The Animation Career Training Program graduates its second class, wins film festival awards, and announces Brainstorm Productions projects

Marlene Sharp is a creative and business-savvy entertainment multi-hyphenate who originally hails from New Orleans but is now a (San Fernando) Valley girl. Firmly ensconced in LA life, Marlene is top dawg at Pink Poodle Productions and Head of IP Strategy and Acquisitions for Rainshine Entertainment. Noteworthy clients and collaborators include,, ToonBo, Society Cabaret, Euramco Pictures, and The Center for Learning Unlimited/Brainstorm Productions. Prior to Pink Poodle and Rainshine, Marlene served as Director, Production at LEVEL-5 abby, home of YO-KAI WATCH and other Japanese hit video game-based franchises.

Formerly, as Producer, TV Series, at Sega of America, Marlene worked on much more than Teen Choice Award-nominated Cartoon Network series SONIC BOOM. For example, her extensive Hedgehog duties took her to the heights of nerd-dom as an official San Diego Comic-Con 2017 panelist. She also consulted on the 2020 Sonic the Hedgehog feature film.

As a freelance journalist, Marlene concentrates on pop culture for noteworthy fan destinations, such as, DOGTV,, and As a short film auteur, she has snagged recognition at La Femme Film Fest, Austin Comedy Film Festival, KIDS FIRST! Film Festival, Canine Film Festival, and San Luis Obispo Film Festival. Marlene is the proud winner of the 2019 LA Shorts International Film Fest Script Competition (an Oscar- and BAFTA-qualifying fest), at which her backdoor sitcom pilot received a staged reading courtesy of The Groundlings.

As a human being, basically, Marlene Sharp loves all kinds of pups. For proof, please see her website See also

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The The Center for Learning Unlimited, a non-public, WASC- accredited day school in Torrance, California, proudly celebrates the second graduating class of its animation career training program for neurodiverse adults. Alongside commencement, CLU announces the appointment of an entertainment industry advisory board, plus film festival honors, 3D printed collectible capabilities, and a robust project slate for sister animation studio Brainstorm Productions, which commemorates one year in full-time operation.

In addition to kindergarten – 12th grade special education, CLU maintains a highly regarded, 3-year animation curriculum for adults (ages 18+) on the autism spectrum. Summer 2022 marks the completion of intensive 2D and 3D studies for six neurodiverse CLU students.

The Graduates and Their Accomplishments

The CLU class of 2022 includes Kobe Aceves, Noemi Hernandez, Ramon Gonzalez, Brian Menjivar, Eric Thompson, and Joshua Jo. All are recently certified Autodesk Maya CGI software artists.

Each aforementioned apprentice auteur has a CV with crew positions on the short film ‘The Cursed Sketchbook,’ a 5-minute horror-comedy which enjoyed a March 2022 premiere at an invitation-only, big screen event in Rancho Palos Verdes. Graduates also have credits on the 2021 CLU short film ‘What To Do With Your Tabloid News,’ a lighthearted explainer video that employs origami, stop motion animation, and CGI to educate and entertain. ‘News’ – an official selection of the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge (in association with the Bentonville Film Festival) – won Best SUPER Short Film at the 2021 LOGIHQ International HAPPINESS Film Fest and was a finalist in the 2021 Los Angeles Animation Film Festival (LAAF).

Distinguished Administrators and Strategic Advisors

“CLU and Brainstorm Productions are comprised of the most devoted, original, imaginative, and inventive artists in show business!” says advisory committee member and heavy-hitting animation multi-hyphenate Walter Santucci. “I am proud to have served as consultant on ‘The Cursed Sketchbook.’ The crew did a magnificent job!”

United in enthusiasm on the pro-bono advisory board are accomplished veteran producers/directors/writers Kathleen Davison, Matty Rich, and Marlene Sharp. CLU and Brainstorm founder/executive director Ginny Erxleben and animation program coordinator Sylvia Owens complete the cabinet.

The Professional Animation Studio: Brainstorm Productions

Brainstorm Productions has a distinct mission: To be that bridge between school enrollment and paid roles within third party players, such as Disney, Netflix, Electronic Arts, and other entities large and small. Brainstorm Productions presents compensated job opportunities for those with CLU animation diplomas.

In the last year, and in addition to ‘The Cursed Sketchbook,’ Brainstorm has completed the official poster for New York-based Rock Autism’s ‘Setlist’ premiere at The Hotel Café in Hollywood, plus illustrations and animation for children’s book ‘The Secret Life of Sheba’ by Jane Kusch. Next up: ‘Willow’s Tale’ multi-media package – including two animated shorts and feline Willow in 3D printed form – for author Linda Malik! Look for the metaphorical Brainstorm thumbprint at Malik’s fall 2022 CatCon® booth in Pasadena. Please be on in-box alert for the new, monthly Brainstorm newsletter, featuring creative, business and educational updates.

Founder’s Message

CLU founder and executive director Virginia Erxleben, EdD, BCET is positively starry-eyed about prospects for the freshly-minted animation professionals. She says, “Brainstorm is a catapult for these unconventional content creators. We hope to engage with the entertainment industry on many fronts to provide meaningful employment inside an underserved community. Our students are too talented not to contribute to their chosen field! Let’s change the narrative from 85% unemployment to 85% employment within the neurodiverse population. Brainstorm Productions is a big step in that direction.”

About The Center for Learning Unlimited

Established in 2002, The Center for Learning Unlimited has a calling to reconnect complex young learners with their academic, social and emotional potential, thereby empowering them to engage as citizens of the 21st century. CLU serves both publicly and privately sponsored students with learning challenges in grades kindergarten through 12. This therapeutic educational environment is characterized by individualized teaching plans, an exceptional faculty, and year-round initiatives structured to meet the needs of students and their families. CLU also is home to a swiftly growing animation career training program for adults on the autism spectrum. As the CLU sister studio, Brainstorm Productions offers paid workplace experience for CLU animation alumni.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      To browse an interactive animation student art gallery with related news items, please visit the CLU/Brainstorm LinkedIn profile:

To view the full ‘What To Do With Your Tabloid News’ press kit, please see

To learn more about all CLU educational offerings, please see 

For press inquiries, please contact Marlene Sharp at

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