Depending on how you look at it, this is either an inspirational story about an animator’s resilience in the face of adversity or an infuriating indictment of his financial irresponsibility. The New Brunswick Business Journal offers the cautionary tale of Gene Fowler and his defunct Canadian animation studio Fatkat Animation. We posted about Fatkat’s closure back in 2009, but there are plenty of fresh details in this article.
The short version: Miramichi-based Fatkat was considered a major success story in Canadian business during the 2000s, and at its height employed over 100 people doing service work primarily for animated TV shows. But, as it’s made clear by the article, the studio’s growth wasn’t organic, and was made possible only through nearly $3 million in loans and Canadian taxpayer-backed funding. When the flow of government money stopped in 2009, Fowler claimed bankruptcy to the tune of $2 million.
Fowler, who is now 35 years old, defends himself in the piece: “A lot of people in Miramichi – in my own hometown – think that I just closed down that company and have a million dollars in my bank account. Truth be told, I went broke trying to keep that company alive. . . .If people think that I pocketed a bunch of government money in an offshore bank account or something like that, then hey, they can live those fantasies, because I certainly can’t.”
After Fatkat’s demise, Fowler launched a new studio Loogaroo, which is still in operation today. He’s doing it the hard way this time–without government money–and after two years, the article reports that the company is profitable, although Fowler works predominantly with freelancers and “there are no employees per se.”