Ian Sheppard is adding another high-profile animation studio to his starry résumé: the executive is joining stop-motion producer Laika as head of development.
Here are the details:
- Laika’s filmography, which has earned it five Oscar nominations, a BAFTA, and a Golden Globe, includes Missing Link, Coraline, and Kubo and the Two Strings. It is currently at work on a sixth feature. Sheppard will report directly to Travis Knight, president and CEO of the Hillsboro, Oregon-based studio.
- He was previously svp of development for features and series at Skydance Animation. He joined the nascent studio in June 2018, half a year before John Lasseter was hired to lead it.
- Sheppard oversaw the creative development of Skydance’s feature slate, including Luck and Spellbound (both of which may be heading to Apple TV+). He also led the studio’s expansion into series.
- Before Skydance, Sheppard was at Dreamworks, where he helped launch the tv division. Under his watch, it produced over 300 hours of content as part of a deal with Netflix. Series he helped deliver include Boss Baby: Back in Business, Voltron: Legendary Defender, and Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts. Previously, Sheppard served as executive director of original movies at Nickelodeon.
- “Ian’s talent, taste, and rare creative sensitivity make us a better studio,” said Knight in a statement. “He draws on a wealth of experience across mediums and genres and brings a vibrant energy to our leadership team. I’m thrilled to welcome Ian to Laika, and look forward to crafting a diverse slate of bold, distinctive, and enduring stories.”
- “Laika is a company that represents the highest bar for quality and innovation in animation,” added Sheppard. “I’ve been in awe of their brilliantly original films and I’m thrilled to now contribute to a company that is so devoted to the power and art of storytelling.”
- Laika’s films, though all critically successful, have seen diminishing returns at the box office. Its last release, 2019’s Missing Link, grossed only $26.6 million worldwide; CFO Brad Wald left soon after. In August, the studio laid off 15% of staff, citing the pandemic.