19/12/23 • News & Happenings

That’s a Wrap for 2023!

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2023 – it’s been a heck of a year. Much of our news has been shared throughout the year via our social media, but there are also some tid-bits of studio-life that you might not have known about… until now!

Here are some of our highlights from the year.

A meeting of our Book Keepers’ Club

January – March

We hit the ground running as soon as 2022 was out the door! A brand-new onboarding programme was launched in early January that complemented our existing induction training for all new crew. After spending a day getting to know where everything is in the studio and meeting their teammates, new crew members are then invited to a morning session which introduces them to our Operations director and team, the opportunities for career growth with Learning & Development, ways they can collaborate and promote their talent with Comms & PR, and of course our all-important HR & Payroll procedures. Great work, team!

January also saw the launch of our brand-new Book Keepers’ Club – a fortnightly theme-centric discussion about our favourite books, in the cosy environment of our Lighthouse Library. Check out some of the review blogs we’ve published!

Book Review Blog for International Women’s Day

Book Review Blog for Pride Month

In February, key members of the team landed in Miami for Kidscreen 2023, where they joined over 1,800 attendees for discussion on topics and trends affecting the content industry. While there, Managing Director, Claire Finn, and Development Producer, Antonio Caamano, met with animation legend, Tom Bancroft, who we are very excited to reveal we will be spending some more time with in 2024. Watch this space!

In February, we also casually announced that Lighthouse would be animating several episodes for the upcoming season of Rick and Morty – which excited our followers no end!

General Counsel, Rob Grimes, in full swing during a monthly Legal Lunch + Learn

In March, we launched our monthly Lunch & Learns, dedicated to the legalities of animation production, from both a studio and crew perspective. Led by Rob Grimes, General Counsel, these sessions are intended to give a general overview of applicable creative legislation while also providing valuable information for crew members creating their own content.

March also saw Claire participating in the ACE Producers Animation Special in Dingle where she brainstormed and finessed the production strategy for Stage Struck! our brand-new co-production with Derry studio, Dog Ears.

Assistant Director, Paul Madden, and Line Producer, Ruchi Shah, accepting the Irish Animation Kids’ Choice Award

April – June

The brand-new Lighthouse Learning Hub was officially launched in April, providing all crew with an online library of on-demand courses applicable to their individual learning paths. One of the first training sessions uploaded to the learning hub was the two-day character workshop with Stephen Silver which L&D Specialist, Harry Harty, arranged for all crew to attend and which was recorded live on the day. Thanks to Stephen Silver for the wonderful workshop!

In April, we also hosted Green Portal, the production company behind Rick and Morty, for a week-long visit where they got to spend time with each department working on Season 7. It was so exciting to officially kick the production off and receive signed copies of the Art of Rick and Morty! Plus, we met with the Evergreen U-12s team at our studio. We sponsor the team’s jerseys and our finance director, Marc Jordan, is head coach of the team. It was a lively day full of Coca-Cola fuelled excitement as the boys learned all about how the magic is made.

Our Finance Director, Marc Jordan and the Evergreen U12s Boys Team

In May, we were beyond excited to attend the Irish Animation Awards in Galway, where The Cuphead Show! really doubled down, winning both Best Animation Sequence and the Kids Choice award! Major shout out to all the Cuphead team, especially Julius Mingi, Dindo Santos and Gian Carla Atienza who worked on the winning Cuphead sequence in the Best Animation Sequence category.

Our suite of Portfolio Tips for third-level students was also published in May, thanks to a collaborative effort between Layout & Backgrounds, Rigging, Animation, FX, Compositing, Editing, Learning & Development and Communications. The publications are made available to education providers for distribution amongst their students and aim to give a considered breakdown of what hiring managers in the animation industry really look for in an application.

June is of course Annecy month! A number of our team flew over to meet with various creatives and discuss our development slate. It was really exciting to be there for the Rick and Morty special, when Producer, Steve Levy, gave our team a shout out for their work on the series.

Claire Finn and Head of Production, Cormac Slevin with Tom and Tony Bancroft at Annecy 2023

Meanwhile in June we also launched our Wall of Fame – an internal showcase of crew members who have moved on and left us with wonderful memories of their time here.

Summer Party 2023

July – September

July and the halfway point of the year seemed to rock around very quickly! In July we threw our annual summer party – Lunch on the Lighthouse Lawn. Em, it was a little rainy. BUT still an epic celebration complete with Irish dancing, fun activities, delicious food and a range of beverages (some with a kick)!

In July we attended Traveller Pride in Butler Gallery and caught up with Helena Power and Samantha Joyce from Kilkenny Traveller Community Movement. Travellers are a minority group that have been an integral part of Irish Society for centuries, yet often face discrimination and bias. Helena opened with a few words about the importance of events that celebrate and educate on Traveller culture and Samantha read several poems relating to the Traveller experience. On a side note, Samantha’s work was published this year in the anthology, In My Own Words: See Me Now , so be sure to check it out!

August brought with it the first announcements from Kilkenny Animated about the upcoming programme – an exciting time which allowed us to share with the world something we had been working on with Cartoon Saloon all year! Although an active participant and supporter of KKA in previous years, this was the first year that Lighthouse was involved as a co-owner, after we joined forces with the festival’s creators, Cartoon Saloon and Schweppe Curtis Nunn Events earlier in the year.

In fact, in August we were super busy preparing for a number of upcoming events and all the press-related obligations that come with that. It’s tough at the top!

The Stage Struck! team post-pitch at Cartoon Forum

A lot of these events took place in September, when we had Cartoon Forum, Culture Night and of course the Kilkenny Animated Festival. Cartoon Forum was incredibly exciting, as Stage Struck! had been accepted earlier in the year for the live pitch sessions. That meant that Claire, LHS Head Creative, Gilly Fogg, John McDaid (Dog Ears) and Fionnuala Deane (Dog Ears), put on the show of a lifetime live on stage for a packed audience. Incidentally, the Stage Struck! pitch was one of the top ten most attended coproduction pitches this year – pretty cool!

Claire Finn, John McDaid, Fionnuala Deane and Gilly Fogg onstage with Stage Struck! at this year’s Cartoon Forum

Culture Night is a community celebration of artistic heritage that takes place in towns across Ireland every September. This year, we were delighted to stream El Deafo via Apple TV+, our BAFTA winning special about a young Cece Bell who must adjust to sudden hearing loss, to a closed audience of young and old alike, all of whom thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

Animator, Marty Broski, and FX Artist, Luca Zupancic, lead a sketching tour during Kilkenny Animated 2023

At the end of September, it was time for Kilkenny Animated! Over the last Friday in September and the first weekend in October, Kilkenny was taken over by creative professionals from across the globe! Headline events this year included the Kilkenny premiere of Jim Capobianco’s The Inventor (recently longlisted for an Academy Award!), a Star Wars: Visions Afternoon Special with special guest, audio guru Mac Smith, who was joined by the directors of three of the episodes from Volume 2, and a live gig from Kila, whose folk music is instantly recognisable and has featured in several features from Cartoon Saloon. We were also delighted to welcome the Screen Composers Guild for a day-long music composition workshop, and to launch our Pathways to Animation Programme in association with NTAA! Such a fantastic weekend. Watch this space for announcements of next year’s festival or bookmark Kilkennyanimated.com.

Star Wars: Visions Volume 2 Afternoon Special at Kilkenny Animated. Photo by Allen Kiely.

Title Slide from our Week Two video during ADHD Awareness Month

October – December

October was ADHD month, and our EDI team developed an awareness campaign that was delivered in video and slide format throughout each week in the month. Huge thanks to the crew members who provided their honest and informed experiences of living with ADHD.

In October, Lead Background Artist, Sarah Sloyer, delivered two wonderful illustration workshops as part of Bookville 2023 – a local initiative that celebrates books and encourages youngsters to get involved in reading, writing and artistic endeavours. Animator Polly Holland also participated by developing a fun double-page activity spread for this year’s Festival in a Book.

Sarah Sloyer with budding artists at Bookville 2023

At the end of the month, it was time for our third Show and Tell of the year. Our Show and Tells are an internal event dedicated to the incredible work happening in the studio. It’s a time when every department gets to see what each other is working on, and then have a few chats, snacks and drinks afterwards. Can you tell which date our October Show and Tell fell on?

Just some of the special guests in attendance at October’s Show and Tell

Marc Jordan deep in conversation at Cartoon Business in November. Photo Copyright of Cartoon 2023

Gilly was invited to speak at November’s Culture Crush event on the panel Creative Ireland on the Global Stage. The event was run by Cultural and Creative Industries Skillnet and offered attendees a day-long programme packed to the brim with inspiring and engaging discussion. Gilly thoroughly enjoyed the event and we are looking forward to the next one!

Also in November, Finance Director Marc, who keeps us all on the straight and narrow, completed an 8-day intensive course in International Business for Film and TV with Angus Finney, in association with Screen Ireland, and attended Cartoon Business in Gran Canaria in the middle of it all! Marc fully immersed himself in both experiences, topping up his extensive knowledge of the business side of animation while also forging new connections in the industry.

December – it can’t be the end of the year already? So far this month we’ve welcomed Netflix to our studio for inspirational chats and a tour of the building in which The Cuphead Show! was animated, participated in a week of creative brainstorming with Heath Kenny of You and Eye Creative, partied hard at our year-end Festive Fiesta and of course started hiring for our brand-new feature film!

Antonio. Claire, Heath, Gilly, Rob and Marc fending off the cold for this lovely shot outside our studio

We’ve given just a few highlights here, but there were TONS of highlights we could have included, such as starting work on Pog mo Pidgeon, our first original short, scheduled for release in 2024, rolling out our Wellbeing calendar, putting together our Sustainable Development Plan, introducing lots of new talent to our teams, working on a top secret production (more details shared soon, promise!), The Cuphead Show! directors, Clay Morrow and Adam Paloian, taking home the Emmy for Outstanding Direction in December, and lots, lots more. There were also crew-led initiatives such as the Life Drawing Sessions organised by Assistant Director, Cliodhna Lyons, and the latest edition of the crew Zine, managed by Rigging Artist, Colm Dowling and several other Lighthouse crew.

Unfortunately, this blog can only be so long. If you want to know more about what we’re up to and what’s next for us, keep an eye on our Careers page! Who knows, you might just learn the information first-hand.

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