Samurai Jack creator Genndy Tartakovsky has a new job. The two-time Emmy winner behind Cartoon Network’s Dexter’s Laboratory and Star Wars: Clone Wars is heading up to San Francisco to be the president of creative at the newly launched Orphanage Animation Studio. The company launches with a multi-million dollar development fund raised through private equity and is actively developing a slate of CG feature projects. The studio plans to launch its first movie in 2008, with a new movie every 18 months thereafter.
Joining Tartakovsky at OAS will be art director and character designer Craig Kellman (lead character designer for DreamWorks’ Madagascar), story artist Bryan Andrews (Star Wars: Clone Wars and Samurai Jack), art director and background artist Justin Thompson (Star Wars: Clone Wars), art director and character designer Paul Rudish (Star Wars: Clone Wars) and Aaron Springer (story-board artist and writer on Spongebob SquarePants, Samurai Jack and The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie and the creator of Adult Swim’s Korgoth of Barbaria).
“After 13 years of television animation I’ve had the good fortune to work with some of the finest talent in the industry," says Tartakovsky. "Now my story team and I have an opportunity to take that experience into feature films. Bringing together The Orphanage’s expertise in visual-effects and computer animation and our creative vision in storytelling and design will form a unique and fulfilling partnership.”
"Our friends across the Bay at Pixar have set the creative bar very high for CG features," says Scott Stewart, Orphanage co-founder and the new studio’s chairman. "We knew if we wanted to achieve that level of quality in our films, we needed a visionary storyteller. We found that storyteller in Genndy who has proven himself to be one of the most innovative and exciting voices in animation today."
Orphanage Animation Studios is poised to produce a slate of CG animated films to be directed by Tartakovsky in the $50 to $75 million range with discussions underway with several distribution channels. OAS will be able to leverage The Orphanage’s technology and expertise which was honed creating thousands of vfx shots for features such as Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Superman Returns. The toon shop is actively seeking a new campus in the San Francisco area close to The Orphanage’s visual effects facility to accommodate its expanding operations and house the estimated 200-300 artists needed for CG feature production.
In addition to continuing in their roles at The Orphanage, Carsten Sørensen will join the new studio as CEO and Daniel Gloates as CFO. Genndy Tartakovsky is represented by the William Morris Agency. The Orphanage is represented by Creative Artists Agency and the law firm Katten Munchin & Rosenman LLP.
According to a story in Monday’s Variety, Tartakovksy had also talked to Lucasfilm and ILM before making a deal with Orphanage. His first feature project was to be the CG/live action mix Astro Boy for Sony, but though he delivered the script, the movie never went into production.