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Z Animation Adds Ten DirectorsAward-winning mix of spot and indie talent joins animation company (November 30, 2004)
Z Animation, the TV spot animation company founded by Executive Producer Peter Barg, is announcing the addition of ten new directors for national representation. The broad mix of artistic styles and independent spirit includes directors John Ryan, Robert Pope, Howie Hoffman, David Chomowicz, Gabriel Polonsky and David Russo, as well as a pair of design and directing teams, live action/puppeteers Tom Megalis and Jenn Bastien and 3D animators/designers Rob Cazin and Lauri Salladay.
The signings raise to 26 the number of directors represented by the company, which opened in July 2003 as a talent-based visual toolbox for both agencies and clients. The company is represented by Gilles De Bonfilhs on the West Coast and in New York by David Goldman.
Atlanta-based John Ryan is a traditional cel animator whose illustrative, outside-the-line style has graced projects for McCann Erickson, Young & Rubicam, J. Walter Thompson, BBDO, Austin Kelly, Hallmark Entertainment, the Discovery Channel, Disney's Yellow Shoes Creative Group and Cartoon Network. The former Click 3X/Atlanta director has received recognition from the BDAs, Tellys, Addys, Monitors, commercial Emmys and Animation Magazine's Anicomm awards. His short film "Glimmer," received awards from Worldfest/Flagstaff (Gold), Hopes and Dreams Festival (Best Animation), and ASIFA East (Best Animation Design). "The Z Animation model offers great service and total support, and Peter's agency background and artistic sensibilities bring a lot of polish. I'm excited to be with the company," Ryan stated.
The versatile, irreverent Howie Hoffman recently directed the cutout animation short, "Bad Phone Sex"(featuring Chris Rock) for HBO; animated action figures for Nickelodeon's "Action League Now," stop-motion pixellated kids for a series of Toon Disney promos, and spots for the launch of Spike TV's animation block. He is most proud of the animation workshops for kids he's taught for 20 years at Camp Androscoggin in Wayne, Maine. "I grew up loving the humor of illusion, and its illusion that makes animation so wonderful and has given rise to my somewhat silly style," Hoffman says.
Six-time Emmy winner David Chomowicz recently completed his first project for Z Animation, a four-spot package for BASF and agency Brighton/St. Louis. A leading broadcast designer and brander, his clients include HBO, Noggin, CBS, Broadway Video, PBS, and Bravo. The BDA, Print Magazine, the AIGA and the New York Art Directors Club have honored his work. "I believe in the power of design to help companies engage their audiences and drive their markets," he says. "The purpose of my work is to make people care more about my client's brand than they do about a competitor's."
The team of Rob Cazin and Lauri Salladay adds a true 3D design and animation dimension to the Z lineup. Their style of branded entertainment has garnered numerous awards, including a gold and silver Promax, as well as a national Emmy for Cazin. Recent projects include a series of six History Channel holiday IDs, A&E's "War of 1812" campaign, and show packaging for History Channel's "Last Days of World War II" and "Full Throttle." Cazin and Salladay have also created a series of CGI shorts, "The Farminals," which debuted this year on INHD, the first all-HDTV network. "Peter is building an impressive stable of directors and artists," says Cazin. We're thrilled to be regarded as one of his 'go-to' studios. We anticipate great success from our association."
Emmy-nominated Gabriel Polonsky is a specialist in stop-motion and clay animation. The former Olive Jar Animation director also has completed his first project at Z Animation, two spots for Alliance Health Care and agency Adamson/St. Louis. Polonsky is an adjunct professor of character animation at the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley College and an instructor of animation at Harvard and Brandeis Universities and the Boston Museum School.
Seattle-based David Russo was recently named one of Filmmaker Magazine's "25 New Faces of Independent Film." His two most recent short films, "Pan With Us" and "Populi," premiered in back to back years at the Sundance Film Festival, with the former receiving honorable mention in addition to the Best Animation award at the 2002 San Francisco International Film Festival. Self-taught, Russo's non-narrative films are largely stop motion and animated in camera. He is artist in residence at Seattle's 911 Media Arts Center.
Working in a more traditional vein is former Click 3X animator Robert Pope, who has directed spots for Cartoon Network, Culligan, Ronzoni, the Atlanta Braves, Raid and Chachere Spices, drawing on classic influences that include Warner Bros, Disney, UPA and Hanna-Barbera. The roster is completed by the team of Tom Megalis and Jenn Bastien. Megalis, a widely known illustrator, has directed hundreds of spots for clients such as Nestle's, Herrs Chips and Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Bastien, a former animation student of Megalis' at Pittsburgh's Point Park College, specializes in 3D sculpture, puppet animation, set design/construction and character design. Her credits include Nickelodeon's "The Amanda Show" and "Kablam," MTV, the Discovery Channel, Voice Net and The Pittsburgh Zoo.
"Our entire emphasis is on the creative talent, not the technology," says Peter Barg. "Technology is finally doing what it was supposed to do-leave the animator free to create, cut down on overhead and markups and create more efficiency. The model of a spot animation studio is changing, and Z is going to be on the crest of that wave. This is more than just a great mix of talent. We have put together a group of directors, animators, illustrators and creators who understand how to produce anywhere, under any circumstances."
Z Animation can be reached by calling Peter Barg at (310)235-1476 or visit http://zanimation.tv. The company is repped on the West Coast by Gilles Debonfilhs at (818)788-3309 and in New York by David Goldman at (212)807-6627.
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