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February 1, 2011. Vancouver, BC.  Sean O'ReillyFounder/C.E.O., Arcana Studio, has an animation/comic/graphic novel business. Here he is in his Burnaby Studio. Portrait for top 40 under 40. Photo: Laura Leyshon for the Globe and Mail

The 2013 10 To Watch: Sean Patrick O’Reilly

The "media-agnostic" founder and CEO of Vancouver-based Arcana Comics says the company's business strategy is to develop and produce content from the Arcana library while holding on to the rights.

With roots in the comic book industry, Arcana Comics CEO and founder Sean Patrick O’Reilly is building a multimedia empire (no, it’s not an evil empire) with Arcana’s colourful slate of original IPs.

The 38-year-old Vancouver native began his career – and by association, Arcana – by self-publishing his first graphic novel, Kade and shopping it at San Diego Comic Con. Since that fateful trip, our hero has built Arcana’s portfolio to include more than 250 titles. He’s now got his eye on both the big and small screen.

“We’re looking to continue to develop and produce selected content from our library and ultimately own all the rights,” he says of Arcana’s business strategy. “As long as we can keep telling the stories we want to tell, I’m somewhat media-agnostic.”

O’Reilly got his first taste of the big screen in 2007 while working on Red Lotus: Mark of the Warrior, an original animated short series for SpikeTV. Around the same time, L.A.-based Platinum Studios hired him to consult on its comic book arm; there he published Scott Mitchell Rosenberg’s Cowboys & Aliens, which was later turned into a blockbuster feature.

In 2009, he executive produced A Dangerous Man and in 2010, Paradox, a Kevin Sorbo-starrer based on an Arcana property. He also picked up producing and writing credits on 2010′s Circle of Pain and the recently completed Arcana original, The Clockwork Girl.

O’Reilly describes his film career to date as a mix of both hands-on and hands-in roles.

“For hands-on productions, I’m primarily given a producer fee and credit, and my work will be optioned, acquired and someone else will actually make the movie,” he says. “I became a hands-in producer for The Clockwork Girl, and at that point I was hiring people and seeking financing, tax credits and equity investment.”

Currently on tap for O’Reilly are the animated series Kagagi and the feature film Pixies. O’Reilly will direct and produce Kagagi, which is in development with APTN and slated for early 2014 release.

Pixies, meanwhile, is in pre-production and will be written, directed and produced by O’Reilly. The film already has legendary actor Christopher Plummer on board and has attracted private equity investment, a valued “first” for the producer.

“The biggest challenge has been getting people to believe in us because we don’t have a long track record [in film or TV],” he says. “It feels good to have other people believe in us and start to invest towards Pixies.”

Check back here as we continue to unveil this year’s 10 to Watch over the next several days.

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