Thursday, February 04, 2010

Animation Jobs In The Northwest

Oregon Business is hopeful of a bigger, better animation industry in Portland.

Laika chairman Phil Knight and CEO Travis Knight ... took bold risks on Coraline, financially and artistically, and their risks are being rewarded. The film has already grossed more than $120 million (twice what it cost to make) ...

The company employs 200 people, about half of whom work on animated commercials for the likes of McDonald’s, Tostitos salsa, M&Ms and Spam (that’s right, the canned meat product). Knight says Laika will add “hundreds” of jobs once production begins on the next full-length feature. ...

I've talked to artists who pulled up stakes in Los Angeles and journeyed to Portland to develop animated features for the new studio in the northwest. Several told me it didn't work out well for them, since there was a lot of disorganization. (Or as Oregon Business writes: ..." it’s been a challenging run for Laika as a business, with several mass layoffs, the slow and painful death of Jack and Ben’s Animated Adventure, and the abrupt departure of Coraline director Henry Selick last October.")

Despite the exit of Mr. Selick and the other setbacks, my hope is that Laika finds its footing and makes more features as good or better than Coraline. Laika now has a new CFO from DreamWorks Animation, an Oscar nomination, and fresh projects backstopped with truckloads of Nike money. So Laika certainly has a shot at future success.

The best outcome for the animation industry is to have another strong player in the feature business, providing longer term employment for artists, writers and technicians, giving Pixar and DreamWorks and Blue Sky runs for their money. I've got my fingers crossed it all works out.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Definitely good news, but to be clear--aren't Laika's future movies going to be stop motion, not cg?

If so, they're not really going after the same talent pool. But would certainly be good news for stop motion animators. It would be great if they could have a stable feature studio.

Steve Hulett said...

They would be going after the same story and visual development folks.

Frankly, I have no idea if they're doing CGI or stop motion.

Anonymous said...

That article doesn't mention Henry Selick at all! Should Coraline win the Oscar for best animated film, I sure hope they let Henry pick it up. That he produced the film should help!


That article reminds me of all the articles about the ex-Disney/ex-Dreamworks "executives" running studios (Warners, Sony, Fox, Turner) into confusion. Lickme (as employees call it) is a mess.

Anonymous said...

I used to live in Portland. Even for folks like me who like the rain, try 4-5 months of straight rain... it can really get to you. But, if you’re ok with it, best of luck. Clean air, friendly people, small town feel, and great skiing on Mt. Hood just a couple of hours away.

Anonymous said...

"Please don't be cynical. I hate cynicism – it's my least favorite quality and it doesn't lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen."

Anonymous said...

I know the great Tony Fucille and Lou Romano (former Pixar) are working there now.
They seem to attracting great artists.

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear they are still open. After all the waves of lay offs I thought they had closed.

Anonymous said...

The "Doom and Gloom" person here.
I usually rear my ugly head when I spout off about how I want the Disney CORPORATION (not animation itself) to fail.........but.........this time I WANT Laika to succeed.

See???? I"m not Doom and Gloom ALL the time!
Like Steve sez, they have the resources to actually have a shot at doing wonderful things and giving those other studios a run for their money....even though they may be unorganized...HAH! So are MOST of the studios out there. I KNOW for I have worked at most of them.

Whew!!! What a relief. Finally I'm happy.

Anonymous said...

Yay, Coraline. Yet another animated movie that scares kids and bores parents. Can't get enough of those!

Anonymous said...

"Yay, Coraline. Yet another animated movie that scares kids and bores parents. Can't get enough of those!"

Thanks you for posting this - until now I thought I was the only one who felt this way...

Anonymous said...

Fucile is not in-house, he worked freelance on one of the films. Just to be clear--

Floyd Norman said...

Scares kids?

Are you kidding? When I was a kid "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" scared the hell out of me.

Anonymous said...

Portland animation is a tough gig. No matter how you cut it, it's still a one horse animation town, and if you are looking for any leverage in your career at all, you still can't beat LA. But it's nice to see them moving forward. Hopefully they can pollinate more.

Steve Hulett said...

That article doesn't mention Henry Selick at all!

The piece states that Mr. Selick left last October. But that's the only mention.

Anonymous said...

Scares kids?!!?

Kids are supposed to get scared in movies, just as they are supposed to laugh. Its part of the experience.

How come you haven't figured this out?

yahweh said...

But parents aren't supposed to be confused or bored.

Anonymous said...

The only problem with Coraline is it wasn't terribly entertaining. I don't mind films about child abuse, but this one just didn't work. It's nice looking, but that's never enough, is it? I want to care about the characters.

Anonymous said...

The only problem with Coraline is it wasn't terribly entertaining. I don't mind films about child abuse, but this one just didn't work. It's nice looking, but that's never enough, is it? I want to care about the characters.

Complete fail. I disagree totally, nor was the film remotely about "child abuse." What the hell are you smoking?

Anonymous said...

they shouldn't make another coraline. way too dark to make any real money. beautiful work but not a crowd pleaser.

Anonymous said...

Yes, of course the film was about child abuse! DUH! A little girl gets pissed at her busy parents, and escapes to an alternate universe by FAKE nicer parents who begin to, and would further, abuse her.

It's been discussed in a lot of the reviews, as well.

I too, just wished I cared about the characters more.

T M said...

Being from Portland, I definitely feel there's potential there, but there needs to be more direct competition with Laika in order to make it a more robust professional environment. Anyone out there willing to take a risk and boot up a studio in rain city usa? No sales tax, relatively inexpensive (compared to LA) living expenses, and you don't have to pump your own gas!

Anonymous said...

"not a crowd pleaser."

Geez, could you craft a more intellectually bankrupt review of a movie? By your reasoning "Blade Runner" is a terrible mov- Wait.

Nevermind. I just realized you aren't worth talking to. It is a waste to even discuss our industry with someone who has no perspective on quality in film.

Anonymous said...

Yes, of course the film was about child abuse! DUH! A little girl gets pissed at her busy parents, and escapes to an alternate universe by FAKE nicer parents who begin to, and would further, abuse her.

You are truly...truly the stupidest person alive. I guarantee you are not a working professional in the industry. Can you even tie your shoelaces?

Is Pinnochio about "child abuse"? Cause the Fox and the Cat con him, and he turns into a donk...oh hell, you know what--it's really not worth spending 5 seconds on you. Because you really are that dumb.

Now I'm off to watch "Iron Giant", which is about child abuse, because Hogarth is tied up and interrogated by a government agent. CHILD ABUSE!!!

Anonymous said...

Yes, Coraline is about child abuse. It thankfully doesn't wear it on it's sleeve, but it's there. It's almost as if they wanted to deal with it in a subtle way, but lost some of the meat in being sometimes TOO subtle.

I think you need some basic literary history classes, and maybe a story and/or screenwriting course. A high school education might help first, though.

And I've been in the animation and film business for 25 years.

rufus said...

Abuse and neglet are two different things.

Coraline had some great moments, and some moments where I didn't know what the hell was happening. But I did find it enjoyable and interesting, and it pulled me into it's world. Which, does not happen often with animated films.

I also found the animation to be the best character animation from any studio in 2009.

rufus.

r said...

that should read "neglect"

darn.

r.

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