Lucasfilm exec moves to animation studio

Former Lucasfilm Animation exec Catherine Winder has joined Rainmaker Entertainment as prexy of the Vancouver-based animation studio. Winder’s hire is part of a revamp of Rainmaker’s management team as the company looks to raise its profile and expand the scope of its operations.

Warren Franklin, who has held the titles of president and CEO, is giving up the prexy role.

Winder, who helped build up Lucasfilm Animation and produced the hit “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” skein for Cartoon Network, will report to Franklin.

Franklin said the hiring of Winder “changes our ability to do world-class animation, which is our goal.”

Rainmaker, which is publicly traded in Canada, is in production on its first animated feature, “Escape From Planet Earth,” for the Weinstein Co., and will begin production this summer on “Luna,” an original short to be directed by Pixar alum Jon Mead.

Company also makes the animated pics for Mattel’s Barbie and Max Steel franchises.

Winder said her intent is to shift the company’s focus to “being storytellers on everything we do.”

With Pixar planning to open an animation facility in Vancouver, Franklin said there will be no shortage of toon talent attracted to the region.

Franklin added that he expects intense competition for animation talent in the short term but also expects many Canadian animators around the world will be attracted to the area with both Pixar and Rainmaker hiring.

Franklin and Winder have a 15-year history together going back to when they both worked at San Francisco-based Colossal Pictures.

Also joining Rainmaker are Kim Dent Wilder, who returns to Rainmaker as senior VP of production and operations, and Tara Kemes, who becomes manager of talent development. They will report to Winder.

Both were most recently at Nexon Publishing North America, an online entertainment company.

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