Catherine Winder is a digital media producer and executive. She is currently producing “Angry Birds” for Rovio Entertainment, an independent feature film based on the number one app of all time. Winder also runs her own media consulting business focused on business strategy, market integration of new technologies, project development and production.
Previously as President/Executive Producer, Rainmaker Entertainment, Winder oversaw all creative, and production operations of the studio in addition to producing the animated feature film, Escape from Planet Earth. As George Lucas’ producer, she was responsible for taking the Star Wars brand into animation, developing and producing the first animated Star Wars movie and highly rated television series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. To produce this project, she wrote the business plan and set-up LucasFilm Animation’s Marin and Singapore based studios. During her tenure at Fox Feature Animation, as Senior Vice President, Production, she was responsible for overseeing the production of the Oscar® nominated film Ice Age as well as completing Titan A.E. and ramping up Robots for production. For HBO Original Programming, she set-up a studio to produce various late night animated series.
She has consulted with most of the major content producers in North America including; Illumination Entertainment, DisneyToons Animation, The Sprout Channel, Hanna-Barbera/Turner Productions, HBO Original Programming, Warner Brothers and MTV. Winder co-authored the industry handbook “Producing Animation” for Focal Press. She also wrote and produced the award winning short film Luna featured in the book.
Zahra received her Masters at USC in Film Studies and was fortunate to land a position as an apprentice editor/runner at a commercial post-production house almost immediately. While picking up her boss’s laundry and juggling film reels (there was no Dropbox then), her father asked her, “if you were planning on picking up someone’s laundry, why did you need to get a degree at USC?” She assured her father that despite his extensive experience as an endocrinologist, working in the field of entertainment required learning on all steps of the ladder and this was the perfect starting spot. And indeed it was.
True to other Hollywood stories, one Friday morning Zahra was the first to open the office doors and put on a fresh pot of coffee for the team, and on the next Monday not only was she not a runner, but she had jumped up enough rungs on the ladder to be able to give her car keys to the valet. With that jump, Zahra joined the legendary Japanese animation studio Tokyo Movie Shinsha, serving as an art coordinator for 65 episodes of Bionic Six and then as the post-production coordinator for Visionaries. Zahra was incredibly lucky to work on Little Nemo with master artists such as Brian Froud, Corny Cole, Ken Anderson and Ken Mundie.
Forever passionate about animation and documentary, Zahra joined director Albert Magnoli and producer Alastair Bates to create a short film about Prince funded by Prince. Interviews with Eric Clapton, Miles Davis, Little Richard and George Clinton were going swimmingly until an honest Quincy Jones shared that Prince was over-saturating the airwaves. That comment brought the production to a screeching halt, but who could complain about having the opportunity to visit Paisley Park Studios and meeting the very seamstresses that created Prince’s wardrobe. Meeting Prince wasn’t bad either.
From Prince to Peter Pan and the Pirates, Zahra served as a production manager and then she joined Disney Television Production as an associate producer on Goof Troop. Next stop was feature animation work at Hanna-Barbera. Although Once Upon A Forest was a universal flop outside of France, she gained very valuable experience on what not to do as she navigated animation production in studios located in Spain, Argentina, Australia, Denmark and Taiwan.
Eager to learn about live action feature production, Zahra begged Joe Johnston to hire her as his assistant on Page Master. Seeing how live action production was structured provided Zahra with unique insight into how animated projects might be managed better through direct communication and more clear identification of the overall targets and the means to accomplish them.
Zahra found her dream job at Universal Cartoon Studios producing the Land Before Time sequels, not because she is crazy about dinosaurs (in fact, she’s not), but because she loved her crew. Surrounded by amazing talent, the crew was charged to create three feature length projects. All work was completed with pleasure, on time and on budget. Winning an Annie award for Land Before Time IV was just an added bonus.
From Universal Cartoon Studios to Warner Bros. Feature Animation, Zahra first started as a production manager and was later promoted to associate producer on Quest For Camelot. She also managed a small team to help Space Jam meet its production goals. Working at Warner Bros. Feature Animation was incredibly fulfilling because of all the extraordinary talent that was gathered there and the rest can best be understood through familiarity with the myth of Icarus.
The positives of all the negative experiences led Zahra to jump at the opportunity to collaborate with Catherine Winder when she proposed co-writing Producing Animation. There was no shortage of stories on how to avoid pitfalls, and the writing experience was highly cathartic. Working as an animation producer/consultant, Zahra has had the pleasure of working on a number of very exciting projects. Her most recent credit is as an executive producer on a documentary entitled Lady of Roses which captures the life of Shahin and Homayoun Sanati-zadeh, a couple that moved to a small village outside of Kerman, Iran and transformed the lives of the farmers by enabling them to switch from cultivating poppies (opium) to planting Damask Rose. Zahra Rosewater Company now delivers 5% of the world’s organic rose oil.
Zahra is eager to work on jobs that can bring about meaningful social change.