It’s been a tough year in San Francisco. First, The Orphanage shut down, and then we reported earlier this month that Wild Brain is a goner. The Business of Animation blog, run by an anonymous industry vet, has posted more about why the Bay Area Wild Brain was shuttered. Apparently, it was at the urging of one particular female exec:
How did this happen? Well, I cannot say for sure. But the rumor going around is that when the previous CEO left, they brought in a woman to run the company. She was a TV producer down in LA and her big bright idea was to shutter the SF office. Supposedly she put the kibosh on any incoming projects, just to guarantee there was no work to support the studio.
The woman in question who was brought in to run the company is Marge Dean, and I’ve heard a similar tale from my sources that corroborates this version of the story.
Equally enlightening is a reader comment from the same post. It was written by an anonymous person who worked at Wild Brain in its earliest days. The comment is worth reposting in its entirety:
I guess the saying might be that they always took the opportunity to do the wrong thing, but that might be a bit harsh. They had, in the start, an esprit de corps, since I was one of the original 7 or so with the company.
“We few, we merry few…”
And yes, we took chances, we got creative, and we got things started and done since it was all of out asses on the line. Once it got too big, once money came into the picture, then you really could see the divisions, especially during the Dot-Com blizzard of cash and idiocy. Once the bottom fell out, so did all barnstorming and chance taking. The joy was sucked out of it. Wounds never healed. Backs remained stabbed.
We need that kind of company in the Bay Area again, like the early days of Colossal or the ‘Brain. Small enough to take chances and try new approaches, but egalitarian enough to avoid the layers of fat and mindless loyalties.
UPDATE: Reader “Judas P. Foxglove” offers another perspective in the comments about what’s happening at Wild Brain:
Wildbrain was not “shuttered” in the traditional meaning of the term. The studio moved to Los Angeles, the recognized epicenter of animation in this country. Anyone who is bemoaning a prudent business move (during a recession mind you) is probably someone who has a lot of sour grapes. All things change and everyone who lives and breathes in this world has suffered the consequences(or reaped the benefits) of change around them.
For what its worth, and what isn’t mentioned in this post, is that Wildbrain Studios in Los Angeles is as vibrant and creative a place as any that I have ever worked for – and I’ve been in the industry for over ten years in three different cities. And when the productions we are working on are released they are going to knock your socks off.