In 2014, Crafty Apes opened its Atlanta location with a staff of two: Chris LeDoux and Joshua Stevens. It didn’t take long to expand to employ dozens, move most of the rest of the family to Georgia, and emerge as one of the top visual effects companies in the industry.
Founded in 2011 in Los Angeles, Crafty Apes had worked on a number of Georgia-based film and television productions, parachuting in for the duration while keeping the company’s base on the West Coast. But even then the potential in Georgia was clear.
“We decided we wanted to be the boots on the ground here,” says Chris, cofounder of Crafty Apes. “We didn’t want to just send random people out here to work, but get here ourselves. We saw the opportunity in Georgia and were eager to get a foot in the door.”
Fast-forward to today. Crafty Apes is one of the industry’s premier visual effects companies, with a production resume that includes Oscar-nominated films “A Star Is Born,” “Hidden Figures” and “If Beale Street Could Talk.” Georgia-based productions include “Stranger Things,” “The Front Runner,” “The Hate U Give,” and “Hidden Figures.”
While the company maintains offices in LA and New York, the Atlanta location has emerged as Craft Apes’ largest office — and Atlanta has become the family’s home.
Chris and his wife Genevieve DeMars, an Emmy-winning producer, just bought a home in Atlanta. Also based in Atlanta are brothers Mark LeDoux, senior VFX supervisor, and David LeDoux, director of IT. Tim runs the operation in LA along with co-founder Jason Sanford.
“I wasn’t completely sold when Chris wanted to make the move to Atlanta,” says Genevieve, whose work includes projects with Disney, Warner Brothers and Amazon. “But I’ve made great connections in the business right here in Georgia. This is now my hub.”
Invested in Atlanta
Since making the move to the South, Chris and his team have spent much of their time training local talent to help develop what are becoming some of the top crew around. Through workshops and on-the-job training, Crafty Apes has trained about 30 people in special visual effects over the last five years.
Now with about 65 full-time employees in Georgia, the company quickly outgrew its original location and relocated to a 6,500-square-foot facility in west Atlanta complete with a ping-pong table and vintage pinball machine.
“Among the tables full of little gadgets and games, you see some great creative work getting done,” says Mark. “At any given time there are 40-50 people sitting at their desk working extremely hard.”
As the company has grown significantly, so has its ability to do more. From rotoscoping to creating full-on creatures for films, the team does it all.
“To do all levels of sophisticated work, we had to outsource in the beginning, but now we are at the point where we can do everything in-house,” says Chris, adding that the Atlanta office even pulls in work from other states where the Georgia tax credit doesn’t apply. “That’s a good sign for post-production as a whole, that the quality of the work has crossed that threshold.”
While it’s hard to pick a favorite project, Chris counts “Hidden Figures,” “La La Land,” and “12 Years a Slave” among the most meaningful projects the team has worked with.
“I’m a sucker for a good story,” Chris says. “Ultimately at the end of the day, we love being part of a great story that will last for generations. That’s what we do best.”