David Andrade is captivated by cartoons.
The first time he saw drawings from the production of the movie Lilo and Stitch, he knew he was going to be an animator.
"I got hooked from that day forward,'' Andrade says about his peek-behind-the-scenes of the 2002 Walt Disney animated release. "There's a beauty to it.''
His interest in drawing, art and animation took him from the Tampa Bay region to Los Angeles, where he worked at large production studios that continued to go bankrupt.
He made his way back to Florida. With his experience and contacts built up through the years, he and some friends decided to develop their own production company based in Tampa called Theory Animation
Andrade and a network of animators work across seven time zones, using cloud software and Skype to stay in touch as they work in different parts of the country and around the globe. Theory Animation represents a growing trend of companies without brick and mortar offices and is uniquely positioned in the Tampa Bay area, where officials look to grow the film and television production industry.
Growing Film And Animation Here
The recently revamped Tampa Hillsborough Film and Digital Media Commission is eyeing expansion of animation and digital media production in the Tampa Bay region.
Cooking, food truck rallies and reality shows are filmed in Hillsborough but the majority of productions are commercials, says Dale Gordon, director of the group. So far, that means a $3.6 million economic impact in Hillsborough County from the 138 TV and film productions permitted since January, according to the commission. The commission plans to release an economic impact report later in the year, Gordon says.
"We are working to identify these companies. … and we need to determine what our strategic footprint is before we move forward and grow it,'' Gordon says. "This is definitely an area we are going to look at over the next year at growing.''
Versatility Is Key
Film and television companies outsource a lot of animation and other digital production to companies outside of Los Angeles. And the film commission is looking to Andrade, and his model, for help to lure companies and production to the Tampa Bay area.
"One thing we have noticed is the world of production has gotten smaller,'' Gordon says. "Production companies have gotten very versatile.''
Just how versatile?
Andrade and his team of animators, writers and sound editors work remotely from coffee shops and other makeshift offices in places like Los Angeles, Chicago and Argentina. They build software and a system to be able to work together. They have meetings through Skype and share ideas through emails and cloud software.
It can take about three months time to put an episode together. About 20 people worked on their most recent Ray & Clovis cartoon, Andrade says.
When an episode or project is complete, it can be broadcast through web-based platforms like Youtube and Vimeo -- sharing the product on a worldwide scale. Andrade says a lot of Ray & Clovis fans hail from Germany.
In the past, Andrade worked on projects including "RIPD,'' "300: Rise of an Empire'' and "Transformers: Fall of Cybertron.''
"All of these films are made remotely,'' Andrade says. "There's almost no need for an office.''
Ray & Clovis Conspire For Fun
If Walt Disney could start an empire with a cartoon short featuring a mouse, Andrade sees limitless potential for Theory Animation and its stars Ray & Clovis.
The following for Ray, a green-mohawked iguana, and Clovis, a blue cat, is increasing through social media. The cartoons are shown at trade shows, festivals and online, where the cartoon images are sold on DVDs and T-shirts. Plans are in the works for more episodes and a short movie, Andrade says. A new episode was recently released.
In the cartoons, which range from a couple minutes to nearly 10, the duo go on adventures and learn life lessons with a bit of humor along the way.
The goal is to create a brand of family-friendly animated cartoons that are relatable on a large scale, not just pop-culture specific, Andrade says.
Episodes are available to view on the Ray & Clovis website as well as Youtube.
"We put all of that stuff up there. …It’s not a bad thing to put it on the world's biggest platform for video,'' Andrade says.
Not a bad thing for a company without an office.
Jared Leone is a freelance writer living in Clearwater. He writes about all things Tampa Bay. Follow him @jared_leone on Twitter. Comments? Contact 83 Degrees.