LEADERSHIP

Co-Founder,

Chief Creative Officer

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Co-Founder,

Chief Executive Officer

SVP, Digital Production and VFX

VP of Engineering

SVP, Production

Creative Director, India

Art Director, Conceptual

Design and Environments

Art Director, Character Design

Producer

Technical Supervisor, Characters

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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).

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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. 

 
 

DAVID ALEXANDER SMITH

SVP, Production and VFX

Before joining Spire, David Smith was a VFX Supervisor at Sony Pictures Imageworks, most recently supervising Glen Keane’s Academy Award Nominated "Over The Moon" for Netflix as well as the animated features "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.

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“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.”  

 

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).  

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“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.” 

 

RAJESH SHARMA

VP of Engineering

Rajesh is a technologist with a strong record of building high performing teams to solve tough technical challenges. His focus has been on spurring technical innovation to build processes and tools for artists.

Prior to joining Spire, Rajesh worked in various capacities at the Walt Disney Animation Studios for the last 23 years.

 

During his long tenure both as an individual contributor and a manager, Rajesh introduced Scrum and Agile methodologies at Disney Animation along with Interaction Design practices and focus on performant coding.  Rajesh led the development of Disney's Hyperion renderer from incubation to proof-of-concept and oversaw its deployment, usage and continuous development on several productions. For Disney's Frozen, Rajesh spearheaded the collaboration with researchers and engineers to come up with realistic physically-based snow simulation techniques. Rajesh built the teams to optimize fur with XGen, preview millions of hair strands in real time, and create a new vegetation toolset for Zootopia.  He also managed the SciTech award winning team of developers and scientists to build a world class hair authoring and simulation system used in several animated films at Disney Animation Studios. For Moana, Rajesh's team with his guidance, built a best in class water simulation system using original research in fluid simulation and a feather system addition to XGen.

 

Rajesh strongly believes in giving back to the community and volunteers at the SIGGRAPH conference every year.  He served as the Siggraph Dailies Chair for two years and has been on several juries for the Electronic Theater, Production Sessions & General Submissions.  He has also taught the popular online courses on Ray Tracing and Machine Learning for the past two years with over 15 hours of video instruction.

 

Rajesh was personally mentored by Ed Catmull at Disney Animation Studios after being identified as an emerging leader. He is credited on 20 animated features from Disney Animation Studios including the academy award winning films: Big Hero 6, Frozen and Zootopia!


Rajesh grew up in India and now lives in Los Angeles.
He has an MBA from UCLA Anderson School of Business and a Master of Science in Computer Graphics from Indiana University.

An avid hiker and a cook, Rajesh also practices and teaches meditation.

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PHILIPPE GLUCKMAN

Creative Director, India

Philippe Gluckman, originally from France, has been working as a Creative Director in India since 2008.  Gluckman joined Spire Animation studios as Creative Director, India in 2021, where he leads all creative aspects of the work produced in Mumbai.

 

Prior to Spire, Gluckman held the same position at the Dreamworks Unit in Bangalore after relocating to India in 2008. As such, he managed the artistic staff, and oversaw the creative and technical execution of the projects produced within the unit (most notably Dreamworks Animated Feature Films such as Puss in Boots, Madagascar 3, Trolls, Boss Baby…) During that time, he was the Visual Effects Supervisor for The Penguins of Madagascar, the first Dreamworks Feature Film that was principally produced in India, from development to final execution.  Before that, Gluckman acted as Visual Effects Supervisor for DreamWorks Animation’s 2008 animated feature Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, a role he previously also held on such animated hits as Shrek the Third and the original Madagascar.

 

Gluckman joined DreamWorks in 1994, serving as Sequence Supervisor on the Academy Award-winning hit “Shrek” and Associate Visual Effects Supervisor for DreamWorks’ first CG animated feature, “Antz.”  He began his career at the studio as a senior animator/technical director working on such projects as “Batman and Robin,” “Batman Forever,” “Marvin the Martian”, “Simpsons 3D” and numerous commercials. All in all, his career at Dreamworks spanned for more than 20 years.

 

Gluckman studied graphic arts at the École Nationale D’Arts Appliqués, Paris. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, and the Visual Effects Society.

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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.

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“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.”  

 

CHARLES ELLISON

Art Director, Character Design

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“Spire’s vision of what the next generation of animation film-making can be, by embracing technological advancements that allow creators to build worlds and stories in the most innovative of ways, truly speaks to my mission of being able to produce the most compelling characters I can. I’m inspired by the creative spirit at Spire and so thrilled to be a part of its story.”

Charles has arrived at Spire with almost 20 years of experience in the Animation industry. Most notably during that time, Charles has served as a Head of Modeling for DreamWorks Animation where he supervised both Trolls and it’s sequel, Trolls World Tour. He also brings an extensive resume as a 3D artist for such franchises as “How To Train Your Dragon”, where he helped develop characters and environments for each installment of the beloved trilogy, and other DreamWorks films such as “Kung Fu Panda 2”, “Rise of the Guardians”, and “Abominable”. In more recent years, Charles has served mostly as a Character Visual Development artist where he has helped bring to life many franchise characters for upcoming projects from both DreamWorks Animation and Netflix Animation. 


Charles has the unique combination of skill and collaborative spirit which empowers him to continue to usher into the world, vibrant animated characters that connect with audiences. His passion of the craft has also extended into the animation community where he’s dedicated many years to educate the next wave of talent as an Instructor for both the Art Center, College of Design in Pasadena, as well as AnimSchool’s highly acclaimed online program, teaching 3D character development. 


Charles was born in Venezuela, but at an early age migrated to the United States, growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he later studied Fine Arts and 3D Animation at the Academy of Arts University. A dreamer since a boy, Charles continues his pursuit of telling great stories through the characters he brings to life. 
Charles is a member of the Animation Guild and ASIFA-Hollywood, and lives in Los Angeles with his wife, two daughters and two dogs.

 
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ELLEN COSS

Producer

Ellen Coss is a 35-year veteran in computer generated imagery, starting her career at the seminal Digital Productions, when most people said, “what’s digital.”

 

In the 1980s feature films were not using computer imagery, but theme park attractions and commercials were.  Working with her mentor Sherry McKenna she became the production manager of the film for Florida’s Universal Park Attraction, “The Funtastic World of Hanna Barbera”.  The film, a motion-based race through three of Hanna Barbera’s cartoon worlds employed computer backgrounds and 2D characters, optically composited.  This was one of the first projects to combine 2D and 3D animation.

 

Ellen then joined Rhythm & Hues as a producer for theme park attraction films such as “Seafari”, which won first place at Imagina that year.  She later became the Executive Producer of the theme park division working on large format and 3D projects such as “Star Trek the Experience” and “Race to Atlantis”.

 

As many of the projects she worked on pushed the technology of the day, Disney Feature Animation hired Ellen to produce their theme park attraction films.  “Magic Lamp”, which employed exaggerated squash and stretch techniques common in 2D but not common in cg, and “Mickey’s Philharmagic”, a stereoscopic film which took nine of Disney’s beloved 2D characters and created them in 3D for the first time. 

 

Ellen then joined Dreamworks, as a Production Executive, where she helped the studio transition from 2D to 3D.  Subsequently she was the Associate Producer on the feature film “Over the Hedge” and then rejoining Dreamworks after a stint overseas to produce several Kung Fu Panda projects.

 

Ellen continued her career working as one of the first hires at Illumination Ent. and Warner Animation Group, as well as consulting on feature film projects at Sony Pictures Animation and Aardman to name a few.  Just before joining Spire Ellen completed work on films for the new “Jurassic Park Ride”, which was nominated for a VES award and “The Secret Life of Pets” Ride, including a real time section where the guests are puppies.

 

 

After work you can find Ellen in Griffith Park hiking with her dog Marlowe.

 

AARON HOLLY

Technical Supervisor, Characters

Aaron has been privileged to have worked at some of the leading studios in both Visual Effects and Feature Animation throughout his career of over two decades. While at studios such as Disney, DreamWorks, Lucasfilm and Weta Digital he has worked on visually groundbreaking projects such as “Avatar,” “Planet of the Apes” trilogy , “The Matrix” sequels, “Adventures of Tintin” and many others.

 

Aaron started his career working as a Character Technical Director at Tippett Studio and has continually pursued new experiences and challenges. He has worked as Character & Creature Lead on a number of shows as well as Character Supervisor, overseeing all aspects of character development and technology. His career has taken him across the globe to work with and lead teams in the U.S., Singapore, Nanjing and New Zealand.

 

Aaron was born and raised in San Diego, California. He’s a graduate of UCLA and the Academy of Art University.

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