07/12/21 • News & Happenings

Top News From 2021

Back to Spotlight

Catching up with crew online

With the end of the year fast approaching, we thought we’d take a minute to look back over the past 12 months and all that we’ve achieved.  

There’s no escaping the fact that COVID has made things pretty difficult. A lot of our artists have been unable to join us in Ireland, which has meant finding new ways to collaborate across many different time zones. Ever-changing restrictions have made it difficult for our teams to get to know one another in person, and as a result many of our social activities and team-building events have had to be postponed.  

Despite all this, we’ve still got a lot to be proud of.  

Here is a reminder of some of the things that made us jump for joy in 2021.  

“Very appealing and easy to recommend” 

Find out what else LA Times critic, Robert Lloyd, had to say about Little Ellen here!  

Little Ellen Released to the World 

First and foremost, we were over the moon to see the warm reception Little Ellen received when the first 8 episodes dropped back in September. The show features a young Ellen DeGeneres as she navigates the world with her trusted companions, Becky and Freckle. 

The series has been widely praised for its stylish execution, educational content and diverse representations. “It’s right up our street in terms of content” Claire Finn, Lighthouse Studios’ MD said recently. “High-quality animation with a thoughtful, diverse and inclusive message.” 

We animated this heart-warming show from Warner Bros. Animation, and all work was carried out remotely. We’re pretty proud of that! More episodes of Little Ellen are scheduled to drop over the coming months. 


El Deafo Trailer and Release Date Announced

We were over the moon with the news that El Deafo will be released on Apple TV+ on the 7th of January 2022.

Directed by our head creative, Gilly Fogg, and line produced by Martin Quaden, El Deafo has been in production at Lighthouse since 2019, and we have been involved in this adaptation since the very beginningWorking closely with our partners in Apple TV+ and author, Cece Bell, we’ve produced everything from concept artwork and voice records through to the final picture.  

The three-part animated series is based on Cece Bell’s New York Times bestselling graphic novel memoir and tells the story of a young Cece as she tries to navigate the world after losing her hearing, with the help of her superhero alter ego, El Deafo.

We can’t wait till audiences get to see this gorgeous three-part animated series!

Audiences Treated to Sneak Peek of Cuphead, Mugman and King Dice 

Netflix’s first ever Geeked Week took place during the second week of June. Its aim was to celebrate “all things genre entertainment at Netflix”, and the daily streams offered sneak peeks of upcoming shows and new releases. One of the most eagerly anticipated teasers to feature was that of The Cuphead Show.  

Based on the hugely popular video game by Studio MDHR, the new Netflix show features stunning 2D visuals that hark back to the Fleischer cartoons of the 1930s. Fans were also treated to the news that Wayne Brady, of Whose Line is it Anyway fame, will voice the villainous King Dice. 

With almost 5million views of the YouTube clip of Brady as King Dice – a clip produced by the crew here at Lighthouse – it’s pretty clear that anticipation is mounting for the release of this fan favourite. 

We are in development on three short original films pitched by our own crew, alongside some very interesting co-production discussions with creatives in various countries.”

Read the full interview with Claire Finn here!

Plans to Develop Own IP Announced 

In the four years since we were first founded, our crew has grown to over 250 artists from across the globe. Drawing on this abundance of diverse talent, we recently decided to take the plunge and create our very own animated short.  

The move represents a significant step forward in our ambitions to develop our unique voice within the industry and was welcomed by crew who were given the chance to submit their own ideas as part of the process. After a series of pitch development workshops, talks and presentations, the entries were whittled down to a shortlist of three contenders, with the final concept for production to be announced over the coming months. 

However, this is not the only original work on the cards, with Claire Finn telling Animation Magazine of plans to produce an acquired “gritty adult tale set in in an Irish town at the turn of the century, when Ireland changed forever.” We are currently on the lookout for a showrunner who will oversee the development of the story.  

Read more about our busy slate here

Character turnaround created by Anna Lynch, TY student

Lighthouse Launches Transition Year Programme 

In January, we ran a pilot work placement programme for Transition Year students from Loreto Secondary School and Kilkenny College. The programme invited 5 local students to come and learn all about the inner workings of the animation industry. It was run entirely online – a necessity, given that Ireland was on the highest level of lockdown at the time. The pilot was a great success, and a follow up programme was launched in the spring with an intake of 15 students.  

Listen to Emilie Walmsley discuss the programme with Sue Nunn of KCLR.


This new role as Head Creative allows me to oversee and act as the ‘creative guardian’ for all of our projects and collaborate with the creative talent in our partner studios.

Read Gilly Fogg’s full interview with Animation Magazine here!

Three Strategic New Roles Created at the Studio 

While all of this has been going on, we’ve also been busy working in the background making sure our stall is fully aligned and staffed for all new challenges. As part of this, we created three new strategic roles at the studio – Head Creative, Head of Production, and Operations Director.  

Our new Head Creative position was filled by our very own Gilly Fogg. Gilly was one of the founding members of Lighthouse, moving to Kilkenny in 2017 to direct the studio’s inaugural series, the much-loved Bug Diaries for Amazon. Since then, Gilly has been instrumental in growing Lighthouse from being purely service-oriented to becoming recognised for having its own creative voice. After all, at Lighthouse everything revolves around the creative, whether we service our own IP or that of our partners.  

Gilly Fogg, Head Creative

To execute the creative, we need a robust and strong production team. That’s why we were delighted when Cormac Slevin assumed to role of Head of Production. Like Gilly, Cormac is one of the original Lighthouse Keepers, and first joined the studio back in 2017. He has been leading the studios’ production teams ever since and has witnessed the studio quickly become a powerhouse in global animation, partnering with content giants such as Amazon, Warner Bros. Animation and Netflix. 

Cormac Slevin, Head of Production

Meanwhile, our operations team is essential for supporting creative and production. Enter Erik Speekinbrink, our new Operations Director who joined the studio in July. Erik brought with him a wealth of experience gained from his many years spent managing large and diverse crew operations – though not the animation kind! Working as a hotel director for major cruise companies, Carnival Cruises and Royal Caribbean, Erik was responsible for ensuring that everything ran smoothly and that everyone aboard, crew and passengers, had the best experience they could possibly have. This makes him the perfect candidate to lead the operations department at Lighthouse – a department that is dedicated to not only supporting the core activity of the studio, but also providing a great working environment for all. Welcome aboard, Erik!  

Erik Speekenbrink, Operations Director

Any excuse for cake!

Lighthouse Celebrates its Fourth Birthday 

It was our studios’ fourth birthday in February, an event which unfortunately couldn’t be celebrated in person. However, in true Lighthouse fashion, crew were still fed with delicious cake – most of which was scoffed down by the time the online event kicked off.  

For our fifth birthday next year, we’re looking forward to being able to publicly shout about some of the incredible projects we’ve been working on. On that note, we are gearing up for the first episodes of The Cuphead Show to be streamed on Netflix. We are also excited for the release of a feature that we recently wrapped for a major SVOD provider. Meanwhile, we will be busy developing a children’s series for one of our content partners while also continuing to develop our own IP.  

And we have loads of news that we can’t wait to announce – but we’ll keep that to ourselves for now. Let’s just say, 2022 is shaping up to be our best and busiest yet.  


Back to Spotlight