This article by Chuck Salter in the new issue of Fast Company is a fascinating indepth read about the transformation of Will Vinton Studios into Laika. The story includes the first joint-interview with Laika owner Phil Knight (who also founded Nike) and his son Travis “Chilly Tee” Knight, who is an animator, director and board member at Laika. The article is slanted very much towards their side of the story, but it doesn’t pull any punches and addresses the studio’s historical baggage in the form of ousted founder Will Vinton.
When I wrote briefly about Laika a couple months ago, I described my feelings about the studio as “cautiously optimistic” and that opinion still hasn’t changed. They’re clearly an outfit with a vision (albeit not quite fully developed) and they’re run by a creative entrepreneur with a proven track record (which is more than can be said for most execs working in feature animation). And most commendable, they’re attempting to stake their claim as being an original producer of animated features instead of positioning themselves as yet another Pixar/DreamWorks clone. Now it just remains to be seen if the Knights’ big gamble will pay off; it’s definitely a story worth following.
(Thanks, Joel Brinkerhoff, for letting me know about the article)