The producers behind Disney’s Launchpad shorts from a diverse group of filmmakers talk about shaping a new generation of filmmakers.
Disney ushers in a new generation of young filmmakers with Launchpad, a series of short films that highlight the diverse stories that form the backbone of America in the 21st century. The six shorts explore topics such as pain, sexuality, and racial identity in a genuinely candid way, but still acceptable to the general public who may not be aware of some of these issues.
The Launchpad program was founded with the goal of bringing Disney’s big-budget treatment to young filmmakers from underrepresented communities, and those production values are fully showcased with animated production design, large musical tapestries, and professional actors featuring film performances. Likewise, Disney’s branding and family-friendly content make it a great entry point for viewers looking to dive into more complex and mature topics.
While promoting the release of the Disney Launchpad films, Mahin Ibrahim and Phillip Domfeh spoke with Screen Rant about the development of the show. Ibrahim serves as Disney’s Director of Diversity and Inclusion, while Domfeh is the Senior Manager of the film initiative. Together, they talk about their role in guiding this new generation of filmmakers and Disney’s role in making sure the films are as polished and insightful as possible.
Disney’s Launchpad movies can be streamed on Disney +.
Phillip Domfeh: Hello!
Mahin Ibrahim: Hi Zak!
I had a great evening last night. And great nights are rare. But I have to see all six episodes, or shorts, I should say, and … You don’t need me to tell you that you made it. Bringing together this incredible group of filmmakers, young people who will be the next generation. It’s like the old stories about Brian DePalma and George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese, that gang. I say, “Maybe this is it!” I dont know! Tell me about the Avengers short film montage.
Mahin Ibrahim: Thank you Zak for those kind words, it means a lot, thank you. So I think our filmmakers really talk, themselves, about the experience of creating a family and a family bond from day one. So we’ve seen it, and we’ve done what we can do to develop that and prosper. I love what you say about the rat pack of 2021. That’s really cool. One thing we have learned through this process, part of the program is our educational curriculum, led by AFI and others. One of our instructors, Tessa Blake, had shared that on her own shows, so we really leaned on a lot of other shows that really created and paved the way for shows like Launchpad to exist. At the AFI Women’s Directors Workshop, they really wanted to survive in this tough industry through community, so I think you did it, Zak. That’s what really helped some of those filmmakers that we grew up watching and seeing flourish; they had their own community. I love what you said, that’s great.
I love that the community is united, not because of being in some kind of ethnic or religious connection, but simply because of the love for movies and for telling stories. I feel like it means so much more to me personally. Did they shoot at the same time with the same equipment? Tell me what kinds of intersections they had while developing their ideas.
Mahin Ibrahim: It was a bit of a hybrid of both. They got to talk about some of the dream collaborators they would love to work with. For example, Aqsa’s dream was to work with Siddhartha Khosla, the songwriter, the Emmy award-winning songwriter for This Is Us. And Disney Music made that happen. So it’s a bit of both. We were also very lucky to work with people from our sound department on the six running shorts, as well as Lynn Ollie, our costume designer, who worked on several. It really was a mix of meeting the unique needs of each production, so we created a series / feature hybrid model with Launchpad.
It looks awesome. They are short, but the production values go hand in hand with anything else on the net or Disney +.
Phillip Domfeh: Thank you very much Zak. I’d say I think a big part of the beauty of this show is that Disney has really been behind these filmmakers. To the extent you’re doing, these movies have a look and feel, scale and excellence that you would expect from Disney. That these young filmmakers can operate and demonstrate and display their ability and voice at this level is truly unique.
Thanks for everything! It’s so … One of my favorite things about living in America is that it’s such a flexible and growing place, and I think you can see that on Disney and on Disney + content. I sound like a commercial, but I mean it, where is it … Not to speak out of turn, but Disney has sometimes been seen as boxy, and seeing them step up like this, with these shorts, is awesome, and it’s going to mean a lot to a lot of people, I know.
Phillip Domfeh: We really couldn’t be more proud. And it means a lot that the movies connected with you, so thank you.
Next: 10 Non-Marvel Movies Coming To Disney + In 2021
Disney Launchpad Movies can be streamed on Disney +.
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