Jeff Farnath, CEO of Portland, Oregon-based animation house Vinton Studios, will be stepping down immediately following a breakdown in contract renewal negotiations. The amicable split was announced today by Vinton Studios owner and board chairman Phil Knight.
Farnath joined Vinton Studios as CFO in 2000, and became CEO in the Fall of 2001. He will remain under contract with the studio as a consultant. Bob Harold, a Vinton Studios board member and 18-year Nike finance exec, will serve as interim CEO until a permanent replacement is found.
“Jeff has made a significant contribution to the continued success of this company,” Knight comments. “His stewardship and vision have allowed the Studio to secure its future in the animated feature film business, fortify its position as a leading producer of animated commercials, and attract the very best talent in the industry. We will continue to rely on his input as a valued consultant.”
Farnath comments, “It’s been an honor to guide the Studio through this exciting and challenging period in its history. I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished over the past four years and I know that the extraordinarily talented people at this company will continue to create great work.”
Most famous for commercial work such as the California Raisins spots and animated TV shows such as the short-lived The PJs and Gary and Mike, Vinton Studios recently made its first foray into features. The studio also hired on Nightmare Before Christmas director Henry Selick, who is in production on a CG short titled Moongirl. He will also direct feature-length, animated adaptations of the children’s books Coraline, by Neil Gaiman, and The Wall and the Wing, by Laura Ruby.
Other recent Vinton hires include storyboard artist, animator, and conceptual artist Mike Cachuela (The Incredibles, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Toy Story, Antz, James and the Giant Peach, The Nightmare Before Christmas) and writer/artist Jorgen Klubien (Monsters, Inc., Toy Story 2, and A Bug’s Life). Klubien most recently wrote and illustrated the original concept for Pixar’s upcoming feature, Cars.
As it aggressively pursues prominence in the feature film arena, Vinton Studios is focused on adapting kid lit properties. To this end, the company has hired former Oxford University Press Children’s Books publishing director Fiona Kenhsole to head up its worldwide literary scouting operations.