Animation exec Dan Philips has been hired as VP and head of production for LAIKA Ent., the animation company formerly known as Vinton Studios. Having worked on animated hits for DreamWorks, DKP Studios, Walt Disney Feature Animation and Big Idea Co., Philips brings a valuable experience to LAIKA, which is gearing up to enter the feature film arena. The appointment is effective immediately.
Philips has been involved in all aspects of animation production, including project management, writing, design, music, animation, effects, lighting and compositing. His credits include such animated Disney favorites as The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and Pocahontas, as well as Big Idea’s Jonah: A Veggie Tales Movie and DreamWorks’ The Prince of Egypt and The Road to El Dorado.
Before joining LAIKA, Philips headed the art department at Toronto’s DKP Studios for nearly three years. Prior to that, he served as VP and head of production at Chicago’s Big Idea Co., where he exec produced Jonah: A Veggie Tales Movie, the first indie CG feature widely released in the U.S. From 1995 to 2000, he worked at DreamWorks, rising to the rank of triage digital supervisor, after serving for four years as head of CG Imagery for Walt Disney Feature Animation.
LAIKA, owned by Nike co-founder and Chairman Phil Knight, was a production entity on Warner Bros.’ Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride and is now at work on two feature films. Filmmaker Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach) is directing Dakota Fanning in Coraline, an adaptation of the bestselling children’s novel by Neil Gaiman. Also in the pipeline is director Jorgen Klubien’s Jack & Ben’s Animated Adventure, a heartwarming story of brotherly love set in the animal kingdom.
Selick, who is a supervising director for LAIKA, helmed the company’s flagship CG short, Moongirl. The film has been picking up awards on the festival circuit, nabbing the Short Film Special Jury Prize at the Ottawa Int’l Film Festival and the award for Best Animated Short Film at the Los Angeles Int’l Children’s Festival, among others. More information on the studio can be found at www.laika.com.