One of Germany’s top animation production houses, Akkord Film (akkord.film) celebrates its 20th anniversary this year with a rejuvenated, ambitious vision for the future and a fresh leadership team. Industry veteran Dirk Beinhold founded the studio in 2001, and since 2012’s Raven the Little Rascal has pursued animation with passion and enthusiasm, adapting children’s book classics such as Rabbit School – Guardians of the Golden Egg (feature, 2017) and Petronella Applewitch (series, 2020/21) as well as fable-inspired feature The Elfkins – Baking a Difference, a.k.a. A Piece of Cake (2020). Akkord was even nominated for the Cartoon Tributes “European Animation Producer” honor in 2018.
The studio has just appointed three co-CEOs:
- Valentin Greulich joined Akkord Film as a producer in 2012. He helped shape the company’s development and strategy over the course of eight years and has been integral in advancing Akkord into the renowned animation company it is today. After the success of The Elfkins, he took a one-year sabbatical as an international project consultant in 2020 and now returns as a financing and co-production expert.
- Imke Fehrmann is an internationally respected animation expert with more than 30 years of experience who joined Akkord in 2019 as Executive Producer and COO. After 14 years of high-profile experience in senior production roles for international companies such as Animal Logic, Axis Animation, Aardman and Lucasfilm Animation, among others, as well as Executive VFX Producer for Framestore and Rodeo FX, she is deeply integrated into the global, constantly evolving industry. She is a mentor for Women in Animation, a co-founder of German Women in Animation and member of the FMX program board.
- With many years of experience in international script development and financing, company owner Dirk Beinhold is a key driver of the continuous success of Akkord Film. Beyond being Akkord Film’s CEO, the USC Peter Stark Program alumnus plays an important role in strengthening the German and European animation industry and its producers. He is Vice-Chairman of Animation in Europe (federation of E.U.-based animation producers associations), founding board member of the new animation branch of the German Film Academy and board member of the animation branch of the German Producers Alliance.
Going forward, Akkord wants to put more focus on global IPs and original content to produce films and series targeted at an international audience and tailored to a broad spectrum of old and new media platforms. Collaboration and co-production with exceptional creatives and internationally experienced and innovative German and European animation studios will complement Akkord’s studio in Hamburg, headed by production manager Anne-Sophie Presch-Gacon. Akkord will expand its creative network within the industry and strengthen its existing script development team (Creative Producers Katharina Wicke, Susanne Biesinger and Claudio Winter).
The international debut of The Elfkins – Baking a Difference as the fourth most successful German theatrical film outside Germany in 2020 (garnering the Children’s Jury Award for Best Animated Film at the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival, the Bavarian Film Award and Best Animated Film at the Giffoni International Film Festival) was a first step towards this future. The Elfkins’ next big adventure is scheduled to go into production in 2022. Currently, two animated series and two more feature films are set for completion in 2024-2025.
As award-winning global independent animation studio ZAG (www.zag.com) continues to build its executive leadership team, the company has appointed former Zinkia executive Maria Doolan, who drove the global growth for the hit Pocoyo brand, to the newly created position of VP, TV Content. She reports to Jeremy Zag, Founder & CEO, and Julian Zag, EVP, Global Operations and Head of Global Consumer Products.
Doolan will be responsible for ZAG’s global strategy of content distribution across all platforms including television, home entertainment and digital media, for select properties in the ZAG Heroez portfolio. Her first priority will be focused on the company’s newest IP, Ghostforce, which was recently acquired by Disney Channels U.S. and debuted in October 2021 on Disney XD. Doolan will also work in partnership with ON kids & family (Mediawan) for the aspirational brand phenom Miraculous – Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir, as well as all future ZAG properties.
Doolan has over 20 years’ experience managing, marketing and selling TV and retail products and properties, spending 17 years with Zinkia Entertainment. During her tenure with the company, she served in several roles, most recently as Global Head of International TV Distribution & Co-Productions, developing partnerships with multinational players. Prior, she served as Executive Producer of the Early Learning Collaborative, securing a U.S. Ready to Learn (RTL) grant with a local non-profit partner, becoming the first non-U.S. brand to get an RTL grant; 23 educational apps covering English-language learning and math for three- to five-year olds were developed. The grant managed a $34 million development and marketing budget and supervised the project launch with complementary school marketing materials produced for U.S. distribution. In her earliest and most long lasting role as Managing Director of Brand & Business Development, Doolan was responsible for financing, marketing and managing Pocoyo worldwide, defining the brand and product strategy and market positioning; and developing key L&M partnerships.
Entertainment content and technology house Trioscope (www.trioscopestudios.com), known for its proprietary animated drama engine, today announced the expansion of its creative team with two key executive hires:
- Chief Strategy Officer John Evershed, who boasts an impressive 30-year resumé, is on board to help formulate and articulate Trioscope’s corporate strategy and trajectory, including corporate, project and slate financing, international co-production and business development. An innovative entrepreneur across film, TV, streaming and social media, Evershed advises several companies including Chonky, Mellow Manor and ZikVid and is the author of the annual Adult Animation White Paper. He previously served as the CEO of Mondo Media, where he oversaw the channel’s formation on WarnerMedia’s SVOD platform VRV, generated 5 billion views on YouTube and raised more than $100 million in company and project financing. He also produced multiple originals for a spectrum of networks, including Adult Swim, MTV, Syfy and IFC. Throughout his career, Evershed nabbed multiple awards for his creative work, including two Annie awards for Happy Tree Friends (G4) for Best Animated TV Series and the Berlin Film Festival’s award for Best Adult Animated Feature for Dick Figures: The Movie.
- Vice President of Production Taylor Church brings more than 10 years of industry experience to her new role at Trioscope, where she supervises all facets of production from pre-production to post. Before joining the company, Church was a longtime collaborator on Trioscope’s hybrid live-action/animation series The Liberator (Netflix). She spent several years at the School of Humans, an Atlanta-based multi-platform production house, where she produced countless hours of programming; spearheaded the podcast division; and was at the helm of the successful podcast Hell and Gone.
The news follows a highly successful year for the studio, which has seen rapid growth with a recent $5.25 million investment from BITKRAFT, Sony and more to further pioneer a genre of animated content for global audiences. In addition to the premiere of The Liberator on Netflix, which reached #3 worldwide for the platform, the company recently finished production on the short film Night of the Cooters, produced by George R. R. Martin and starring Vincent D’Onofrio, who also directs. Trioscope also has partnered with Dark Horse Comics, Oni Press, Netflix and A&E Studios for unannounced projects and announced a television development and production partnership with major music powerhouse Quality Control.
The Motion Picture Sound Editors (MPSE, www.mpse.org) announced the reelection of Mark Lanza to a two-year term as President. Additionally, David Barber has been elected to a two-year term as Secretary, a position he has held on an interim basis for the past year. Lanza and Barber join continuing Board Officers, Steve Urban (Vice President), Jeremy Gordon (Treasurer) and Christopher Reeves (Sergeant-at-Arms). In the organization’s annual board elections, Korey Pereira and Harry Snodgrass were elected as new board members. Returning board members include David Bondelevitch, Baylon Fonseca, Christina Horgan, Kevin Howard, Eric Marks, Stuart Morton and Solange Schwalbe.
MPSE is preparing for the 69th Annual Golden Reel Awards, scheduled for March 13, 2022. The 68th Annual MPSE Golden Reel Awards were held this past April 16 as a virtual event. It was a great success, including winners, nominees, presenters and attendees from around the globe. The team behind Pixar’s Soul took home the Feature Animation award.