Starz are the Limit: The Word on the Growing Studio
HK: We are always working on a short at the studio! Isn’t that great? The artists get together and pitch each other ideas and select one that then is completed at the studio. The studio brass doesn’t have creative involvement -- it is all left up to the artists. Our latest completed one is Enter The Sandbox. Think of a classic Bruce Lee kung fu movie, but this one is set in a sandbox, with toddlers. It has already been accepted at a number of festivals -- it will be at Ottawa -- has received several awards and was directed by 9’s art director, Kevin Adams. The one in production right now is called Ormie and is about a little pig trying to get some cookies. Very cartoony and fun.
RD: Are there any more features in the works?
HK: We are bidding on a number of different projects right now and some look very promising. We are also solidifying our own slate of new projects but it is all a little too soon to announce anything. We are looking forward to seeing what opportunities the release of 9 produces. And I have to say the last few weeks have been really great. There has been a lot of interest from people we are reaching out to and a lot of neat projects being mentioned.
RD: What can you tell us about the Christmas special Starz is working on?
HK: We’re not able to say much yet, but it’s a classic holiday tale that is bound to be one of those half hours that gets shown every year on the networks.
RD: What's the future of direct-to-DVD at the company?
HK: I know all the talk is that DVD sales are slumping, but I think DVD still has an important role to play. It can expand franchises and keep properties, famous characters, alive, especially as broadcast slots become harder and harder to obtain. I think this space will change, but it isn’t going to go away. We are predominately concentrating on features and DVD long forms.
RD: Are you open to working on other things?
HK: Yes, of course! Television and commercials… we are also going to be expanding more into animation over live-action plates, too.
RD: What types of projects are you looking for?
HK: We are just, as I said at the top, looking for cool interesting projects that don’t feel like what everybody else in animation is producing, but that we believe wide audiences will take to. It is fantastic to have the freedom we have. For us it is all about identifying projects we feel have legs somewhere in the market and then moving forward. How we move forward, which funding model we use, what partners we select, what form it takes -- feature, DVD, television -- is all open. We would love to find more exciting projects for outside producers -- like 9 -- where our studio can deliver producers with a level of quality at a price-point they just can’t get anywhere else. And then, when it comes to proprietary work, we are looking for projects that have strong partners attached. In this economy it is much easier to band together and assume risk together.
RD: How do you feel the economic recession has affected the animation industry? Starz?