There are few small, independent* cartoon studios around Los Angeles these days, and of the big independents, there is exactly one: DreamWorks Animation, specializing in theatrical blockbusters.
Today, if you're an "independent," you are most likely a for-hire studio that provides services for one of our fine, entertainment conglomerates. Think of Starz Media/Film Roman, think of Rough Draft.
Yesterday I visited a little studio that falls into a slightly different niche ...
Sabella-Dern Entertainment has been around for a half-dozen years. S-D was launched after Paul Sabella and Jonathan Dern departed MGM Animation after a lengthy run and set up their own shop.
SDE is headquartered in the West Valley, where Warner Bros. used to shoot its Westerns and cavalry pictures, back in those halcyon days when the San Fernando Valley was a collection of orchards and truck farms ... before the heavy asphalt-covered hand of urbanization reached out from Los Angeles.
Today, Sabella-Dern has a fair amount of production. The company is doing three Care Bears direct-to-video features, a My Little Poiny direct-to-video, and sixty-six episodes of the PBS series Angelina Ballerina. They also have another project they hope will soon be in production.
A lot of S-D's creative work is done off-site, but the studio is planning a move to a larger location where more artistic staff can work in-house.
* I here define "independent" as a stand-alone cartoon company that creates and owns its product.
Before the Feds allowed the entertainment business to become vertically integrated, there were several of these, with Hanna-Barbera being the most prominent and successful example in the teevee age. Now, of course, they don't exist.