Opus Animation has already begun hiring animators for its first project – a feature film called Emma’s Wings: A Bella Sara Tale. A co-production between Winnipeg’s Buffalo Gal Pictures Inc., Winnipeg’s Opus Visual Effects, and Entremedia Digital Films Inc. from Toronto, Emma’s Wings: A Bella Sara Tale is the first movie based on Bella Sara, the popular brand and virtual fantasy world of horses that originated in Denmark. The 3D feature movie will be released in 2013. It is the first animated feature being produced in Winnipeg.
“We’re thrilled to be teaming up with Entremedia to make this movie in Manitoba, and be able to expand our animation industry,” says Phyllis Laing, president of Buffalo Gal Pictures and Opus Visual Effects. “The entire world of Bella Sara is not only magical and engaging, but empowering for young girls. We could not be more excited to part of the team bringing this universe to life.”
“We have a lot of expertise at this type of CGI animation,” says Dan Krech, president of Entremedia. “The team at The Bella Sara Company has done a great job with their art development and branded characters. Our job will be to bring the fantasy world of Bella Sara to life in a way that will be entertaining and engaging to everyone. We’re glad to be bringing this project to Manitoba.”
Production of Emma’s Wings: A Bella Sara Tale will take place beginning this fall at Opus Animation – a commercial animation studio being established in Winnipeg, which will be located in the Exchange District. The project has already hired eight people, and will be adding another 16 more in coming weeks. In total, 45 positions will be created over the 44 week duration of the project. It is anticipated that 80% of the present jobs will be filled by Manitobans this year, with a goal of 100% within two years.
This exciting media industry expansion is a clear demonstration of how the Manitoba government’s support for Manitoba’s motion picture industry has facilitated the growth of Manitoba production companies. Existing production incentives managed by Manitoba Film & Music, and industry development support provided by On Screen Manitoba have played a significant role in creating a favorable context for Manitoba companies to develop new business opportunities, like expanding the animation sector.
Manitoba has a long tradition of animation, and has been “put on the map” by many renowned animation filmmakers such as Cordell Barker (The Cat Came Back) and Anita Lebeau (Big Drive). Manitoba companies with a current stake in the animation business include DACAPO, a professional audio production company that records voice actors and provides audio post-production for animated TV series and feature films. Mid Canada Production Services offer visual effects content for any application, and Merit Motion Pictures and Les Productions Rivard are also developing animation projects.