ARC update: Jam Filled To The Rescue?

By Mike Valiquette

jf-animation-no-borderBoth Kidscreen and Playback are reporting on some very interesting news that is developing following two of last week’s big animation stories. After the shocking story of Toronto CG studio, Arc Productions’ sudden collapse into bankruptcy, it was announced that Jam Filled Entertainment, a thriving mid-size 2D shop from Ottawa, known for being a very creator-friendly and well run studio, was being purchased by Boatrocker Media. Boatrocker had recently acquired Radical Sheep Entertainment, who works with Jam Filled on the Bagel and Becky Show. Boatrocker has been looking at options for months in terms of opening up a CG studio here in Toronto, separate from Industrial Brothers, an animation studio it also owns a minority share in. So when the Arc news hit, it unleashed a torrent of talent into the Toronto market, along with a number of high-value projects that would need completing.

I’m aware of a few different factions that would have been making some kind of play for those contracts, but it would be  a very tricky proposition for any company making the attempt.

You’d need to be able to get up and running fast. Those shows are already on deadlines, and each week that goes by makes a huge dent in those schedules.

You’d have to be a very credible organization, with a solid track record and some backing. These clients aren’t looking to get screwed again.

You’d also want to try to get your hands on all the production assets for those various projects, all sitting on Arc servers, too vast to transfer anywhere with any real ease.

And with each week that goes by, more crew get snapped up by other companies into new jobs. So it’s a bit of a puzzle, with a lot of moving parts.

From what I can see in the articles, Jam Filled, backed by Boatrocker, is trying to grab back the key staff and ramp back up on an undisclosed group or Arc projects.

There isn’t much else in terms of official details, but if this is essentially an acquisition, then perhaps the easiest answer is really just getting these people back to their studio and back to their desks, with some solid management to support them. And by that, I’m going to say it very clearly: management who care about the work, who care about the client, and who care about the artists in the chairs. Jam Filled is this kind of company, Radical Sheep is this kind of company, and among the various layers of management at Arc were a number of these kind of people.

I’m going to close this post out with optimism. Last week sucked. The Arc news, whether you were directly affected by it or not, was a kick in the metaphorical nuts. We’re seeing some shit that just doesn’t add up, and we could see some real ugliness in that studio’s downfall before the dust fully settles. But here we are, a week later, good people are working very hard to set that situation right.

Yes, they’ll profit from it. It’s business, and that’s fucking great. Maybe now it can be good business. Good people, doing good work, that’s all we ever want.

Prove me right guys, give us a win.

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9 Responses to “ARC update: Jam Filled To The Rescue?”

  1. Very well written and thoughtful. Hope that things move in a positive direction. It’s always difficult and heartbreaking when studios collapse. All digits crossed for a good outcome!!

    #80254
  2. Excited to see this going down so quickly. JF is a great place to work, hopefully everything will work out for the best.

    #80263
  3. Gene P

    Hey Mike,

    This appeared on the Facebook page for the former Arc-ers. It appears like there is some very good news here. It won’t be everyone but it looks to be a significant amount of former Arc employees:

    Dear Friends,
    My name is Kyle Mac Dougall and I am the President of Jam Filled. If our studio is new to you, it is important for me to tell you all that, on behalf of my partners and our amazing team, we are sympathetic to the position in which many of you find yourselves.
    I am writing you today to let you know that we hope we can provide you with an opportunity to get back to work on great creative projects in a new company with a positive culture and stable work environment run by artists.
    As you may have heard, along with our partners at Boat Rocker, we have entered into an agreement to acquire a significant portion of Arc’s assets. Since this agreement, we have had very positive conversations with a selection of Arc’s former clients and believe that we can bring several shows back online in very short order.
    In order to do so we will begin the process of reaching out and reengaging team members with formal offers to start work again as early as next week. In addition, we are planning a series of team-specific town halls on Thursday afternoon and all-day Friday of this week at the Peter & Richmond St. offices.
    We will begin the process of calling many of you first thing tomorrow morning.
    Please do not hesitate to reach out to us directly at info@jamfilled.com (we will respond as expeditiously as possible).
    Sincerely,
    Kyle and the Jam Filled team

    #80264
    • JS

      Woah. With Kyle’s track record of lying to artists about start dates and stringing them along for months without pay, it’s crazy that he’s potentially doing it again with 5 times more staff than he’s ever handled before…

      #80274
      • DC

        Never had any issues getting payed, ever at jamfilled. Always got payed. And Kyle’s always been pretty open about future plans. Not sure what “track record” you’re referring too.

        #80282
        • JS

          I’m talking about the 6 or so months I was told repeatedly that the Kratt Brothers show would be starting “in a couple weeks” only for the date to keep pushing. I learned my lesson after that. Unfortunately I know others who didn’t and went through the same thing when Jam Filled was starting.

          I can’t speak on the current pay situation at Jam Filled so I won’t. I’m glad you’ve never had problems. Hopefully Kyle is able to get Arc back up and running and if not at the very least I’m sure he’ll make sure everyone has a hamburger or a pancake.

          #80285
  4. Arc Ex-er

    First of all Jam Filled/Boat Rocker is contemplating hiring ex-arc staff if the on going creditors and client negotiations are successful, not actually hiring right now. Playback is incorrect in writing the deal has been done.

    Second of all if the Arc done productions were high-value it would not have gone bankrupt. At best one of the clients contacts just might be mildly profitable, the rest are small time stuff that will not pay the bills. To land these clients Arc was underbidding and sometimes drastically underbidding (by the company’s own admission to the employees) the projects.

    #80265
  5. Andre B.

    Come on people, Jam Filled is operating under a very different format than anyone else in Canada, they pay all of us artists by the frame, Ottawa is known as a market where wages are much lower than anywhere else in the country, when I left Ottawa I got an offer from Arc that was too good to be true and I passed on it, they proved me right! Arc was not sustainable because they grew so fast, they had no expertise managing big teams, they overpaid people and underbid on projects. Jam Filled growing from 80 artists to 400 in 2 weeks??? they are NOT doing this for the love of the artists, this is greed at its best, they take the projects, cash in and scale down quickly so they don’t go under like Arc. At the end it’s nave artists who will pay the price. Lots of great studios hiring, go find a new home!

    #80283
  6. james

    Is the industry really thinking this is good ?

    Or just a few hopeful souls that think this has potential ?

    Jam Filled is a very small studio in Ottawa, with around 80 artists working on small projects. They have no CG infrastructure or high level technical expertise, all their projects are 2D and their managers have no idea what it takes to lead a huge team like Arc.

    So this to me seems like history will repeat itself: small studio, minimal experience managing big projects and with 80 artist grows to 300+ very quickly (faster than Arc). to me this looks like a recipe for disaster.

    Enough pain for so many great artists, I had 6 awesome interviews this week, I encourage all of you Ex Arc artists, find a new home. every great studio is hiring right now!

    #80307

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