For Immediate Release
Contact: Alexis Deprey
Phone Number: (860) 729-8515
Animators, Designers, and Creatives Join Forces In Quarantine to Create
Animation Wild Card - A New Episodic Web Series
Introducing a collaboration by animation artists who banded together to bring some joy to the masses by curating a light-hearted collection of short-shorts into episodes, while strengthening connection and collaboration within the animation community.
Los Angeles, CA, August 5, 2020 -
California was one of the first states to lock down some of its major cities in March in an effort to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the entertainment industry was put on hiatus and most creatives found themselves stuck at home in quarantine. A group of primarily stop motion creatives, whose jobs were all on pause due to the pandemic, banded together to create Animation Wild Card—a light-hearted collection of animated short-shorts curated into episodes streamed online.
Animation Wild Card (AWC) grew out of an experiment of getting creative while stuck at home. Stuck in her one bedroom apartment in Burbank and desperately in search of a creative outlet, animation production designer and art director, Alexis Deprey (American Girl: Meet Joss Kendrick, Pepperidge Farm Goldfish, Robot Chicken), came up with the idea to create an animation challenge and recruit friends and colleagues in the stop motion animation industry to participate. Alexis along with Scott DaRos (Marvel’s MODOK, Robot Chicken, SpongeBob Squarepants) are the Emmy Award-winning duo behind Threadwood, a full service animation studio specializing in clay, stop motion, and character animation.
According to Deprey, “Threadwood’s favorite way to tell stories is in short bursts that feel like the comic strips you’d find in a newspaper.” Deprey and DaRos built Threadwood in between work for larger scale productions at other studios, and this working style set the foundation for AWC. The idea; challenge animators and creatives who were in lockdown at home to create short-shorts in their own homes, with the materials they had on hand. These shorts would then be curated into an episode to be streamed online.
In a casual conversation with Casey Follen (Fortnite, Ask the StoryBots, Robot Chicken) of Catalyst Castle, Deprey mentioned the idea for a quarantine inspired animation challenge and immediately Follen was onboard. Follen’s Catalyst Castle is a boutique studio that specializes in stop motion animation as well as sculptural illustration—a form of illustration that creates a composition by photographing designed elements in space. Enthusiastic about the idea, Follen states “I wanted this to be a constructive time for myself and for other people. Not only would this opportunity allow us to strengthen our skills, it would provide some stability and every contributor would leave quarantine with a portfolio of independent work that they created on their own, at home, with only the resources that they had on hand.”
Deprey and Follen began reaching out to their contacts, and immediately pulled in Maximilian Lopez, Sean Malony, and Cami Kwan of Apartment D (Shazam, Game Grumps, American Girl: Meet Joss Kendrick, and Barbie: Magical Dream Camper). Apartment D is known for their ingenuity in turning any space—whether it be an apartment, a garage, or even a kitchen into an animation studio; naturally they were the perfect collaborators for this project. Maximilian set up a Discord chat, normally an app for gamers (but regularly used at Apartment D to run animation stages), as a space for creators participating in the AWC challenge to chat and live-stream content. “The Discord chat became a casual place for us to sit together and talk. It became a really important community space for our colleagues/fellow animation professionals who we missed. Everyone was feeling really sad and alienated in quarantine, and we evolved into a support group for one another,” says Deprey.
“One thing that really drew us to Animation Wild Card was how it provided a platform to amplify the unique artistic voices in our industry, and gave momentum and exposure to a new wave of rising directors. We were really excited to be involved with a project that would showcase the breadth and variety of both our medium and our artists, and could broaden the scope of what people think stop motion can achieve.” says Kwan.
The initial goal for AWC was to put together just one episode, a test to see if this could be something sustainable. The minds behind Threadwood, Catalyst Castle, and Apartment D mapped out an overall organizational structure, decided on the tone and language of their outreach and what they were posting on social media. “We wanted to solidify our approach so we weren’t redoing it each time we reached out to someone so we created a process; but we also didn’t want it to feel too impersonal because that defeated the whole point of it,” says Deprey.
Follen mentions, “We set submission dates to give creators some structure, knowing that the shutdown situation was fluid and that life circumstances might keep some of the contributors from submitting on time or at all—and that was totally okay.” The entire team behind AWC was flexible in the process and even mentioned that if they didn’t meet the submission date for the first episode, they could do it for the second. “At this point we realized we were really doing more than one episode,” says Follen. Since its launch on April 24, AWC now has 6 fully-produced episodes on YouTube with more on the way.
AWC has been well-received around the world. “I noticed on social media our channels for Threadwood and for Animation Wild Card were developing a large following in Buenos Aires, Argentina,” says Deprey. With AWC in the international spotlight, the team decided to open the door to animators across the globe. The newest episode, set to premiere Friday, August 7th, 2020 is called “New Friends” and features new works by artists from Belgium, Egypt, France, Italy, Mexico, Scotland, and the United States. Follen explains, “Our outreach for this episode was a combination of connecting with people who responded to our published episodes plus contacting international artists who we were familiar with, but didn’t necessarily have personal connections to.”
Not only has AWC given a creative outlet to many animation professionals over the last few months, but it has truly created a community in a time where we are all forced to physically distance ourselves from one another. “Our Discord channel has allowed us to connect with others beyond the animation challenge. It was a space to discuss our mental health in the COVID crisis. We were able to openly discuss rates and how to price yourself competitively. We’ve talked about gate-keeping issues in the industry and why most of the creative leadership in animation is predominantly white, male, and from a background of financial privilege” says Deprey. “We’re proud that we’ve placed a priority on gender parity in AWC, but there is more work to be done. We want our community to grow and truly reflect the world we live in, and it’s not enough to fight only for gender diversity and equality. There’s work to be done for racial equity and an abundant need to share these stories.”
The future of AWC is ripe with opportunity as this community space for animators and stop motion creatives may just be the incubator needed to create change in the animation industry. Although sectors of the entertainment industry are slowly going back to work, AWC has built a safe space for animation artists to gather and further their craftsmanship. “Due to the environment we usually work in, we really have to rely on each other working on large-scale productions. But when the project or the show ends, the group disperses, and it can be disruptive to have to separate from your creative team,” says Follen. “It has been really nice to have something consistent and we’re looking forward to what we can accomplish together.”
For more information about Animation Wild Card, please visit https://animationwildcard.com. Episode 7 “New Friends” premieres August 7, 2020 which features a new collection of shorts by international animation artists.
Threadwood is the creative partnership of Emmy Award-winning animation professionals Alexis Deprey and Scott DaRos. Threadwood brings unique, handmade design sensibilities to clay, stop motion, and 2D animation projects. With over a decade of experience in the animation industry, the duo have developed strong leadership, creative, and organizational skills. Their background in illustration aids their work in animation and cinematography by emphasizing important features like composition, color, and clarity of visual storytelling. Both have professional illustration and animation experience and have worked on projects for clients such as Goldfish, Amazon, Apple, Mattel, and Denny's. They've also worked on several major network shows such as Marvel’s MODOK, Robot Chicken, SuperMansion, and SpongeBob Squarepants. For more information, please visit https://www.threadwood.com.
About Catalyst Castle
Catalyst Castle Studios is a new boutique media production company specializing in stop motion animation and sculptural illustration for social media marketing. At Catalyst Castle, we value hand-crafted content & the hands that make it. Catalyst Castle is an extension of the freelance practice of Casey Follen. While an artist at heart, Casey is an experienced Production Manager in the animation industry. Her strengths include managing artists, projects, and clients while remaining detail-oriented with the big picture in mind. Catalyst Castle is currently based in Los Angeles, with plans to one day relocate to Detroit. https://catalystcastlestudios.com
About Apartment D
Hello All! We are Apartment D! Our studio is about excitement, inspiration and getting our audience animated! With over a decade of experience in the professional stop motion industry, we combine a myriad of materials and highly graphic visual design to create engaging characters and tell their stories through dynamic, action-packed animation!⠀We also love exclamation points! Tengen Toppa Apartment D!!! http://www.apartmentdfilms.com
Animation Wild Card promotional images: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1ow69yG8T-_nFbPrnvJ60gi_OVyxEFSRm?usp=sharing