EXCLUSIVE: Ian Sheppard, the veteran executive most recently SVP Development at Skydance Animation, has been hired as Head of Development at Laika, Travis Knight’s Oregon-based studio that has been nominated for five Animated Feature Oscars including last year’s Missing Link, which won the Golden Globe.
Sheppard had been at Skydance since June 2018, when he came over from DreamWorks Television Animation after being one of the founding members of the development team there, tasked to fill 300 hours of content pipeline to Netflix. That work resulted in series including Boss Baby: Back in Business, Voltron: Legendary Defender and Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts.
Before DWA, Sheppard spent nine years as Executive Director of Development for Nickelodeon Original Movies.
During Sheppard’s Skydance Animation tenure, the company worked on the films Luck and Spellbound, both of which are now heading to Apple.
“Ian’s talent, taste and rare creative sensitivity make us a better studio,” said Laika president and CEO Knight, to whom Sheppard will report. “He draws on a wealth of experience across mediums and genres and brings a vibrant energy to our leadership team. I’m thrilled to welcome Ian to Laika, and look forward to crafting a diverse slate of bold, distinctive and enduring stories.”
Since it was founded in 2015, Laika has seen all five of its feature films nominated for the animation Oscar prize: Coraline (2009), ParaNorman (2012), The Boxtrolls (2014), Kubo and the Two Strings (2016) and Missing Link. Kubo also scored a visual effects Oscar nom and won the animation category at the BAFTAs.
“Laika is a company that represents the highest bar for quality and innovation in animation,” Sheppard said. “I’ve been in awe of their brilliantly original films and I’m thrilled to now contribute to a company that is so devoted to the power and art of storytelling.”