With every new year comes an opportunity to do new things. Change it up some. Freshen it up. And as part of its ongoing diversification plans and strategies to adjust to a rapidly shifting market, that’s exactly what DreamWorks Animation is doing.
Cartoon Brew recently reported that veteran animation producers Bonnie Arnold and Mireille Soria have been tapped to serve as Co-Presidents of DreamWorks’ feature film division. They will replace long-time DreamWorks CCO Bill Damaschke and to a larger extent, the title of CCO/Chief Creative Officer.
As Co-Presidents, Bonnie and Mireille will oversee the creative development and production of DreamWorks Animation’s theatrical releases.
“Mireille and Bonnie are two of the most accomplished and prolific filmmakers working in feature animation today,” said DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg in a statement. “I am confident in their ability to marshal the extensive creative resources available at our studio and lead DreamWorks’s vast ranks of artists and filmmakers as they produce the highest quality entertainment.”
Bonnie is best known for producing DreamWorks’ How to Train Your Dragon films. Before that, she produced the first Toy Story movie, Tarzan, and DreamWorks’ 2006 Over The Hedge adaptation. Mireille has 31 years of film experience, with 15 of those years spent at DreamWorks. She’s best known as the producer of the Madagascar films and Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron before that. She was formally vice president of production at Disney, where she spearheaded production on films such as The Mighty Ducks, Cool Runnings, and the live-action adaptation of The Jungle Book.
“Great storytelling is the heart of DreamWorks Animation, and we are honored and excited to help shape the movies that will entertain audiences around the world,” said Arnold and Soria in a joint statement. “DreamWorks has long been our home, and we can’t wait to begin working with all of the studio’s outstanding filmmakers and artists!”
This change in management, among many things, is yet a further sign of the growing presence (and acceptance) of women in animation. Last year, DreamWorks hired Kelly Kulchak to serve as Head of Current Programming for their growing TV division (she will serve under Margie Cohn, DreamWorks’ current Head of Television). And this year’s upcoming Annecy International Animated Film Festival will put a major focus on women filmmakers in animation, hosting an all-female jury, programs of films by women directors, and a tribute to female animation pioneers (its 2015 poster will even be designed by animator Regina Pessoa).
That being said, I like this change. Like I’ve mentioned before, Bonnie is part of the creative team handling the Dragons franchise for DreamWorks, and as a fan of those films I’m absolutely thrilled that she (along with the equally talented Mireilla) have been hand-picked for the job.
Time and time again, I’ve made a point of saying that animation needs more directors that are willing to step outside the long-standing ‘safe-zone’ as to really take advantage of the larger capabilities of the medium. And if having these two women at the helm of feature development means more directors like Dean DeBlois, Jorge Gutierrez, and Jennifer Yuh Nelson working at DreamWorks, I’m all for it!
What do you think? Any thoughts on this development?