Earlier this week, Wild Brain co-founder Phil Robinson and Wild Brain producer Amy Capen officially announced the launch of a boutique Bay Area-animation studio called Special Agent Productions. Details from the launch press release can be found at SHOOT. Over the past year, I’ve been hearing rumblings about turmoil at Wild Brain, but I was confused as to why the founder of the studio had left to start his own shop. It turns out that Wild Brain in San Francisco was shut down.
A source who asked not to be named offered some details about what’s been going on these past few months:
Basically, Wild Brain SF closed shop end of June. It was rumored that the board of directors/new management decided that the San Francisco branch was too much of a liability. There was a lot of politics behind that decision (i.e. the success of the TV business model of Yo Gabba Gabba!; the fact that the board and most of the executives are based in LA), and it got really ugly towards the end. It seems they wanted to cut their losses and open a new Flash studio in LA (which I heard is gobbling up all the Cartoon Network artists right now for a Ricky Gervais pilot).
Everybody scattered to the wind. Scary time. Since Phil and Amy were the main commercial people, they decided to form their own boutique shop and take the strength of their commercial reputation with them (i.e. Esurance, Lamisil).
Special Agent’s first project out of the gate is a 90-second Erin Esurance Bollywood-themed spot that premiered this week on IFC, and which can be seen on Special Agent’s website.
UPDATE: I just heard from the gang at Ghostbot, and they worked with Phil to produce the new Bollywood spot. Ghostbot, for those who may be unfamiliar, has animated many of the best Esurance spots to date.