The Next Big Time-Trav­el­ing Ad­ven­ture

Burn­aby-based Ar­cana con­tin­ues work on its most am­bi­tious an­i­mated fea­ture to date dur­ing a chal­leng­ing year.

Animation Magazine - - CONTENTS - For more info, visit ar­cana.com.

Burn­aby-based Ar­cana con­tin­ues work on its most am­bi­tious an­i­mated fea­ture to date dur­ing a chal­leng­ing year.

An Amer­i­can teenager gets mag­i­cally trans­ported in time to the mys­te­ri­ous Chi­nese city of Sanx­ing­dui and ex­pe­ri­ences a fan­tas­tic ad­ven­ture in He­roes of the Golden Masks, an epic new an­i­mated movie in the works from the team at Bri­tish Columbian stu­dio Ar­cana.

“The orig­i­nal screen­writ­ers, Jim Kam­merud and Brian Smith, wrote this in­cred­i­ble story, and I knew it was a project I had to get be­hind,” says Sean Pa­trick O’Reilly, the stu­dio’s CEO and founder and the movie’s di­rec­tor and pro­ducer. “He­roes of the Golden Masks is in­spired by the an­cient bronze masks of Sanx­ing­dui dis­cov­ered on the ar­chae­o­log­i­cal site of Guang­han in the Sichuan Prov­ince. Gor­don McGhie and Troy Tay­lor of CG Bros En­ter­tain­ment Inc., a stu­dio deeply in­volved in build­ing re­la­tion­ships and gen­uine part­ner­ships in China, are my pro­duc­ing part­ners. We’re so for­tu­nate to an­nounce that Christo­pher Plum­mer and Ron Perl­man have also joined the cast.”

O’Reilly says work­ing on He­roes of the Golden Masks, which is the stu­dio’s ninth movie, has been a dream come true. “I be­lieve it will be the best movie Ar­cana has ever pro­duced,” he says. “I do love the cast and I’m ex­cited to be di­rect­ing Christo­pher Plum­mer once again. I’m also re­ally ex­cited to show off the tal­ents of our amaz­ing new team of an­i­ma­tors and crew. Even though we’re cre­at­ing this project dur­ing COVID, we’re still pro­duc­ing a film with 65 full-time peo­ple work­ing from home. We’ve up­graded our pipe­line, re­con­fig­ured Shot­gun and had to cre­ate a ro­bust VPN, and we have man­aged to make ev­ery­thing work. It hasn’t been easy or cheap, but we’ve found a way to keep pro­duc­tion mov­ing for­ward.”

Ed­u­ca­tional and Eco-Friendly Toons

In ad­di­tion, Ar­cana is con­tin­u­ing pro­duc­tion on its pop­u­lar CG-an­i­mated se­ries Go Fish, which is based on the fea­ture of the same name. “Like the film, the se­ries is eco-friendly and ed­u­ca­tional,” notes O’Reilly.“It’s funny, dar­ing, smart and truly is a cartoon the whole fam­ily can sit down and watch to­gether, as each episode finds the char­ac­ters on ad­ven­tures and finding new is­sues to face in the reef.”

O’Reilly be­lieves the stu­dio has been able to man­age so many projects be­cause of the hard work and tal­ents of his amaz­ing team. “The projects are highly col­lab­o­ra­tive and ev­ery per­son at the stu­dio re­ally helps bring the projects to life,” says the CEO. “Work­ing from home since early March, there are def­i­nitely days where I feel like I have only one hand on the wheel. Our team has been phe­nom­e­nal, adapt­ing strate­gies and work­flow, ac­com­mo­dat­ing th­ese un­prece­dented times. It has also been great spend­ing so much time with my wife and busi­ness part­ner, Michelle. She has been a rock!”

When asked to de­scribe a typ­i­cal pro­duc­tion at Ar­cana, O’Reilly says, “Each of our projects are de­vel­oped slightly dif­fer­ently, but of­ten we start with a suc­cess­ful graphic novel from the Ar­cana li­brary. I write the screen­play and at the same time Gary Yuen starts char­ac­ter mod­el­ing. We then con­tinue to de­velop the project, cre­at­ing the full-length an­i­matic while at the same time pulling a scene from the movie, tak­ing it right through to fi­nal comped im­age to use as our proof of con­cept.”

“We have some amaz­ing, tal­ented peo­ple we’ve picked up from Rain­maker, Dream­Works and Dis­ney, and we have never had this much lead time be­fore de­liv­ery,” he notes. “I jokingly call us a ‘farm to fork’ com­pany, as we have pro­duced all of our con­tent in house, not only from the cre­ative but also the pro­duc­tion, fi­nanc­ing and even our li­cens­ing and sales, which is led by Je­rina Ha­jno.”

O’Reilly, who founded the stu­dio in 2004, says de­vel­op­ing, pro­duc­ing, fi­nanc­ing and li­cens­ing Ar­cana’s own con­tent al­lows him and his team a lot more cre­ative free­dom than other big­ger stu­dios. “We don’t have a client, so we don’t need ap­provals from any­one out­side,” he notes. “We de­cide which projects we want to see cre­ated with full cre­ative con­trol. Be­yond cre­ative con­trol, we also have full con­trol over rights and sales, which was ex­tremely chal­leng­ing at the be­gin­ning. Now we have peo­ple com­ing to us for co-pro­duc­tions, look­ing for help with their fi­nanc­ing, and we have even in­vested in five pro­duc­tions as a se­nior debt lender.”

A big fan of an­i­mated shows like Sponge­Bob SquarePant­s, Rick and Morty and X-Men: The An­i­mated Se­ries and movies like Spi­der-Man: Into the Spi­der-Verse and The In­cred­i­bles, O’Reilly says he loves the lim­it­less pos­si­bil­i­ties of the medium. “An­i­ma­tion al­lows the cre­ator to il­lus­trate sub­jects or ac­tions in a way that live ac­tion isn’t able to,” he says. “I also love the life­style an­i­ma­tion al­lows. Since it’s pro­duced at a slower rate than live ac­tion, I’m not as stressed, and I love work­ing with my fam­ily and friends!”

Sean Pa­trick O’Reilly

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