First find the coffee machine. Then work can begin on improving the pipeline for DHX’s upcoming shows on Apple’s new TV+ SVOD, Netflix and Nickelodeon; and of course develop new business and growth opportunities. When Amir Nasrabadi‘s joins DHX on June 10, he has a plan in place.
Just last week it was announced that Illumination’s EVP of finance and operations would be leaving the film studio to take over DHX’s Vancouver animation studio as EVP and general manager.
At the new office, he says, he has three main areas of focus. First, his goal is to make sure the culture is healthy and vibrant so the studio can thrive creatively. The second is to identify opportunities for improvement across the animation process, production pipeline or overall quality of projects. “And then the other thing I’d like to bring to the table is growth opportunities, whether they be new business development type things or both internal as well,” says Nasrabadi. “I think my priorities will evolve as I get there and sink my teeth in, as they should.”
His focus on operational minutia makes sense when you take into account his background as VP and general manager at Pixar Canada and VP of finance and operation at Disney Studios before that.
“As part of operations is closely aligned with the culture, I will be working hand-in-glove with creative, but I’m more in a supporting role in that regard,” says Nasrabadi.
While he’s got experience working with a wide spectrum of content, he says one of this biggest challenges will be shifting from film to TV production.
The closest he’s come to working in TV before was doing short-form work at Pixar Canada, yet DHX’s work is a fair bit heavier. The prodco is underway on production for new Peanuts series, specials and shorts based on the classic comic strip franchise for Apple’s new TV+ SVOD. The studio is also working on original series Chip and Potato and Carmen Sandiego for Netflix, and Dorg van Dango with Ireland’s Cartoon Saloon for Nickelodeon.
“There’s a lot of transferable skills and knowledge that I can apply and luckily there are plenty of experts at DHX that will help me get up to speed,” he says. “I think that this is the future, at the highest level there’s a shifting media landscape in conjunction with evolving consumer preferences. This presents endless opportunities for short-form kids content now and into the future, and I really want to be a part of that.”
Another appealing aspect to this new position was that DHX recently merged its studio operations under one roof out West after closing its East Coast studio at the end of last year. DHX revealed in November that it was selling its Halifax studio to a local company called IOM Media Ventures, and moving all animation production to the Vancouver outfit, which opened in early 2016. Its headquarters remain in Halifax, but the move is part of its ongoing strategic shift to streamline production operations.
“I think that bringing the studio together under one roof in Vancouver is very important, both from an operation and culture perspective,” says Nasrabadi. “I see a lot of potential and a lot of opportunities when you have that situation rather than a number of more fragmented studios, so that’s a very attractive thing to me.”
But he also notes, that moving from Los Angeles to the animation studio’s Vancouver location was pretty attractive as well, calling it “one of Earth’s most beautiful cities and one of my personal favorites” which of course sweetened the deal at least a little bit.