Spire Animation Studios, the newly formed feature animation studio co-founded by award-winning producer Brad Lewis (“Ratatouille”) and industry entrepreneur P.J. Gunsagar has tapped animation pioneers from Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks and Blue Sky Studios to join its team.
Among the creative team are Shawn Krause, Creative Director of Animation and Story, Michael Surrey, Creative Director, Story and Animation, Ted Mathot, Creative Director of Development and Karen Disher, Creative Director of Development.
Lewis said, “We have been trying to get a team together from a variety of places where I’ve worked with to do something creatively special.” He adds, “What gets me up in the morning is ‘let’s do something with a team that is really enthusiastic and behind it.’”
Spire Animation hopes to spearhead original and culturally relevant stories that resonate with audiences worldwide, rather than offer reboots. For Lewis, that means partnering with both best-in-class talent and emerging creatives to tell those stories.
Gunsagar understands the “playing it safe” pull in animation and movies. “The idea is to reset that a bit and breakthrough with more innovative ways to tell stories and what a next-generation studio could look like, without all of the encumbrances of legacy infrastructure.”
Together the team has been utilizing the cloud workflow, more so in the pandemic, and empowering talent from around the world. It is shaking up the status quo by producing animated movies more seamlessly and leaner with its proprietary, real-time workflow platform built on a popular, state-of-the-art game engine. Gunsagar says, “Brad came from worlds where everyone was under one roof and that’s how some of the best studios have been built, but now, it’s about empowering this global workforce and coming up with new patterns around that.”
Krause who worked on “Inside Out” added, “Spire is an opportunity for me to take the best of what I learned about filmmaking at Pixar and adapt it to cutting edge technology. It’s a chance to get back to being a leaner, scrappier team of artists which is something I miss. We are building a new way of collaborating from the ground up.”
Added Disher, “I met Brad a few years ago and admired his vision and positive energy. I was thrilled when he invited me to be part of Spire – it’s a rare and special opportunity to help build a new studio from the ground up. Our team has years of experience at the big studios to draw on, but now we can be more nimble and push beyond the usual way of doing things, find new and surprising ways to tell stories.”
Best of Variety