Category: skydance media

I believe in second chances, and I believe we …

I believe in second chances, and I believe we should push the dialogue forward, but this is challenging for anyone, not just women.

Ousted Pixar Chief John Lasseter Hired by Skyd…

Ousted Pixar Chief John Lasseter Hired by Skydance Animation:

“We have not entered into this decision lightly,” Skydance Media CEO David Ellison informed his employees — and therefore, the press — about the decision on January 9, 2019, to hire disgraced Pixar head John Lasseter to fill the animation group president position that was not currently vacant. 

When Skydance announced its plan to move beyond its video games and live-action productions and into animated features in October 2017, the production company tapped DreamWorks Animation veteran Bill Damaschke. No news of Damaschke’s plans to leave have been announced except what Ellison explained today as part of the bigger (more controversial) announcement. 

“Bill Damaschke will be transitioning from his current role, and we are hopeful he will choose to remain within the Skydance family.”

The memo, which can be read in full here, mentions the “extensive investigation” and careful evaluation of Lasseter’s previous conduct, which I imagine includes not just a record of what complaints he received before his forced sabbatical and departure from Disney-Pixar but also of how much money ($11 billion box office for Pixar alone) and fame he raked in for the group during his tenure… That is, after all, how businesses make money. 

It seems Skydance chooses to risk what Disney-Pixar cannot, to give a “second” chance to the “storyteller” whose “art transcends generations and cultures” as the group tries to get their animation division off the ground.

I would like to see them also focusing on making the animation industry a safer place for victims of “inappropriate conduct” and other euphemisms of harassment. 

While reports of Lasseter’s conduct were certainly enough to have family companies like Disney showing him the door, no news of legal action has been reported, so it’s hard to say what the extent of Lasseter’s “misconduct” entails. Skydance reports that they investigated Lasseter as well, and they’re taking a chance on his attempts in the past year to “address and reform” his mistakes. 

It may pay off. I desperately want it to go well, for the rest of the employees’ sakes.

According to Deadline, Lasseter also laid out his wishes for a brighter future at Skydance:

“I have spent the last year away from the industry in deep reflection, learning how my actions unintentionally made colleagues uncomfortable, which I deeply regret and apologize for. It has been humbling, but I believe it will make me a better leader.

“I join Skydance with the same enthusiasm that drove me to help build Pixar, with a firm desire to tell original and diverse stories for audiences everywhere. With what I have learned and how I have grown in the past year, I am resolute in my commitment to build an animation studio upon a foundation of quality, safety, trust and mutual respect.”

Lasseter begins work in the Los Angeles office later this month. Skydance Animation’s films “Luck,” “Split” and “Powerless” are still in pre-production.

– Courtney (harmonicacave)

Skydance Media signs “Tangled” director for “P…

Nathan Greno, the director of Disney’s Tangled, has agreed to a multiyear deal with the new animated feature film group that includes directing a feature, working title “Powerless,” and consulting on previously announced films “Split” and “Luck.”

Greno takes with him experience as creative advisor on “Big Hero 6,” head of story on “Bolt,” writer of “Meet the Robinsons” and co-director of “Tangled.” 

Greno joins a company of all-stars in animation, including former DreamWorks Animation employees Bill Damaschke, “Shrek” director Vicky Jenson and “Kung Fu Panda 3″ co-director Alessandro Carloni. Another Disney screenwriter is already working with Skydance Media as well: Linda Woolverton (“Beauty and the Beast,” “Lion King”).

– Courtney (harmonicacave)

Strong Ties to DreamWorks Animation for Skydance Media’s New Division

Skydance Media, a film and television production company in partnership with Paramount Studios, solidifies its plan for a move into animation by hiring Bill Damaschke, formerly of DreamWorks Animation, to serve as animation president. 

Deadline reported the story earlier this week.

Damaschke oversaw Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon as they released and became great successes for DreamWorks. He also oversaw The Croods and live theatrical productions, including Shrek the Musical; his interest in theater continues as he oversees an upcoming stage adaption of Moulin Rouge.

Skydance has released more than a dozen films since its 2010 beginning and has nine more films, including two animated features, on its slate. They also have a video game branch — Skydance Interactive (Archangel, PWND, The Walking Dead VR) — and television group, responsible for Netflix hit Grace & Frankie.

While their productions have been primarily been big action/adventure or blockbuster types — True Grit, Jack Reacher, Star Trek: Into Darkness — the two announced animation projects, called Luck and Split, definitely deviate from this.

Spilt is helmed by Shrek director Vicky Jenson and written by Beauty and the Beast and Lion King scribe Linda Woolverton. IMDb explains that the story follows “Elian, a teenager who comes of age using her magical powers to defend her family when the opposing forces of light and darkness threaten to divide her kingdom.”

A kingdom of light and darkness — not an unknown story aspect for Woolverton.

Luck, which is currently named Good Luck Bad Luck on IMDb, takes a behind-the-scenes look at “the millennia-old battle between the organizations of good luck and bad luck that secretly affects our daily lives,” according to a Deadline report last July.

Director Alessandro Carloni was most recently co-director of DreamWorks’ Kung Fu Panda 3, and also pulls experience as head of story on How to Train Your Dragon and its sequel. 

The screenplay will be written by duo Glenn Berger and Jonathan Aibel (Trolls, Kung Fu Panda, The SpongeBob Movie — and their sequels — and the upcoming Loud House film).

Luck arrives in 2020, and Split is scheduled for a 2021 release. Ilion Animation Studios — who are currently working on Paramount’s Nickelodeon collaboration Amusement Park — will also animate Luck and Split. 

Like its partner Skydance Media, Paramount also hired a former DreamWorks Animation executive to lead its own animation program this year.

– Courtney ( @harmonicacave​ )