Sinking Ship launches animation division

The live-action/hybrid-CG specialists has brought in former Brown Bag exec Tanya Green to lead its latest venture. Co-founder J.J. Johnson breaks down why the company is getting into animated series and what the prodco has in store.
May 2, 2019

Sinking Ship Entertainment is broadening its remit: Known for its successful live-action and hybrid series like Dino Dana, Annedroids and Odd Squad, the Toronto prodco is delving into pure play animation for the first time. To lead the new department, the company has tapped former 9 Story/Brown Bag exec Tanya Green (pictured) as its head of animated series.

The decision to broaden its scope was meant to support a wider range of creative capabilities and to tell stories from diverse showrunners, says Sinking Ship’s co-founder J.J. Johnson. 

“As we moved into live-action features and as more ideas came up we could just see that there was going to be a limit to what some of our live-action/CG-blended shows could do,” says Johnson.

In the past, ideas would come up that could have worked best as an animation series, but the prodco wouldn’t pursue them because it was solely focused on sticking to its live-action forte, says Johnson.

“I love live action and believe it’s the best way to teach kids about the world, by showing them the real thing,” says Johnson. However, animation opens up the prodco’s ability to explore new worlds and new storytelling styles. “We also want to keep testing ourselves and part of that is to put ourselves in scary situations.”

This is where Green comes in. An Emmy- and Canadian Screen Award-winning producer with more than 15 years of experience in animation production, she joined Sinking Ship in March. Prior to coming on board, Green was the VP of production at 9 Story’s Brown Bag Films where she oversaw, managed and produced its animated content, such as Peg + Cat. Green originally served as 9 Story’s head of production before being promoted to the Brown Bag role in 2014.

Prior to Brown Bag Films, she worked as a producer and production manager at Canadian prodco Breakthrough, where she managed its film and TV production, including animated series Atomic Betty.

“We were looking for someone who brought in that baseline experience but who was also eager to tell different stories and bring different voices into the mix,” says Johnson. “[Green] has been masterful already in terms of getting us insight into where the animation business has been and where she thinks it needs to go.”

There are plans to bring on more staff to its team of 150 employees in order to fill out the department. Specifically, Johnson is looking for new talent that reaches out to underrepresented voices in the storytelling and animation fields.

“We’re hoping to spread a wider net and find people whose stories haven’t been told,” says Johnson. “The way we do this is we expose ourselves to new voices and fresh perspectives to make sure we are accurately reflecting the entirety of our audience, not just the majority.”

Outside of starting the new division, the prodco has been busy these past few months co-producing a third season of Odd Squad, distributing the Aquarius Films series The Unlisted to Netflix in April, and picking up second-window TV distribution rights to Amazon kids original Just Add Magic.

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