Jiri Trnka Studio's stop-motion animated series, Fireflies. © Kratky Film.

Kratky Film Restructures. Czech production and distribution company Kratky Film Praha a.s., which owns the Bratri v triku and Jiri Trnka animation studios, has been substantially restructured. The company has been struggling financially since 1994, and has been facing possible bankruptcy since 1997, a measure prevented by a recent investment from insurance company Ceska Pojistovna, now the majority shareholder in Kratky Film. The restructuring has also caused a management shake-out. At Kratky Film, Karel Hajek is the new general manager and CEO, replacing Jan Knoflicek; Jiri Porubsky is the new executive and financial director/COO, and Alexander Jerie is the new sales director, replacing Jiri Busek. John Riley, who was in charge of international sales, has also left Kratky Film. Prague Academy of Performing Arts animation professor Jiri Kubicek has replaced Jiri Sojak as head of the Bratri v Triku cartoon studio, and Michal Havlik has replaced Jiri Vanek as head of the Jiri Trnka puppet film studio. "I am very happy to realize that with all the changes in the company, there has also come an enormous enthusiasm from all employees," said general manager Karel Hajek. "I am sure that it will help us to manage the prospective problems which might still come." Kratky Film owns rights to hundreds of animated films it has produced or co-produced at Bratri v triku and Jiri Trnka animation studios since 1945, yet due to financial circumstances these films have hardly been distributed internationally. Now, with new investment capital, the company hopes to utilize the library, as well as to sell revived animated productions such as Zdenek Miller's cartoon series The Mole and the stop-motion Fireflies.

Hahn Expands Into Asia. Berlin, Germany-based animation studio, Hahn Film is launching production studios in Taiwan and Vietnam. Each studio will employ about 150 people, and will be devoted to digital ink and paint services, initially for Hahn projects, but may branch out to service other studios in the future. The first studio, called Saigon Graphics Enterprises, in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, is already up and running, working on the production of the animated series Wild Life, which is being distributed by Hit Entertainment and is pre-sold to the Fox Family Channel (U.S.), the BBC and Nickelodeon (U.K.). The second studio, in Taipei, Taiwan, is a joint partnership with local entrepreneurs, and will be called DigiMation. It will open for business in mid-November. Commenting on the expansion in the Hollywood Reporter [10/6-12/98], Hahn Film CEO and founder Gerd Hahn said, "I want to ensure better quality. If you go to a major animation studio (in Asia) that works for Saban or Disney, you get pushed around and the quality goes down. If I have my own studio, I can control the quality and I know who's working for me."

SAG Singing New Toon. A new three-year agreement between the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), representing voice-over performers working in television animation, and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), representing 108 television animation producers, has been approved by the Guild's National Board of Directors. The deal is a final version of one that was announced in August [AF 8/11/98], when it represented only 60 animation producers, and was still pending approval by SAG member performers. The contract gives voice-over performers immediate wage increases, starting with the basic session fee, up from $559 to $576. In addition, the residual formula payable for prime-time re-runs on Fox will immediately increase by 10% and then another 10% beginning the second year of the contract. The definition of an "interstitial bit" was expanded from 90 to 120 seconds, granting producers greater flexibility in the right to use excerpts in "generic" promos or in "re-caps." Animation studios represented in the deal include Disney, Warner Bros. and DreamWorks Television Animation. The deal has no impact on voice-over performers working in theatrical animation, as their work is covered by SAG's Basic Theatrical Agreement.

Toon Union Holds Elections. At its membership meeting on September 29, the Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists and Affiliated Optical Electronic and Graphic Arts, Local 839 IATSE re-elected the following officers, who were nominated without opposition: President: Tom Sito, Vice-President: George Sukara, Business Representative: Steve Hulett, Recording Secretary: Jeff Massie, Sergeant-At-Arms: Jan Browning. In addition, 17 nominations were received for 11 positions on Local 839's Executive Board, including eight incumbents (marked with a *): Román Arámbula, Bronwen Barry*, Ben Berkman, Dave Brain*, Pat Connolly-Sito*, Elena Cox, Martin Forte, Bob Foster, Warren Greenwood, Jim Hillin, Earl Kress*, Craig Littell-Herrick*, Greg Manwaring, Enrique May*, Karen Nugent, Ann Sullivan* and Stephan Zupkas*. Current Executive Board members Sheila Brown, Tom Ray and Dave Zaboski did not run for re-election. Ballots have been mailed to active Local 839 members in good standing, and were counted on October 24. The results will be announced on Local 839's information page.

For more information on the M.P.S.C. union, visit Animation World Magazine's July 1998 issue for president Tom Sito's article, "The Hollywood Animation Union (M.P.S.C. #839)."

Creative Capers Opens Digital Doorway. Glendale, California-based animation and development studio, Creative Capers Entertainment has partnered with Dallas, Texas-based content delivery system company, Rapture Technologies, to form a new company. The 50/50 joint venture, called Digital Doorway, will be based in Glendale and focus on production and marketing of interactive gaming, entertainment and educational titles for the PC, console, hand-held and online markets. Digital Doorway management will be headed by Creative Capers founders Sue Shakespeare (CEO), Terry Shakespeare and David Molina (both executive vice presidents of creative design), and Rapture Technologies founders Doug Gillespie (president) and Jeff English (vice president of research and development). Creative Capers, which has had an exclusive development deal with Disney since 1996 (They created the game-turned-cartoon series Nightmare Ned), is maintaining it's status as an independent studio. Creative Capers is currently working on game projects for Disney Interactive and co-producing two live-action TV series and a feature film with Jersey Films. Digital Doorway has not yet announced new projects.

Take a look back at Animation World Magazine's December 1996 issue to read Harvey Deneroff's article, "Visioneering: Interactive Animation at Creative Capers."

Note: Readers may contact any Animation World Magazine contributor by sending an e-mail to

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