Fun Academy Makes Movie Magic in Columbus

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Written by David Bost


Did you know that a major motion picture company is near RiverPark Campus? The Fun Academy, a local film animation studio with a newly opened facility in Columbus, is creating an animated movie about a WWI hero. Fun Academy is currently just a distribution center, but Jacey Jenkins, the Director of Outreach, says that may change soon.

“We plan to get the Georgia film industry to expand to Columbus—especially in the case of animation,” Jenkins said. “This could add three or four hundred jobs to the area.”

Jordan Beck, Director of Communications, added, “Animation doesn’t require huge sets and filming facilities. You have film makers creating movies in their basement. Downtown Columbus attracts these creators and we are able to utilize the Audio Technology program, the Georgia Film Academy, as well as the talent at the Springer Opera House and CSU Theatre departments.”

“Sgt. Stubby,” a film currently in the works by Fun Academy, is about a mutt from Connecticut who is rescued and befriended by a young man shipping off to fight overseas. Stubby is smuggled abroad, where he uses his canine senses to smell gas attacks and save lives. The movie is currently slated for an April 2018 release.

Fun Academy has four interns who are CSU students, and more have been used for scratch tracks to help animators have something to work with during production.

When asked, “What is it like working on a movie?” Beck responded, “It is kind of like watching digital paint dry. It’s 90 percent boredom and 10 percent sheer panic.” While distribution is completely taking place here in Columbus, the pre-production took place in Paris, France and Montreal, Canada. During this stage of production, research and story boarding are done.

“Generally, these storyboards are taken to an animation company and they are just told to execute them,” Beck said, “but in this case Mikros Image has been involved almost since day one.” After the preproduction was finished, the project moved to Montreal, where a team of over 80 people painstakingly go through a process called “rigging.” This is when an animator takes a digital wire frame of the character and creates “joints” to make their movement. The production process can take upwards of a year. “This movie lends itself to animation,” Beck said. “And there is really no other animated media about WWI, so this is truly a one-of-a-kind project.”

Jenkins spoke to the number of groups this movie can affect. “This movie is for anyone who likes history, especially WWI, anyone who likes dogs, kids, animated movies, and even education,” she said. Beck added, “This isn’t an education movie per-say. It’s an economically viable movie with an education backbone. We are working on creating materials that can go with the movie so children and even teachers can learn more about this part of history that is over shadowed by its sequel.”