Leslie Iwerks is an Academy Award® and Emmy® nominated director and producer who currently serves as the CEO and Creative Director of Iwerks & Co., a Santa Monica based multimedia production company.
Iwerks creates critically acclaimed and award-winning documentaries, features and series that celebrate the genius, risks, and rewards of creative visionaries, showcase heartfelt human tales from the depths of the Guatemalan garbage dumps to the toxic tar sands of Alberta, Canada, and other stories that document the human story of innovation and enterprise around the world.
On November 12th, 2019 Iwerks’ six-part docuseries, The Imagineering Story, debuted on the new Disney+ streaming service to positive reviews. The series traces the sixty-five year history of the artists and engineers who design and construct Disney’s theme parks and attractions. A five-year undertaking, the series lifts the veil on the behind the scenes magic at Disney worldwide properties, including Anaheim, Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong and the newly constructed Shanghai Disneyland. Narrated by Angela Bassett, The Imagineering Story shows rarely seen historical footage, as well as interviews with Bob Iger, Michael Eisner, Jane Goodall, James Cameron, Tony Baxter, Alice Davis, Joe Rohde, Rolly Crump and Bob Gurr, and many others.
League of Legends Origins, a feature documentary about the #1 online PC game in the world, also recently debuted on Netflix in October 2019. The film chronicles the unexpected cultural phenomenon and global growth of a game that mainstream society has never heard of - League of Legends, created by Riot Games. In less than a decade, a ragtag group of college gamers defied the odds and created a free-to-play game that has become a billion dollar industry. Given unprecedented access, Leslie followed gamers and the content creators around the world, documenting how this one game gave rise to a global community of players and fueled the popularity of esports, with League of Legends selling out 90,000 seat stadiums for its World Championships in Seoul, Korea.
Iwerks’ 2019 award winning short film Selling Lies goes deep inside the elusive business of online marketing schemes, with a focus on the hundreds of Macedonian teenagers who discovered a digital gold rush spreading fake political news on Facebook in 2016. This rare glimpse inside this secret network reveals the dramatic impact on the U.S. presidential election and looks at how digital disinformation is taking hold around the world. The film has won numerous awards, including best short documentary at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival, among others, and is currently screening at film festivals around the world.
Additionally, her documentary films and shorts include the 2006 Academy Award® nominated short Recycled Life, 2008 Emmy® Award nominated nonfiction special The Pixar Story (Starz), Ella Brennan: Commanding the Table (Netflix), Citizen Hearst (Bio Channel), Industrial: Creating the Impossible (Starz), Pipe Dreams, Downstream, Dirty Oil and The Hand Behind the Mouse-The Ub Iwerks Story. She also directed, wrote and executive produced Pixar’s 20th Anniversary Special for The Wonderful World of Disney, a three-hour television special hosted by John Ratzenberger that aired on ABC in 2006.
Her company, Iwerks & Co. has produced the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences annual Oscar Lifetime Achievement tributes shown at the Governors Awards including tributes for Jackie Chan, Debbie Reynolds, Hayao Miyazaki, Piero Tosi, Angela Lansbury and Lalo Schifrin. Iwerks has been sought after to create multiple filmmaker’s tributes for the Producers Guild Awards, The Visual Effects Society, the Annie Awards, BAFTA, among others.
Iwerks is a graduate of the USC School of Cinema-Television and currently serves on the USC School of Cinematic Arts Alumni Council. She is an active member of the Academy of Motion Picture Documentary Branch, the Producers Guild of America, the Television Academy, the International Documentary Association, and serves on the board of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences Scientific and Technical Council and is Chair of the 2020 SciTech Public Presentations Subcommittee.
In addition to overseeing current documentary productions at Iwerks & Co, Iwerks has a number of other projects in the development pipeline, including a new scripted series, several feature films and an animation project.