LEADERSHIP

Co-Founder,

Chief Creative Officer

Co-Founder,

Chief Executive Officer

Creative Director,

Animation and Story

Creative Director,

Story and Animation

SVP, Production

and VFX

Art Director, Conceptual

Design and Environments

SVP, Production

Director, Creative and

Pipeline Technologies

BRAD LEWIS

Co-Founder, Chief Creative Officer

Brad recently produced the Oscar nominated “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” the critically acclaimed conclusion of the trilogy. Lewis also produced the animated film “Storks” and served as executive producer of “The Lego Batman Movie,” both from Warner Bros. Previously Lewis spent 10 years at Pixar, where he worked on a number of the studio’s film including “Ratatouille” (producer) and “Cars 2” (co-director, writer). He worked with Studio Ghibli on the acclaimed animated film “Ponyo,” as vocal director of the English cast. With the formation of DreamWorks SKG in 1994, Lewis was among the company’s first employees as a key executive at PDI/DreamWorks, and produced the studio’s inaugural animated feature, “ANTZ.” 

In 2008, he was awarded by Producers Guild America with its PGA Award for Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures for “Ratatouille,” which ultimately won the Academy Award® for Best Animated Feature and a Golden Globe that same year. In addition, he received a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Visual Effects for The Simpsons 3d Halloween episode in 1992, a Sports Emmy Award for design for ABC Monday Night Football, and is the recipient of two Clio Awards. 

A native of San Mateo, CA, Lewis graduated from Fresno State University, where he studied Theatre Arts/Dance.   He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) and the Producers Guild of America (PGA).

P.J. GUNSAGAR

Co-Founder, Chief Executive Officer

P.J. is an entrepreneur at heart. After starting his career in finance, working as an investment banker at UBS Warburg and early-stage investor at Intel Capital, he focused his career on building companies at the intersection of technology and media from the ground up.  Spire Animation Studios is the fourth company co-founded by P.J.

 

Prior to Spire, P.J. was Co-Founder and CEO at Kidaptive, an adaptive learning and educational content company focused on personalized learning.  Kidaptive is best known for its award-winning animated iPad app, Leo’s Pad, which entertained and educated millions of preschoolers around the world. Kidaptive also developed ALP, a platform for improving learning outcomes by providing highly scalable processing of complex data streams using proprietary machine-learning algorithms. Before Kidaptive, P.J. was Co-Founder & President of Prana Studios, a leading global 3D animation and visual effects studio. Prana's filmography includes "Transformers," "TRON Legacy," "TinkerBell," and Disney's "Planes." P.J. also cofounded Ettache, an online account aggregation company, which was acquired in 2001 by Adhesion Technologies.

 

P.J. grew up in Saratoga, California and today lives in Los Altos, California with his wife and two daughters.  He's a graduate of UCLA and Stanford Law School. 

 
 

SHAWN KRAUSE

Creative Director, Animation and Story

Shawn joined Spire Studios as Creative Director in 2020. He began his career as an animator and leader at Pixar Animation Studios. His 26-year run there started after his freshman year film was noticed at the California Institute of the Arts' (CalArts) annual Producers Show. Shawn animated and directed commercials before rolling on to Pixar's first feature film: "Toy Story."  Working at the forefront of the computer animation industry, he has always enjoyed the collaborative process required with evolving, cutting edge technologies and the creation of feature films.

 

Shawn led the animation teams for three Pixar features: “UP," "Cars 2," and "Inside Out.”  "UP" was the first animated 3D film to open the Cannes Film Festival. It won the Academy Award® for Best Animated Feature and was also nominated for Best Picture. He then went on to become a Supervising Animator on "Cars 2" and "Inside Out." The latter won the Academy Award® for Best Animated Feature as well.  Simultaneously, Shawn helped guide Pixar’s animation department as it grew from sixty-plus artists to well over a hundred. During his tenure, Shawn also directed promotional work, supervised on short films, oversaw the animation production on several Pixar attractions at the Disney theme parks and animated on 12 other feature films.

 

Along the way, he picked up a Visual Effects Society (VES) Award as the lead on Joy from ‘Inside Out’. He is also a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). Shawn lives in Northern California with his wife, two kids and an ever revolving roster of pets.

“It’s exciting to work with P.J. and Brad on their new venture during such a pivotal time in the film industry!  Spire is assembling an immensely talented team. Combined with powerful tools and a modern pipeline, we’re collaborating to create a fresh, flexible approach to storytelling. I look forward to helping create a new, innovative home for the next-generation of filmmakers.”

 

MICHAEL SURREY

Creative Director, Story and Animation

Michael recently was a Story artist on the Oscar nominated “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” the critically acclaimed conclusion of the trilogy.  Surrey, in his 10 years at DreamWorks, has also storyboarded on the studio's film "Boss Baby" and multiple films in development, along with animating on the film "The Croods.” Previously, Surrey spent 18 years at Walt Disney Animation where he worked on a number of the studio's films as a Supervising Animator including "Princess and the Frog," "Home on the Range," “Atlantis," “Tarzan," "Hunchback of Notre Dame,” and "The Lion King." He also contributed to other films as an animator and story artist including  “Tangled" (animation/ story), “Aladdin," and "Beauty and the Beast" (animation).

In 1995, he was nominated for an Annie Award for his work in animation on "The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”

A native of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Surrey, before beginning his  animation career, was pursuing his BFA at New York Institute of Technology and is also a graduate from Sheridan College where he studied animation. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).

“Spire Animation, at its heart, is filled with passionate filmmakers who want to push the creative process in new and exciting directions. After spending 30 years in this business, getting an opportunity to have a new creative sandbox to play in at Spire Animation Studios, with some of the best talents in animation, is a dream come true.”  

 

DAVID SMITH

SVP, Production and VFX

Before joining Spire, David Smith was a VFX Supervisor at Sony Pictures Imageworks, most recently supervising "The Emoji Movie" for Sony Pictures Animation and "Storks" for Warner Animation Group. 

 

Smith also served as digital effects supervisor on "The Amazing Spider-man" and "The Amazing Spider-man 2," directed by Marc Webb.

 

Smith has worked on multiple Academy Award®-nominated features including: "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe" (2006 Academy Award® nominee, Achievement in Visual Effects), "Hollow Man" (2000 Academy Award® nominee, Achievement in Visual Effects), "Stuart Little" (1999 Academy Award® nominee, Achievement in Visual Effects), "Starship Troopers" (1998 Academy Award® nominee, Achievement in Visual Effects).

During his time at Imageworks, Smith worked on many other films including: "Eagle Eye," "I Am Legend," "Green Lantern," "Cats and Dogs 2," "Beowulf," "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," and "Godzilla." 

 

Smith earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Television and Film from San Diego State University. He began his entertainment career as a runner at Boss Film Studios in 1991. While working in the Boss purchasing department, Smith offered to also work nights and mornings in the rapidly expanding CGI department. Smith quickly moved up to senior technical director working on such features as "Species" and "Outbreak" and animating on the theme park ride "Scuba Dog." He was promoted to scene supervisor for "Multiplicity," creating on-set pre-visualization and leading a team of compositors to complete the effects work.

 

David has been a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Art and Sciences since 2013.

“I came to Spire Animation Studios to fuse my ideas in groundbreaking VFX and animation with Spire's mission of building a next-generation studio accessible to new voices and ideas. I’m excited about pushing the latest technological advancements to create a more intimate and flexible animation filmmaking process.”  

 

PHILIPPE BROCHU

Art Director,

Conceptual Design and Environments

Philippe has led an impressive career as a 3D Artist and Concept Designer in his 20+ years working in the VFX and Animation industry. In both 2014 and 2019, he received The Visual Effect Society (VES) Award nominations for Outstanding Created Environment in an Animated Feature Motion Picture and also took part at the 47th Annie Awards in 2019, sharing nomination for the Production Design In An Animated Feature Production; "How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World."

Prior to his current role at Spire Studios, Philippe first worked on an extensive list of Visual Effects films and TV series. Joining Disney Animation Studios in 2005, he worked on a number of movies including “Meet The Robinsons,” “Bolt,” and “Prep and Landing.” For more than a decade at DreamWorks Animation he received recognitions for “The Croods,” “The Croods 2: A New Age,” “Puss And Boots,” “Trolls,” and “How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.” Most recently, he worked at Netflix Animation, where he designed concepts for 3 non-announced movies. 

Philippe was born and grew up in Montreal, Canada where he studied Fine Arts, worked from cameraman, editor to Director of live broadcasts and developed his 3D Design skills as a graphic designer. Philippe is a member of the Animation Guild and ASIFA-Hollywood, and lives in Burbank California with his wife and daughter.

“I’ve dreamed for many years of joining a studio that would reinvent how we create animated movies. My dreams have come true in Spire Animation Studios, where we have built a team dedicated to creating the highest quality animation by advancing new creative processes and technologies.”  

 

ANDREA PAUL

SVP, Production

With over 30 years of experience in Feature Animation, Andrea has built a career with credits spanning such classics as “Aladdin” and “Hercules” to the award-winning “How To Train Your Dragon” series. Andrea started her career at Walt Disney Feature animation as a production accountant, also working on films including “Pocahontas” and “Atlantis.”  After 10 years with Disney, Andrea was asked to join the team at DreamWorks SKG, during the company’s early years. There she acted as finance lead for projects such as “Shark Tale,” “Over the Hedge,” and “Kung Fu Panda (Secrets of the Furious Five).”

 

Andrea’s career entered an exciting next phase when she made the move to Warner Bros. in 2013. Brought in to help build the newly formed Warner Animation Group (WAG) division, Andrea worked on films “Storks” and “Smallfoot.” It was at Warner Bros. where Andrea transitioned into producing, working as associate producer on “Lego Batman” and “Pigeon Toady’s Short” as well as the development slate. Following her work at Warner Brothers and continuing in the role of associate producer, Andrea joined STX Entertainment in 2017, overseeing the movie “Ugly Dolls,” where she coordinated teams in Montreal, Dallas and Nanjing.  

In what may be her most exciting and ambitious venture yet, Andrea serves as Senior VP of Production at Spire Studios. 

A Michigan native, Andrea has a bachelor's degree in Math and Finance, with a minor in Art History from the University of Southern California.

Above all else.…. Andrea is an avid Duke basketball fan(atic).  

“I'm thrilled to be joining the amazing team at Spire.  It's very exciting and inspiring to be among such a talented crew with incredible projects on the horizon.” 

 

J.J. BLUMENKRANZ

Director,

Creative and Pipeline Technologies

J.J. Blumenkranz has over 2 decades of experience in the visual effects and animation industries for film, television, video games, and VR/AR. Before joining Spire Studios, J.J. was Executive Vice President of PiSquare, where he used his expertise to help design and develop real-time animation tools and processes for film and television production.

 

Prior to PiSquare, J.J. worked at Google Daydream where he built an in-house production team of Digital Artists and Animators to create AR/VR content. J.J. is a veteran of the industry, having also worked for Sony Pictures Imageworks, PDI/Dreamworks, Rhythm & Hues, and Digital Domain.

 

J.J. is an active member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and serves on the Executive Committee for both the Short Film and Feature Animation Branch and the Student Academy Awards there. He also serves on the Board of Directors of ASIFA-Hollywood. His credits include "Monster House," "The Polar Express," "Stuart Little 2," "Spider-man," "The ChubbChubbs!," "Shrek," "Babe, Pig in the City," and "Titanic." 

 

Before starting his career in animation, J.J. grew up in Palo Alto, California and graduated from UCLA with a Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering. He continued graduate work there bridging study between the School of Engineering and School of Medicine.

“Spire has the opportunity to redefine feature animation production. With our amazing talent, we can leverage the latest tools, cloud and remote-based workflows, along with real-time rendering to create beautiful and compelling animated stories.”