Work-for-hire animation studios are rarely in the public spotlight, but that reality has not slowed the rising fortunes of Clint Eland. As president, founder and executive producer of Mercury Filmworks, a Vancouver, Canada-based full-service animation company, Eland has quickly established a name for himself in the service sector.
Formed in 1998 when Eland was just 24, Mercury has grown from a staff of three to 180, and has done work for studios including Nelvana, Disney Television and Feature Animation and Decode Entertainment. Through its offices in Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa, Mercury offers scripting, digital, paint and compositing, 2-D, 3-D and post-production services. The company’s point of difference is its attention to detail.
‘If you’re absolutely looking for the cheapest price, we’re probably not the place you’d come to; our reputation has far more to do with quality of work,’ says Eland.
Although Mercury has no trouble getting TV jobs (during any given week, it’s working on two to three series), Eland is hoping to diversify its project slate with more features.
The company is co-producing a 3-D stop-frame movie called Edison & Neemo with fellow Vancouver company Perfect Circle. The film follows the adventures of famed inventor Thomas Edison and his son, and will head into production next spring.
It’s been a dizzying ascent for Eland, who in June received the Alliance for Children and Television’s Emerging Talent award, which recognizes companies and individuals destined for big things.
Now Eland is poised for the next stage of his company’s evolution. At MIPCOM, he will shop for partners for Mercury’s first two proprietary series – Chuckles ‘N Knuckles, a 2-D animated tween show (52 x 11 minutes) about two circus cast-offs living in a trailer park; and the teen-targeted Realitoon, a 26 x half-hour spoof of reality shows optioned from Toronto’s Plates Animation.
While Eland is excited about producing his own shows, work-for-hire projects currently account for 90% of the company’s business. ‘We’re not looking to change that anytime soon,’ he says. ‘We want to be here as a support structure for producers, not to compete with them for broadcast slots.’