May 3, 2018

Simon Oré uses Control4 to inspire his animation work—and avoid the Hollywood runaround.

LOCATION: Hollywood, California // DEALER: Semaphoric Smart Homes // PHOTOGRAPHY: Rebecca Henry Photography
If you’ve seen The Beckhams Come to LA, you’ve seen Simon Oré’s family home. You also could have chanced upon it in GQ Magazine or recognized the pool from a Ford Modeling Agency swimsuit shot. Perched on a cliff overlooking San Fernando Valley, the 7,000-square-foot modern industrial home can, as Simon puts it, “swing with the best of them.”

Along with hosting the professionally-beautiful, the Beverly Hills home is Simon’s preferred place to “get as much inspiration flowing as possible”—which he attributes largely to its Control4 features. The system offers house-wide AV automation and a customized theater with a drop-down screen measuring 120 inches. We recently caught up with Simon—owner of Flamingoshoe, a company that produces content for networks like Comedy Central or Nickelodeon—to learn how Control4 frees him to follow his creativity down any rabbit hole that calls.
Q.  Tell us about your work.
A.  I work in animation. I’m a producer and a writer. I work with original content; I do different shorts and commercial work. I have a regular office and one that I work at from home—which I do whenever possible.
Q.  What are some of the animation projects you’ve worked on?
A.  Most of them are in the process of being made. Animation takes a long time. Toy Story took 12 years. We aren’t Disney, so we don’t have a hundred animators. But we do work with Comedy Central and Nickelodeon.
Q.  Can you take us through a typical day?
A.  It’s a lot of emails, a lot of phone conversations, and a lot of reading manuscripts and books. Lots of lunch meetings at the house. I have tele-animators in Reno and Portland, so I spend a good amount of time communicating with them too.
Ultimately, it’s different every day. Though, really, it’s a lot of watching things and reading things. Other than that, it’s driving from point A to point B. It’s very boring, but you deal with interesting people and interesting things.
Q.  What is it like working from home?
A.  My home office is very Control4-centric. The whole house is wired. Everything from heating to lights can be remotely accessed and used.
We’ve got the system to handle five different people watching five different media on five different systems. My mom can be watching something in her bedroom and something completely different in her bathroom. We don’t have to have twenty boxes and twenty DVD players.
Also, I have the TV hooked up to the Internet. Without leaving the room, I can pull up a movie anywhere or showcase a scene that I’m working on. We have over a hundred DVDs in the system, including ones that I’ve made. It makes things so much easier.
Q.  How else does Control4 technology help you do your work?
A.  I have everything that fuels my creativity—everything that I love—at my fingertips. I feel lucky that I work in an awesome smart house where I can pull up a spoken-word album that inspires me or a DVD with a great scene— just like that. If I had to do it the normal way, I might lose the thread that I was so excited to follow
Q.  Can you give us an example?
A.  Say I’m in a meeting and someone says, “Have you seen the movie Putney Swope? It’s with Robert Downy Senior—Robert Junior’s dad. Well, when you see it, you realize that when Robert Downy Jr.’s doing the whole blackface bit in Tropic Thunder, it’s basically a recreation of what his Dad did in Putney Swope.”
Now, normally, I’d lose 25 minutes just finding this. But instead, I can pull it up within minutes and not derail the creative direction of the conversation. In the middle of a business meeting, I can pull it up. That is awesome.
Look, I try to get as much inspiration flowing for me and my writers from as many sources as possible. The fact that Control4 helps me do that is awesome. It’s a total boon and a total asset.
Q.  Are there other benefits to being able to work from home?
A.  At this point, most of my meetings are at home. It’s cheaper and you get more stuff done. In LA, you have to have four lunches before contracts are signed. I don’t like that. It pisses me off. I don’t like wasting time.
We do have an office in Beverly Hills South, in Wilshire. We do a lot of production stuff there and sometimes I take meetings there. But I have to tell you, when you are used to living and working in the Control4 environment, you feel it when you don’t have it.
Q.  What do you miss the most when you don’t have it?
A.  When I have to go looking for a DVD, and then physically hand it to someone and say watch this when you get home, it just doesn’t help my case enough. It’s nowhere near as powerful as pulling up the scene or the character on the spot to illustrate my point.
Q.  Do you use it exclusively for your work?
A.  I use the hell out of the Control4 system during the busy hours of the day, which are from lunch till about four or five. I’m in meetings, jumping from one movie to the other, referencing things. Although I have to say, I use it a lot when I come back in the evening, too.
Q.  For leisure?
A.  I will listen to music by the pool. We have lights there that make the pool look different colors—red, green, blue—whatever suits my mood. I’ll turn that on and blast They Might Be Giants. Often, my sister will be watching her shows upstairs around this time. But if she’s out of the house when I come home, I’ll think to myself, hmm, I’m by myself... and I’ll blast my music through every room in the house. Basically, Control4 plays a big part in how I work and how I unwind.


Q.  Do you host a lot of parties?
A.  I, myself, try not to have parties. But I’ll tell you, the house gets used a lot for stuff like that. Big parties and dinners. Sometimes for photo shoots. GQ did one not that long ago. The Ford Modeling Agency did one for a bathing suit shoot. When Victoria and David Beckham first moved here, they used the house too. They filmed The Beckhams Come to LA here.
The house is built for big events. My mom’s birthday party had a hundred-something people here. I personally prefer when it’s calmer, but this place can swing with the best of them.
Q.  Does Control4 technology help with big events?
A.  Control4 makes it easy because you can preset music mixes and set the volume just right and have the lighting that you really like. Like, I know that I like the dining room lights at 75%. Well, you can preserve that perfect formula. And with a push of a button, I have a dinner party! Or a pool party with the perfect lights, music and everything—it remembers everything.
We have lots of guests stay with us, too. It’s really helpful for that. My mom and sister joke that it’s a hotel. They’re always saying we should have monogrammed bathrobes.
Q.  Out-of-town friends?
A.  My mom is from Mexico and me and my sister grew up in Canada, so we have a lot of friends and family who come and visit us from out of town. There are two rooms that people are always staying in. Mostly family members, friends, people driving all the way from Orange County and needing to stay the night. Sometimes people in LA have an irrational fear of driving. It’s windy; there are hills; they’ve been drinking.
Q.  How does Control4 help with guests?
A.  If guests want music or they don’t want music, if the lights are too much or not enough— whatever it is, I can do it from the remote control. If a guest is in the kitchen and can’t find the lights, I can just turn them on for them with the remote. I love that ability—to be able to control my whole house from a remote control.
What I love about the Control4 system is that it’s very self-explanatory. Whatever they want— comfort, music, TV—they can pretty much figure it out on their own. And clearly, that’s nice for me. Instead of constantly answering questions—and the same ones especially—it’s so easy, they can figure it out on their own.
I mean, when I stay at friends’ places, sometimes there are just so many remote controls—and half of them don’t even work. But here, it’s really like staying in a hotel. Some of our guests only speak French. Well, there’s a touch screen for people who don’t speak English It’s completely self-explanatory because it’s in images.
It’s so easy.