SOURCE: LAIKA, Inc.
September 12, 2007 06:00 ET
LAIKA, Inc. Announces Two Executive Appointments
Former Lucasfilm & Hanna-Barbera Executive Alan Keith Joins Studio as Vice-President, Business Operations/CFO; Travis Knight Appointed Vice-President, Animation
PORTLAND, OR--(Marketwire - September 12, 2007) - Portland-based animation studio LAIKA, Inc.
has made two new appointments to its management team, President & CEO Dale
Wahl announced today. Former Lucasfilm and Hanna-Barbera executive, Alan
Keith, has joined the studio as Vice-President, Business Operations and
Chief Financial Officer and Travis Knight has been promoted to
Mr. Keith, who has over 20 years of finance experience in both corporate
and movie studio settings, will be responsible for leading the expansion of
LAIKA's business operations as LAIKA continues to grow its pipeline of
animated feature films, television commercials, music videos, broadcast
graphics and short films.
"Alan's diverse set of business and financial skills is critical to LAIKA
at this time in our company's growth," said Wahl. "He has excellent
experience balancing creative and business perspectives and he will make a
significant contribution to LAIKA's advancement in the animation and
commercial production businesses," Wahl said.
Mr. Keith comes to LAIKA after two years as Corporate Finance Director at
Genentech, Inc., a biotech and life sciences companies. Prior to that,
Keith held senior management roles in the entertainment industry for over
18 years, most recently with Lucasfilm, as the corporate Vice President of
Administration & Secretary for the company. In addition to his corporate
responsibilities for Lucasfilm, Keith oversaw finance and business
operations for Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound, as well as
administration for Lucasfilm Animation, the company's newest division
established in Singapore. Keith joined Lucasfilm after four years as Vice
President, Business Operations and Controller at Hanna-Barbera, Inc.
Before that, he was Chief Accounting Officer and Controller at
Hanna-Barbera Entertainment Company, Inc., where he oversaw the financial
activities between joint venture partners Turner Broadcasting Systems, Inc.
and the Apollo Investment Group. The alliance funded the buyout of the
Hanna-Barbera cartoon library from Great American Entertainment Company.
Prior to that, Keith held respected tenures at Turner Entertainment Company
and with Price Waterhouse.
In his role as Vice-President of Animation, Mr. Knight will continue many
of the responsibilities he has discharged as Head of Animation for the past
two years. He continues as one of the Lead Animators on LAIKA
Entertainment's "Coraline," the first stop-motion animated film to be
originally produced in 3D, to be released by Focus Features in 2008. This
promotion formally recognizes his extensive influence across the entire
LAIKA slate of films. He is a key member of the team responsible for
property acquisitions, development, and green-lighting and he also provides
creative direction regarding the look and feel of LAIKA's portfolio of
releases. With this promotion, his involvement in the business operations
of the company will also deepen.
"Over the past two years Travis has played an increasingly active role in
the studio's creative direction in his role as head of LAIKA's animation
department," says Wahl. "His appointment as VP is a logical move for the
studio and allows us to continue to benefit from his considerable creative
talent and valued leadership skills."
Knight joined Vinton Studios (which was later re-named LAIKA, Inc.) in
1998. He started animating full time on "The PJs," prime time television's
first ever stop-motion animated series, which Vinton produced with Imagine
Entertainment and Eddie Murphy Productions. The series won three Emmys in
its run on Fox-TV. He also worked on the Vinton-produced animated series
"Gary & Mike" for UPN. He served as Supervising Animator on the
award-winning CG short "Moongirl" (2004), directed by Henry Selick. He has
animated numerous commercials produced by LAIKA/house, for clients
including Gateway, McDonald's, Nestle and Fox, amongst others.
In 2002, Travis took a seat on LAIKA's Board of Directors and since then
has been increasingly involved with the business operations and creative
direction of the company as it builds its production slate in both CG and
stop-motion feature films and expands its commercial production activities.
LAIKA, Inc. is an entertainment and media company specializing in animated
feature films, television commercials, music videos, broadcast graphics and
short films. It is a dynamic community of filmmakers, designers and
animators fueled by the vision of its owner and Chairman, NIKE co-founder
and Chairman Philip H. Knight. The company, formerly known as Vinton
Studios, was re-branded as LAIKA in 2005.
LAIKA Entertainment's first animated feature film, "Coraline," based on the
international bestselling children's novel by Neil Gaiman, is being adapted
for the screen and directed by LAIKA Entertainment's supervising director
Henry Selick ("The Nightmare Before Christmas," "James and the Giant
Peach") with Dakota Fanning and Teri Hatcher leading the voice cast. It
will be released by Focus Features ("Brokeback Mountain," "Pride &
Prejudice," and "Lost in Translation"). Also on its feature film
development slate are "Jack & Ben," an original story of brotherly love set
in the animal kingdom in CG, and "Here Be Monsters," based on the
bestselling children's novel by writer/illustrator Alan Snow.
LAIKA's many awards include 11 CLIO Awards, three London International
Advertising & Design Awards, five Mobius Advertising Awards, two Cannes
Lion International Advertising Festival awards, two Academy Awards® out
of five nominations, 11 Prime time Emmy Awards, and honors from the New
York International Film & TV Festival, Annecy Awards, Annie Awards, and the
World Animation Celebration Festival. Recently, LAIKA/house, the
commercial division of the company, was honored with an Annecy nomination,
three Annie nominations, two Telly awards, SICAF 2006 Special Distinction,
AdWeek's Best Spots for 2005 and named Animation Magazine's No. 1 AniCom
Pick for two years in a row.