Prologue: Pump & Cham and Pai
From director Christopher Wade:
A little about myself, you ask? Well, by day, I play a mild-mannered Creative Director who's working to build an imaginative animation studio here in Germantown MD, but by night...by night I AM...pretty much the same thing it seems, just with less sleep, haha! My name is Christopher Wade and I run Spark-Flow Studios! We still operate offsite actually, we haven't a central office-space we convene at. For now, everything is from our homes and we email source files to one another. How and why? Well, everything is currently funded off my own paycheck.
I've always been sort of a zany kind of guy; when I was a kid, after I watched an amazing cartoon of sorts (maybe "Little Nemo in Slumberland" or "Fievel Goes West"), I'd write my own animated plays and movies; after which I'd run outside, acting out ALL the roles whenever the weather permitted. Twenty years of hindsight says I was a bit weird but, man, I loved creating fictional worlds for myself! I guess it kind of carried over into something more socially accessible to be honest.
Well, that got old. I didn't have much fun doing any of that college stuff (being a Librarian was cool, however). Graduating in 2006 led to jobs that I was never really happy with: working at a warehouse, or as a multimedia specialist at a healthcare firm. These jobs were in a way forcing me to daydream and to write about the fantastic adventures I wish I'd be having, about people I found the most interesting in my life (or maybe it was the ADD). I yearned for a job here in Maryland that satisfied my need to create cartoons. But where would I go? Maryland was no place for cartoons apparently and the pathetic wages I earned at work kept me from going to the states that actually had animation jobs, never minding the competition in places like California. Not to mention, left and right, I was told my art wasn't good enough (ironically by people who, even though they were a lot better than me at illustration, hadn't the animation jobs they themselves craved...or by employers who, though they had knowledge in animation, possessed little grasp of how to translate their imagination into something visually concrete or enjoyable). Both a job of sorts AND a thorough grasp of pouring out my creativity was what I had in spades.
So I took one hard look at my life, realized how unhappy I was, and forced myself to let go of a lot of things. One of which was my search for an animation job, which became secondary. I needed to put the creativity that energized me since childhood into reality, even if I had to pay for it off my own dime doing embarassing grunt work. Basically, I had to do it myself and believe that somehow, God was going to pave a way for me. On November 3rd of 2009, I drove away to Baltimore with my best bud Joseph Magnanelli, where I registered the name of my studio in the Department of Assessments and Taxations. Spark-Flow Studios was born and I had already copywritten concepts for three animated series I aimed to create.
And so I got in contact with some very talented artists around the D.C. area. Todd Chum was a great asset to the team as a flash animator and my good friend/illustrator Rachel Fogg recommended Petery Heydt as a powerful traditional animator to the achieve that "old school" Disney look! Jennifer Dutton provided the basis for the wonderful backgrounds we see in the prologue to the first episode of our first animated series, "Pumpk & Cham and Pai." I was honored with the performance of Michelle Allegra Murad lending her voice as Pai, the upcoming teenage witch! My brother, Tyrone Selby, even assisted as an Associate Producer providing his film experience. The staff names go on, but I'm very blessed to have them all on board! But in order to even begin our journey in providing people with a higher class of animation, we needed money.
The next job I took would be as a Production Assistant at a television studio in Virginia. You know, the little guy who does everything? The job itself at first was hectic. It literally almost killed me the first two weeks. But the experience itself was much-needed, as was the money I desired to fund the freelancers to animate a Halloween-themed animation I had in mind.
The experience as cameraman gave me the know-how in creating the shots you see in "Pumpk & Cham and Pai" (PC & P). The experience as a crew member improved my initiative in taking command in stressful situations with the artists I hired. Even providing quality control of near-finished footage, one of the most agonizingly boring responsibilities anyone could take on, trained my eye to quickly catch animation mistakes and to judge if they were worth correcting for the sake of time. I got to see producers in their element, taking note of the ones who really got things accomplished. That job made me better as a director, becoming more hands-on instead of simply barking orders or throwing an adult-sized tantrum to get an assignment done. Thus Spark-Flow Studios is almost in full-swing.
With a music video, an iPhone game, as well as the continuation of the "Pumpk & Cham and Pai" series, I believe ascending to the next level of accomplishment is within the studios' grasp. I am very proud of my talented staff! They know that we're all up-and-comers who wish to create great things on this side of the East Coast. People are starting to take better notice and I cannot wait to show them what we really have in store! I've even been invited by the DC Animation Meetup group to speak at the next gathering in December 2010...and to quote the narrator from the prologue of "PC & P": "For this is but the beginning..."