Red Star 3D: COMING SOON TO A CINEMA NEAR YOU
Sheffield based animation studio Red Star 3D celebrated their 15th anniversary this month. They marked the occasion with their first ever feature length film, STARDOG AND TURBOCAT; a family animation, which finally delivers on that age-old question ‘where do superheroes get their superpowers from?’ Already 17 months into production, the film, the first of its kind to be produced in Yorkshire, premiered on the international film festival circuit in the autumn, before hitting the UK’s big screen this Christmas.
Red Star 3D’s two founders, Jan Rogowski and Ben Smith are fulfilling a lifelong ambition to scale up their team and produce a feature length film. Based in Electric Works, Sheffield, a hub for creative and digital SME’s and high growth firms in the city, Red Star 3D built their business on short form 3D and 4D attraction films.
Having moved from Sheffield Tech Parks to Electric Works in 2009 in order to grow, the self-financing studio carved out an enviable share of this niche entertainment market. From their Sheffield studio Red Star 3D positioned themselves as leading makers and licence holders for attraction animations, working with the top two global distributors. But feature length films were always the goal they were striving towards as Co-Founder Jan explains, “Ben and I met when I was a student at Bradford University. He was my lecturer and soon after I graduated, we started working together on animations. We set up Red Star 3D in Sheffield with a long-term plan to produce feature length films. But it isn’t something you can jump straight into. We’ve had to build our talent base and our finances.
“Operating as a license holder of our animations has afforded us the space, we needed to step back from attraction production and focus on our first major feature length film project. The first of many we hope!”
It took the award-winning studio two years to write the children’s film, which features the voices of stars Luke Evans, Nick Frost, Gemma Arterton and Bill Nighy. Thanks to their Sheffield ties and private sector match funding, Red Star 3D raised capital through Screen Yorkshire, generating investor confidence early on, before striking a game-changing deal with a London based investment fund to cash flow the remainder of the project. The core team of eight, quickly grew to 35, expanding out into three units within Electric Works and creating a studio large enough to support the scale of the project, kit and team.
Jan remembers this period of rapid business growth as “that time that we didn’t sleep very much”. He adds, “Quite aside from raising the funds, which of course is a major part of the growth journey, we had to source and employ a large number of highly skilled, committed and creative people quickly, to deliver on the investments that were made.
“We are fortunate that we were based in Electric Works, which offers flexible work spaces, configured to the needs of growing businesses and is totally geared up to this type of digital business in terms of the way the network handles and even down to the layout of the comms room. But we were equally lucky that we’d made Sheffield our home, because it was the draw of the lifestyle that can be achieved in this city and the affordability of it, that enabled us to attract the talent we needed. You can not underestimate the importance of your workspace provision or the magnetic qualities of your location, when it comes to scaling a business.”
Red Star 3D employ animators, modelers, layout artists, creative directors, producers and IP managers. Within the Electric Works based team, 15 nationalities and three continents are represented. And following the release of STARDOG AND TURBOCAT, the co-founders and their team have big plans to grow the studio’s feature film production portfolio; creating more jobs within Sheffield and feeding the city’s growing reputation as a hub for digital media businesses.