret”. We had a super tight schedule and budget. Fortunately, we had as partner ILM, the former company of George Lucas, who has worked on so many legendary films.
Ann Marie Pace: It’s true that the pandemic slowed us down a bit with a strict health protocol. But Disney gave us a little more time. In addition, we had a few scenes with several extras and therefore it was not always easy to keep the barrier gestures during these moments. We had to orient the filming angles in a certain way in order to give the impression that there were more people than in reality.
Aqsa Altaf: This pandemic has really bothered us a lot! Especially since I had to work with a lot of very young actors who do not always realize the dangers of such a situation. I always ran out of time to shoot whatever I wanted to shoot. It was dizzying logistics.
It is important to educate young people as early as possible, so that they can truly appreciate the other cultures around them and in order to create bridges of communication between these cultures.
Why is a collection like Disney Launchpad necessary today in such a tense world?
Aqsa Altaf: Yes, it is important, especially at the moment. I think this series allows all of us to “humanize” us a little more in order to bring us closer to each other and to understand that more and more we are forming a unique Humanity and we share the same planet. I think that with the next generations we will see profound changes on the planet, I really believe in the peace of Humanity.
Siddhartha Khosla (composer): I agree with Aqsa. It is important to educate young people as early as possible, so that they can truly appreciate the other cultures around them and in order to create bridges of communication between these cultures. I think that bringing people from different cultures together can become a natural thing if we do it in time and when we have not yet fallen into the trap of racism and difference.
Moxi Peng: For me it’s important to support the entire trans, queer and gay community so that they don’t feel alone and their voices are represented. The timing is perfect for this collection of emotional little gems.
Stefanie Abel Horowitz: I believe that many young people feel lonely, especially after this year of the pandemic and I hope that our collection will show them that we are never alone in life and that we share the same sorrows anyway. .
Phillip Domfesh (producer and showrunner): Now is the right time for this collection. All of these filmmakers offered an honest and realistic take on who they are and what they can offer as artists. I am so proud of this collection of films and more will follow soon. It really is a precious and important initiative, it is almost revolutionary.