Fatkat Shuts Down

Fatkat

Canadian animation studio Fatkat has shut its doors. The studio employed 100 people at its peak providing service work on shows like Skunk Fu!, Chaotic, and SuperNormal. Studio founder Gene Fowler has posted a long blog entry with information about the closure. In the post, Fowler says that he and a few of his friends are gathering together to launch a new studio called Loogaroo, located in Miramichi, the same city as Fatkat.

The story of the studio’s shutdown is more complicated than it appears. In his post, Fowler blames the production of a new series called Three Delivery, calling it the “most demanding and torturous production I have ever seen,” and says his “heart goes out” to the crew that had to work on the show. That show was created by Larry Schwarz (Kappa Mikey), who runs the New York studio Animation Collective, which as you may recall, was having its own problems paying artists a few months back.

Additionally, this CBC article from a few weeks ago offers juicy details about Fatkat’s finances. It says that the Canadian government had awarded over $1 million in grants to Fatkat since 2005, but had decided to withdraw its funding in the past few weeks because “Fatkat does not have the revenue stream it had anticipated.”


  • animator guy

    “Three Delivery” looks like complete ass. Why Flash? Flash only saves you money if the designs are support it. The show looks like it would have been better off hand-drawn.

    You don’t have to take every peice of shit show that comes your way. You can say no.

    Of course, I completely understand needing the work but there comes a point where you have to ask yourself if it’s worth the headache.

    It’s a shame that another studio has bitten the dust, I hope everyone that was there can find some work.

  • Daniel Spencer

    Always sad to hear an animation studio being shut down. I hope they manage to sort something out so those artists can continue there work.

  • http://excitement86.tumblr.com/ Mike G

    Regardless if you liked Three delivery or not, I think everyone that worked on that show deserves a big pat on the back for the long hours and countless revisions that went into it. Sorry to hear Fatkat had to resort to closing its doors, I wish the best of luck to Gene with his new studio and to the members of Fatkat who are moving on.

  • Ho Dio

    And we are crying over a Canadian animation company because…? The government cripples the industry by giving away easy money. That takes away the blood thirst necessary to make it big on any quest. Stop the protectionism and go out head on to compete as you should.

    Canada’s animation industry went to hell way time ago. Remember Mainframe? the creators of Reboot. Pixar stole their thunder on being at the cutting edge of computer animation and instead of working harder to get back what was theirs, the founders were stabbing each other on their back.

  • http://woweh.com Cadychan

    How heartbreaking! My best friend (now a PA at Bardel) moved out there to work a couple of years back…that’s sad to hear. I wish the whole team the best of luck in the future.

  • http://mymedicatedlife.blogspot.com/ Bitter Animator

    Personally, I see this as very sad news, though I have seen nothing of Three Delivery and can’t speak for the quality (or lack of, if that’s the case) of the show.

    The studio, however, kept a lot of animators employed and that, to me, is something to be celebrated. And I have certainly enjoyed some of the work they did in the past.

    To Ho Dio, I’m not so sure the government “cripples” the industry by giving away money. I certainly have seen some studios over this end of the Atlantic exist simply by pissing away development funds year after year. But I’ve seen more studios put it to good use, hiring creative talent and producing interesting results.

    The fact is, below a mere handful of television productions, and I’m not even sure there are a handful, the business we are in is (to quote Falling Down) not commercially viable.

    Without public money in countries like Canada and across Europe, hundreds, possibly thousands, of animators and creative talents would be trying to scrape a living competing in ad work or something like that. Or training in IT.

    And, as for the children, they would have to watch nothing but Dora reruns, Spongebob and whatever cack was coming out of Asia.

    Where I am, public money is essential for one huge reason well beyond my own employment – it gives children television shows relevant to their culture.

    Sad to hear about the Fatkat guys and I wish all their crew well.

  • Andre

    Gene’s a nice guy, hope he has better luck with his new company. I remember back when they were doing commercials out of some rather old buildings downtown.

  • I Swish

    Oh, I remember fondly, an evening where Gene was liquored up (it would have been the early days of FatKat) and he was trying to pick a fight with me in a bar cause he considered me a competitor. While he would have crumbled in a brawl, it turned out to be a little like the scene in Roxanne where the more erudite and quick witted Steve Martin cuts the lug down to size. (me erudite and quick witted is a joke in and of itself).

    It was that behaviour that convinced me he and everyone who put their trust in him, were doomed.

    That aside…that kind of government assistance does NOT a business make. That was not an Animation studio…look at the numbers, it was cultural welfare and good on the government for pulling the plug.

    Come on Gene…try running a business now!!!

  • Chris J.

    You know, I work in the video game industry and I’ve got to tell you I find the little glimpses of the animation industry I see here on the Brew really fascinating. Government subsidized animation studios? Animators ready to throw down at bars? People in and out of various studios – studios starting up, shutting down, etc.

    How do guys get stable? Is it as transient an existence as it sounds, or am I getting a skewed impression of what it’s like?

  • http://www.fooksie.com Fooksie

    I wish Gene and the other people at FatKat well.
    I hope that in the future, they can look back at this as just a ” bump in the road “.

  • http://www.frankpanucci.com FP

    I never heard of FATKAT, but this article made me curious so I looked it up on http://www.ratemyemployer.ca.

    Wow!

    Employees were allowed to drink at work… Beer right on the damn animation desk! Employees and management were not bound by “political correctness” and randomly hurled toys and disrespectful obscenities. It sounds like a great place.

    As for the boss being a flaming arse hole, when I worked day jobs that was always the case anyway. About the 80+ hour weeks, well, at least the studio didn’t insist on decent quality, which takes some of the pressure off. Freelancers often have to put in those kinds of hours anyway, and then fight to get the final 25% payment.

    The Fatkat story is an Interesting one.

  • http://www.daganm.blogspot.com Dagan

    Sad and striking news.

    I wish Gene and the former Fatkat crew the best.

  • anonymous

    Drinkin’ beer and animatin’ at work is an odd thing?

    OH CANANDA

  • http://www.germanshible.com German S.

    Best of luck to Gene and pals with the new endeavor.

    It always amazes me how cynical some folk can be on here. all for one, any one?

  • http://amymebberson.blogspot.com Amy Mebberson

    Drinkin’ beer and animatin’ at work is an odd thing?

    Yeah, seriously, this surprises people??
    It was the animation industry that turned me into a social drinker!

    If my studio hadn’t closed down, I was this close to buying a small bar fridge and keeping my own beer stash in my cubicle. And NOBODY would have minded.

  • http://www.pilartoons.com Pilar

    Fat Kat are a bunch of great and talented people that I have had the honor of meeting up at the Ottawa Animation Festival. I am saddened to hear this and wish them the best of luck out there!!!

  • http://gogopedro.blogspot.com GOGOPEDRO!

    Well this is interesting news….I was on the way out of A.C. just when the Three Delivery production was getting going…That was almost two and a half years ago now…. Time flies…

    I won’t talk much about my time spent at the collective but I have good friends who did trips up to FatKat and worked on the Show…. Good people, good artists too. Still it’s hard for lots of people both here in NY, and there in CANADA…

    A lot of people here lost their shots at working on “Delivery” here in NY when they proposed to move it to FATKAT… Say what you will about the show but, it was almost two years of steady employment…. a hard thing to come by in this industry during these times…

    Congrats to FatKat for finishing the tough task at hand, and my condolences on the shutdown. All the Best wishes for you in the future…

  • http://www.goonytoon.com Aj H

    Canadian, British, Australian and some American companies all take little chunks of subsidy from governments (to name a few). Art is a shared part of the community or of a country or world. From 2000-3000 years ago the empires asking it’s artisans for work in great temples, to the dark ages and tryptics. Rennaissance and it’s civic artists (including our favourite Italians) and now modern times have all seen government paid or subsidized work. I think that’s a non-issue at this point.

    It’s easy to become bitter and jaded in this industry, but sometimes it’s important to see the people behind the production. Their families, the hard work, their own frustrations with what they have to do so that things get done and with as much professionalism and quality as they can.

    There’s no need to wish ill on anyone that hasn’t done anything to you. They worked hard, people made decisions that lead to a bad end. It’s art, take chances and work hard to achieve them.

    I wish them all the luck and hopefuly they learned and can move past.

  • Chris

    It’s definitely sad news whether or not you liked one of their shows or not. They produced a lot more than just the animation collective shows and some of their work was great.

    Most sad of all is seeing a studio that was trying to do their own thing away from any major city fail. I wish them all the best of luck in whatever comes next!

  • http://www.crylic.blogspot.com Dan

    I worked at Fatkat for a couple of years, fortunately I had the good sense to get out when I did (right before the shit hit the fan on Three Delivery), I did work on the show tho, as the lead character designer for the first 7 episodes, but then I left.

    While I had very strong opinions about Fatkat and Gene when I left and for a while afterwards, I soon mellowed out and adopted a more lax attitude about the business of animation in general. While that helped me out tremendously, not holding on to all that raging anger and bitter hatred, It didn’t help the few friends that I still had there and all the long hours and stress involved with the Fatkat production model.

    It sucks for the few friends I have left there to be out of work and stuck in that god forsaken town but the thing that bugs me the most about all this is Gene’s name for his new Venture, Loogaroo:

    According to the myth, the Loogaroo is a woman, who is in league with the Devil. She will have magical abilities only if she gives the Devil blood every night. She tries to give him blood of other creatures, or else he will take her own blood, causing her to die.

    It really leaves me speechless, who in the hell would name their company that??? Especially someone with such a mixed and varied reputation…maybe it’s a warning, or maybe we’re all idiots and don’t know what he knows…I sincerely wish the best for any of those with the good sense to not wait around for this new venture of his to take off, there IS other stuff out there, in Ontario in Quebec maybe try to make a transition to the games industry. Whatever you do, best of luck.

  • Mike Valiquette

    Loogaroo is phoenetic spelling for Loup-Garou, the french word for werewolf. It likely shares the meaning referred to above, but sometimes it’s best to stick with the simplest answer to a question.

    Let’s try not to read too much into something that Gene probably just thought sounded cool.

  • http://www.crylic.blogspot.com Dan

    Regardless of what it means, he chose to spell it phonetically which just happens to, when looked up, come with said definition. I’m not reading anything into it, I looked up the name, that’s the first thing that came up and I thought I would express my opinion on the connotations that it implies. All it takes is a bit of research before jumping head first into something…just sayin’. I hear what your saying tho, I just don’t think it was the best name to go with.

  • http://www.fatkat.ca Gene Fowler

    I love the thought of shape shifting, as that in a way, is what we do.
    I knew full well what it meant Dan Helle, we thought it was a hoot that this lady was “in” with the devil. As we thought flamers on the web would surely get a post or two out of it. Well, we were right weren’t we?

    When selling your services you pick a spelling that’s easy for everyone to get. Phonetically is best. Plus it sounded way cooler. I love the thought of shape shifting, as that in a way, is what we do.

    We had many other names to choose from, but all of the .com’s and .ca’s were taken. so we waited for just the right one. Robbie spit it out, we all thought it was genius and went with it. who cares?!

    Nice to see you not posting anonymously anymore by the way.

    I Swish, I have no idea who you are, and you of me, clearly. I’m not a fighter baby, I’m a lover. But I like to get raging drunk once in a while and have some fun, but all in jest, sorry about pouring beer in your shoe, I believe I did step over the line there, but hey, if you keep laughing, I’ll keep going.

    I can’t say I did everything right at Fatkat folks, but when you’re the boss and responsible for hundreds of jobs, you gather up your teams and team leaders and make the calls you gotta make to provide for them. Three Delivery was one of those calls, keep everyone employed by taking a less than perfect deal, or lay off a hundred people (which is like laying off 2000 people in a larger city, considering our town’s population). I chose to have hope that this show would sell and fill in the funding that it was missing. Well that didn’t work but at the end of the day, we finished the show, it looks decent, everyone got paid for every single frame they cranked out on and was given ample notice when the job was up.

    Despite what we think as artists of shows out there, our opinion matters not. It’s the opinion of the audience which matters most.

    Anyway, toodles,

    gene

    PS: thanks always to Cartoon Brew, the fox news of the animation industry.

  • http://www.crylic.blogspot.com Dan

    Alright, well not the best decision in my humble opinion, but at least you stand by it, and who can’t respect that. Seems odd that you would want to ignite the flamers, thats like asking for bad press…Either way, good luck I guess.

    And for the record, as you must think I have posted anonymously about you and or Fatkat often I’ve only ever posted anonymously once, and that was on the rateyouremployer site and it was obvious who it/I was. Even then, I never spat any venom, just offered my opinion as I did here. It was one of the only reviews that didn’t ignite a flame war but rather was praised for being well thought out and honest.

    Later, dudes.

  • http://zeteos.blogspot.com/ mick

    It was a good run. They were nearly the best animation studio in miramichi for a time…. it’s Lynne i feel for.

  • http://www.fatkat.ca Gene Fowler

    No such thing as bad press my dear boy.

    Well in that case Dan, I thank you for shortening my list of “I wonder who the hell said that on the internet”. I do hope you and Mandy are doing well in Quebec.

    Later,

    Mickles, ya fuck. Lynn says hi and wants her silk stockings back.

  • Matthew

    What does it matter who said what?

    THat’s the beauty of the internet(*like Youtube) Everyone can say what they want without getting “googled” about it.

    Besides, it takes a strong person to accept criticism without having to ask who they are, so you can go wail on them or grow hissy fits(*if thats what you do)

    Accept criticism and move on man. Good luck with the new dig! Its tough out there(*here)

  • http://roberttheanderson.blogspot.com/ Rob.A

    There is nothing that I can say here to adequately express my thoughts on the whole thing.
    Other than despite everything, I certainly feel more like I do now than I did when I first got here.
    Those of you that know me understand this sentence. Those of you who don’t, well if I get to meet you I can explain.
    The rest of you can make up your own opinions since that is what we all do anyway.
    Opinions: a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge :
    Are infinite.

    May whatever Gods you worship have mercy on us all.

  • Aberdeen Tinsletown

    http://miramichileader.canadaeast.com/opinion/article/674983

    (seems the locals are confused by all the mixed messages too)

  • Alberto T.

    Geez…
    I learned so much at Fatkat and I will always be thankfull of all those skilled people, both who hired me and teach me, as for the crap that TD was …well…I believe the fault, if you can say so, belongs to the “retardness” of this business, where money people get to decide on things they don’t know nothing about…like people from broadcasting companies etc…TD without the hurry and the crazyness of production pipeline would have been just as any other “normal” show…like Skunk Fu, demanding but rewarding.

  • James

    I believe it’s a scientifically verifiable fact that if you get two or more animators in a room they’ll begin complaining about the state of the industry in less than five minutes.

    I’m guilty of it as well, but I’m finding myself with less and less sympathy for myself and my peers.

    My condolences to Gene and his entire staff and all the best of luck to Loogaroo (and here’s to hoping their new logo is a bare breasted and bloodied woman being ridden by the Devil himself).

  • Montey West

    I really don’t understand why you would open an animation studio in a place where the people are a bunch of de-generates. I unfortunately had to drop in to town, and my IQ level suddenly dropped. Pick a REAL city first, and then (maybe) you’ll get results.

  • http://roberttheanderson.blogspot.com/ Rob.A

    Montey West. I love the comment but I don’t think you are using the correct word for your point:
    degenerate
    adjective |diˈjenərit|
    1 having lost the physical, mental, or moral qualities considered normal and desirable; showing evidence of decline : a degenerate form of a higher civilization. See note at depraved .

    deprave |diˈprāv|
    verb [ trans. ]
    make (someone) immoral or wicked : this book would deprave and corrupt young children.

    By using this word I would argue that you are talking more about the so called centers of humanity like New York, Toronto or L.A.

    Maybe a more appropriate word would have been the sticks:
    stick 1 |stik|
    noun
    ( the sticks) informal derogatory rural areas far from cities : a small, dusty town out in the sticks.
    I mean, if you are going to bash a place you should at least use the right words.

  • Truth B. Told

    The ‘hurry and craziness’ of the pipeline of animation specific to TD was due to some very terrible decisions of the team leaders early on. Specifically the Director and Art Director of Fat Kat. They made selfish, arrogant, egotistical decisions that put the show immediately behind the 8-ball. They treated the show like it was their own film. They chose to alter ‘client approved’ aspects of the show and it cost them in retakes and the artists and payroll played catch-up from that point on. Plain and simple, they were two people who should have never been and should never be in charge of anything. New team leaders were brought in and did a great job, considering the shit storm they had to deal with. No one can say what might have happened otherwise, so speculation is of no use.

    Animation Collective ( and Montey West above), for their part, treated FK exactly as you would think a major city treats a small town. Nice enough personally, sure, but professionally they treated FK like a bunch of unsophisticated goobers, but who could blame them after such a shoddy start. Blame the two.

    Gene just tried to fix what was wrong, to no avail.

    Good luck with your Loogies Gene. I hope you kept Rob A.

    TBT