Hollywood is an ever-changing landscape with a constant flow of innovative talent and stories that challenge the norm. Following suit, Andre Gaines is an LA-based writer, producer, and director whose work consistently breaks the mold as he tells stories in the most electric ways.
Born in Toledo, Ohio, Gaines has turned his imagination into a reality. While studying at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, he began to dabble into animation. He started his company, Animation Studios while in school. Years later his work could be found around the globe as he made himself a name in the industry. As a producer, he financed several feature films, some of which earning Emmy Awards and Oscar nominations.
“I knew that I always had a love for animation,” he tells. “When I started the company, it was really built around animation and visual effects. [It] started to develop a large number of international relationships as a result of that and really used that to pivot into producing live action content.”
Referring to one of her most recent productions, HBO’s The Lady and The Dale documentary series, Gaines tells that he fell in love with the story immediately. To him, the story of Elizabeth Carmichael, a transgender entrepreneur whose rise and fall during the 70s was a story of humanness and an opportunity to tell a story untold in a unique way and perfectly his.“The use of animation really kind of comes full circle in my experience, as someone who started in that part of the industry as a tool, as a really powerful and magnificent storytelling device.” He continued to share that they lacked archival footage, however, his expertise in animation came into play, bridging the gaps in between with movement and colors that further brought the story to life. “For me that’s exciting, because if the opportunity comes about, I’d go and do a whole show that way because it’s such an innovative new style.”
“With animation, it’s designed to heighten your sense of reality. In some cases, by heightening your sense of reality, it can either take you out of reality from something very grounded into something just very artistic and illustrative. But there’s other ways that you know, the way that we did it here is a way of actually keeping you grounded and keeping you engaged in the story and keeping you engaged in the lives of the characters and the cast in which we’re trying to portray. So it really was a triumph. It was something we were very excited about.”
Having done such innovative crafting with The Lady and The Dale, Gaines’ work is far from over. “I’m doing exactly what I want to do until the day I die. I have no intention of ever retiring at some point. I’ll be making movies and TV shows forever,” he expressed with a laugh. “It’s a real blessing to wake up every day knowing that I have the privilege to do that and to wake up and know that those stories inspire people.”
He details that he’s in the final stages of a documentary on the life of the legendary comedian and activist Dick Gregory, a project he financed, wrote, and directed. “Those are the types of stories that I’ve always gravitated towards. I always like seeing stories of people’s lives, their experiences, what they went through and how they got there. their triumphs, trials, successes and failures.” Along with biographic projects, Gaines enjoys true crime and science fiction, which he recently wrapped production on a reboot of Stephen King’s Children of the Corn film.
As he continues to maximize his potential, he explained that his main hope is that his work creates change in the world. “It’s one of the most powerful tools that we have as people to really share incredible stories all over the world. From any pocket of the world that you may not have ever heard of, with [The] Lady and the Dale, just as an example. This is a major moment in our history and in the US history that nobody’s ever heard of,” he said.
“These stories change people’s lives. It’s something that I’d never really take for granted. The people, places, and things that the stories you tell can actually reach and change hearts and minds.”