Archive for the ‘LAIKA/house’ Category

“Surfrider” Competes at Ottawa

OCTOBER 20, 2010: The Surfrider Foundation’s ‘Rise Above Plastics’ has been selected for the Official Competition in the Promotional Animation Category at the Ottawa 2010 International Animation Festival from October 20-24.

The spot, which was directed by Aaron Sorenson, was one of 89 films selected for competition from a field of 2092 entries.

Learn more about the festival.

LAIKA/house Sweeps Up Five Telly Awards

AUGUST 2, 2010: The winners are:

SILVER – Oregon Lottery “5,000 Watt Sweater” for “Use of Animation” and “Art Direction.”

SILVER – Missouri Lottery “Ginger-pult” for “Use of Animation” and “Use of Humor.”

BRONZE – Earth2O “Keep it Real” for “Use of Animation.”

The Telly Awards honor the very best local, regional, and cable television commercials and programs, as well as the finest video and film productions, and work created for the Web. Silver is the highest honor.

Aaron Sorenson directed “Ginger-pult” and “Keep it Real.” Eric Wiese directed “5,000 Watt Sweater” and Patrick Long illustrated.

Gary Raksis Appointed CFO

NOVEMBER 10, 2009: PORTLAND (From Marketwire) — LAIKA has appointed Gary Raksis to the post of Chief Financial Officer of the company. The announcement was made today by LAIKA President and CEO Travis Knight. Mr. Raksis, former Head of Strategic Planning and Corporate Finance at DreamWorks Animation SKG, will be responsible for leading LAIKA’s business operations as the studio continues to grow its pipeline of animated feature films, television commercials, music videos, broadcast graphics and short films. In addition, he will focus on exploiting growth opportunities for the company.

“Gary brings an exceptional range of financial management experience to LAIKA that will be invaluable to our evolution and success,” says Mr. Knight. “His extraordinary business acumen, rare creative sensitivity, and steady governance will provide a foundation for boldly innovative and visionary leadership in our business operations. We are thrilled that Gary has joined the Laika family.”

“I admire LAIKA’s stunning artistic and commercial accomplishments,” said Raksis, “and believe my financial experience and entrepreneurial approach will be a great fit with a company looking to expand on a creative vision that has already proven to be powerfully attractive to film-going audiences around the world.”

Mr. Raksis held various roles in financial planning and analysis at DreamWorks SKG before, in 2004, being named Head of Strategic Planning and Corporate Finance for DreamWorks Animation SKG. As a key financial executive at DreamWorks, Mr. Raksis oversaw overall strategic planning and day-to-day corporate finance functions while providing financial and business support required for operational decision making. In addition, Mr. Raksis focused on exploiting growth opportunities and oversaw analysis and operational research supporting DreamWorks’ new projects and businesses.

A graduate of Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, Mr. Raksis was previously a research analyst at William O’Neil and Company, an investment information firm that publishes Investor’s Business Daily newspaper.

Travis Knight Named President And CEO

MARCH 5, 2009: PORTLAND (From Business Wire) — LAIKA has announced that Travis Knight has been named President and CEO of the company. Knight succeeds Dale Wahl, who has held the position since 2005. Knight, who sits on the LAIKA Board and has been Head of Animation since 2007, was one of the lead animators on Coraline, the first stop-motion animated feature film to be produced in 3D. The appointments were announced by Philip H. Knight, LAIKA’s owner and Chairman of the Board. Mr. Knight is also Chairman of the Board and Co-Founder of Nike, Inc.

“Travis’ passion has always been the arts in general and filmmaking in particular,” said Phil Knight. “He was Coraline’s earliest champion, playing a key role in our decision to greenlight the project and his creative contribution as lead animator on the film was immense. His ambitious business vision for LAIKA grows out of a first-hand understanding of, and reverence for, the creative process.  I’m confident that our new leadership team will continue to move LAIKA to the forefront of the animation industry.

“Dale Wahl steps down as CEO at his request,” Mr. Knight continues. “After four years and at age 65 he felt, in his words, it was time to smell one rose. Dale moves into the position of Vice-Chairman to help Travis transition into their new positions until his retirement from LAIKA at the end of this October. In addition, he will temporarily fill the role of Executive Vice President of Business Operations and CFO until we complete our search to fill that position. With his steady leadership and business acumen, Dale has presided over our nascent feature film operation as well as our thriving commercial division, led by LAIKA/house President Lourri Hammack. The success of both areas of the company under his leadership has gotten us off to a great start.”

Travis Knight says, “At our core, LAIKA is an audacious, scrappy, and inventive community of filmmakers, driven by our love of animation, a belief in its endless possibilities, and confidence in its promise to touch the world. LAIKA’s potential is limitless. In both the entertainment and commercial arenas, we will continue to develop our visual and storytelling expertise across all animation formats. Simply put, we hope to grow into the boldest, most innovative animation studio in the world.”

Travis has been involved in all business and creative decision-making at LAIKA since the company’s inception in 2005, when Phil Knight took over Vinton Studios, Portland’s renowned animation studio with a distinguished 30-year history, and re-christened it LAIKA. Travis joined Vinton Studios in 1998 as a stop-motion animator, working on the Emmy Award-winning television series The PJs, produced with Eddie Murphy Productions and Imagine Entertainment, as well as the animated series Gary & Mike on UPN. He earned his CG animation stripes by animating numerous television commercials (McDonald’s, Hostess, M&M’s) and promo spots, including the NFL on Fox campaign. In June 2007, he was honored by Animation magazine as one of the Rising Stars of Animation.  He has served on LAIKA’s Board of Directors since 2003.

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