“Growth cannot be measured by just how many seats you are adding, but how many artists you are nurturing, creating and making them ready for the future. Beauty is in creation,” shares 88 Pictures CEO and founder Milind D. Shinde as the studio announces its expansion in Kolkata and Hyderabad.
With the main office in Mumbai, the studio has worked on award winning animated series like Trollhunters Trilogy and a range of animated projects like Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles, 5 More Sleeps ’til Christmas. In conversation with AnimationXpress, the top creative minds revealed more about what spurred on the expansion plan, current style of working, and their plans ahead.
On being asked why they chose these two cities to set up their studio, Shinde added, “We wanted to spend enough time to build a strong base as a studio with a solid foundation that can withstand all the weathers for years to come. Our core philosophy is based on creative excellence, artistic freedom and always staying ahead of the game when it comes to technology. We have built a good management bandwidth and a team of well-rounded individuals who inculcate these philosophies and are the leaders of tomorrow to lead and manage our growth.”
Co-founder and studio head Siddhie Mhambre further mentioned, “88 Pictures is always focused on working on content that is creatively challenging and are some of the best shows in the world. Now it’s time for us to take such work to those artists from these cities who truly deserve to work on some of the high end shows we have lined up for the next three years.”
Speaking about the goals and target of the new studio, co-founder and COO Aby John elaborated, “Kolkata is very rich in artistic talent with some of the best creative minds. Hyderabad has an excellent mix of artistry and technical bent of mind. Both the places we feel are untapped when it comes to making high-end CG animation content or working on very unique creative shows. We have seen some of the best talent from these places who have to go to other cities to be able to work on these high end content.”
He revealed, “We are a growing studio and have artists working with us from all over India. Rather than getting the artist to relocate to our two locations, we thought of going closer to them and hence the expansion to these two cities. Especially after a pandemic when everyone wants to stay close to their home.”
The studio strongly believes that slow and steady growth will be a bigger win for the studio than building in haste. Disclosing the new studios recruiting plans and what the expansion means for the studio, Shinde shared, “It’s not an expansion for us but an extension and a way to get closer to artists. We are not looking at adding hundreds of seats but are looking to build a very boutique feel to each of the studios where no one is lost and everyone knows everyone. It’s a creative home that we want to create rather than just machinery. So we want to stay nimble and grow very slowly and cautiously at each location.”
He further mentioned, “We are in no hurry to grow. We have shows lined up for the next three years and each of these shows are very unique that the artists will truly enjoy working on. Recruitment will start for both the locations now and we are looking for those passionate individuals who want to challenge themselves and at the same time take our brand name two notches up.”
On being asked if they plan on serving domestic projects, the CEO said, “88 Pictures is set up to do a certain type of work. Our technology and artistic strength is best utilized when we are challenged to do something that others have not done or rather no one has done. While we are built and focused to do such type of work which predominantly comes from top studios in the world, we are yet to see such work from the domestic circle. We hope we all will reach there some day to be able to produce high-end work for domestic industry as well.”
Enlarging on the flexibility that they are offering to their workforce, VP IT and studio operations Sudhakar Reddy commented, “88 Pictures is an artist focused studio. Everything that we do is always centered around the people that work with us. We have grown every year and have progressed well in our efforts to give the best working environment and policies for people. It’s always an ongoing process and everything can be better as we go.”
Remote working has been the norm over the past year due to the pandemic, speaking about the possibility of resumption of work from office, Reddy added, “Post pandemic, the way every industry works will definitely change. We need to be open to those changes and offer such flexibility to our employees. Currently we have a hybrid work pattern and have some staff working from home. How this will all shape up, time will tell but we want to offer all the ways for people to work the best, making sure the work does not suffer and the organization goals are kept intact.”
The studio is planning to have a full-fledged setup in both the cities and it will be following a hybrid pattern of working for people. Reddy shared, “As we are in this process of setting it up, we are starting with work from home for both cities for the first few months and will move to the physical setup as soon as the build up is complete. We were the first studio to have successful WFH when the pandemic hit so our tech stack and pipelines are well built and prepared to handle all types of working modules.”
Not revealing more about the studio’s future plans, Shinde concluded by saying, “We are very careful in choosing what kind of shows we want to work on. We have established our brand well over the last five years by doing some of the best looking shows in the world and are competing with some of the studios around the world. We have a very interesting roster of the shows line up. Each show is unique and is creatively challenging that will push the boundary further for everyone and will take us to newer heights. I can’t take names as all these shows are high end and will be announced soon but we are much ahead of the game in everything is all I can say.”