Former heads of MGM Animation, Paul Sabella and Jonathan Dern, have teamed up to create a new independent studio SD Entertainment, based in Canoga Park, California. The duo’s main goal is be a ‘property launcher,’ to develop, enhance and rebrand global intellectual properties. The first project for the studio is Make Way For Noddy, producing 100 10-minute episodes for U.K.-based Chorion.
At MGM, the pair made its mark over the last eight years with a variety of series and feature film projects, including The Pink Panther, All Dogs Go to Heaven 2, Babes in Toyland and The Lionhearts. Upon leaving MGM Animation and prior to forming SD, Sabella and Dern developed and now serve as producers on the Hasbro/Fox Kids hit series Action Man, actual physical production of which is handled by Canadian prodco Mainframe Entertainment.
‘Going independent has given us the freedom to select the best partners for our talents and our long-term business plans,’ says Dern. ‘And by teaming with renowned global entities, we have the ability to create unique franchise management opps across a variety of platforms, including TV, video, games, Internet, publishing, film and merchandising.’
Though their backgrounds are in traditional 2-D animation, Sabella and Dern’s Action Man and Noddy are rendered in state-of-the-art CGI. The company’s digital asset management system allows it to take art created during animation production and simultaneously turn it around for use in all manner of merchandising, marketing and promotion. SD Entertainment retains underlying animation resources from each production for use in its future animated product.
The company currently has more than 12 of its own original projects in various stages of development. ‘Our ultimate goal is to produce films and series based on our own intellectual properties,’ says Sabella. ‘But we couldn’t be happier with our current alliances and production partners.’