HUNTSVILLE - Wallace Pidgeon and Kevin Hicks, of Entremedia Digital Films Incorporated, asked Huntsville town council on Aug. 20 to support the company’s goal of creating a digital animation hub in the municipality.
Kevin Hick, left, and Wallace Pidgeon along with their colleagues at Entremedia Digital Films Incorporated are thinking of making Huntsville the home of a new animation studio and production hub.
“Huntsville’s Muskoka Animation Studio would grow to become the flagship destination for high-level animation production in North America,” said Pidgeon. “You have the capacity here from an IT point of view. We want to help you grow and develop that, creating sustainable economic development, jobs where highly educated employees … will come to live, work and call this part of the world home.”
The company, according to its website, produces and develops family entertainment, including feature films, television specials and episodes, direct to DVD content, and visual effect elements for live action features and content for audiences around the world. It also oversees various developmental studio facilities.
Its five-year plan for Huntsville includes the creation of an animation studio as well as a data centre to house equipment and computer systems for the production of animated features.
Pidgeon said the company wants to launch the studio next year.
“We would launch this by 2013, create a facility that, by the end of the calendar year, creates 50 to 60 full-time, high-value, high-technology positions ranging from $50,000 to $60,000 a year for staff salaries and from $80,000 to $100,000 a year for production managers, directors and key production partners,” he said.
The studio would hope to attract productions similar to Madagascar or Kung Fu Panda, along with motion capture, special effects and post-production, said Pidgeon.
And the studio would also incorporate post-secondary education and training, apprenticeship opportunities and youth internships.
He suggested the studio’s creation could then lead to events-based tourism in the form of a Muskoka animation festival to begin in 2013. He said it could start as something like Sudbury’s Cinefest and grow into a Sundance Film Festival for animation.
Pidgeon and Hicks asked council to support the company’s plans for becoming an animation destination. Council’s support would give the company leverage when searching for grants, funding partners and financing.
Hick spoke about the company as a family business that does not necessarily want to remain in big-city Toronto.
“This is the next stage,” said Hicks. “We’re looking for a community that supports the kind of lifestyles we’re all looking for, which is not streetcars, Queen Street, Toronto and diesel fumes.”
Coun. Det Schumacher said he was “totally excited” about the idea of an animation hub coming to Huntsville and asked how young people from the area could get in touch with the company.
Hicks said the company would likely hold a job fair in the area once plans are solidified.
Mayor Claude Doughty called the industry a great fit for Huntsville and read a resolution to support the animation hub in principle.
Council unanimously passed the resolution.
Though no details have been finalized, the company has looked at space in the Waterloo Summit Centre for the Environment.