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Titmouse originally started out as a T‐shirt company in 2000. Founders Chris and Shannon Prynoski named it Titmouse after Chris’ favorite Northeastern‐American bird species. Unfortunately, shirts were not selling as well as they had hoped. The Prynoskis restructured the business to focus more on film and television animation production. They decided to take their business into this direction for no reason other than the fact that they could do it.

Now in 2018, Titmouse has evolved to become a full‐service animation production company. They accommodate projects of any scale in Los Angeles, New York City, and Vancouver. Titmouse employs over 400 of the most talented people in the industry. Writers, producers, directors, storyboard artists, animators, compositors, and editors.

Most recently Titmouse held their 10th 5-Second Animation Night. An annual tradition that gives Titmouse animators the chance to bring to life whatever strange/beautiful/disturbing/funny ideas they’ve had all year as a short-format cartoon. Recently we got to sit down with Founder Chris Prynoski & Antonio Canobbio, VP/Creative Director at Titmouse inc. To talk about this annual event and their other projects and tips on how to improve your own work.

ComicsVerse: Can you tell me about the Titmouse 5 Second Animation night, like how it’s developed from where you started to now?

Chris: Yeah, I mean, it was just a way to give our animators something cool to do. When we started, Shannon, my wife, who co-founded the studio, she was like, “What if we just shut down the studio and let people make a five-second long cartoon and then we’ll that night or the next night, we’ll just get drunk, and watch them.”

And we would just do it in the lobby of the studio, and then as it grew it became this thing where now we have the three studios working on it, we screen them at movie theaters, and it sells out most of the time. And it’s like, what’s happened? The biggest difference is, well one is, nobody makes a cartoon that’s like five seconds long anymore, some of them are like a minute long, and now there is less, but people team up. One of the cartoons, 20 people worked on it together and they’re these epic cartoons, and they do pre-production for a month ahead of time, so they can all go bonkers on that day.

We give people a week after to put finishing touches because everyone wants to tweak it and stuff. It’s not really a day anymore. One of the five second day shorts, we had a short optioned for a show. We did the pilot and now the series got green-lighted, and it’s a Cartoon Network Show, and there’s going to be an announcement any day, I wish I could tell you what it was, but it’s cool, we’re making a whole series out of a thing that was a five-second day short.

CV: Was that your goal?

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Chris: If we made the intent like, make stuff so it’ll become pitches for shows, it would’ve totally failed. But because it was just somebody’s cool cartoon idea, that’s why it became a show. It’s fun too. There is always that thing where, there’s always this hype of like, “Have you seen so and so’s yet? Crazy.” And I remember that year and everyone’s like, “This one is so awesome.” So, it’s pretty cool. It’s fun.

CV: I heard you are working on something for Marvel?

Chris: Yeah what I’ll say about the Marvel thing, I’m sure you’re talking about MOON GIRL & DEVIL DINOSAUR?

CV: Yeah, absolutely.

Chris: Because all of that PR is controlled by Disney and Marvel, I am not going to say anything about that, because I do not want to get in trouble. They have to approve any word that’s said about anything that we do for that so ask me another time.

CV: No, no, I understand. Okay, so NIKO’S doing well with having been greenlit for season 2. Are you doing anything else children related to Amazon?

Chris: Yeah, yeah, we’re doing this show called LITTLE BIG AWESOME and we couldn’t show anything on the panel but it’s going to come out in April. The pilot is online, it’s really cool. It’s a kid’s show, and it’s really weird, and the guy who is the head writer, show-runner on that, was the guy who originally worked on the original SUPERJAIL. Mostly on the pitch, the concept of it, so it all comes around.

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CV: Antonio, from an artist’s standpoint, what do you not want to see in an applicant’s portfolio?

Antonio: Well, the first thing is … okay, bad ellipses. No, no, okay, something-

Chris: It’s true though.

Antonio: Yeah. No, it is true. What I don’t like to see people that haven’t conquered the basic stuff, that are trying to fake it. I always say in order to break the rules, you’ve got to know them, and if you haven’t done all the academic skills you need to learn in school if you try to bypass them, it is going to be very, very visible in your portfolio. And unless you have a great style that can support that, and you developed that very strongly, it’s going to be really hard to make it in animation, in general. You’re going to struggle with that-

Chris: The lipstick on the pig.

CV: Lipstick on the pig?

Chris: It’s when you try to dress up a bad drawing with a lot of shading and like stuff like tricks, you know?

Antonio: Draw a good foundation, everything, and you will get a job anywhere, not just with Titmouse, but with everyone.

Chris: Actually, the best portfolios are kind of the most boring ones, it’s like some really solid life drawings, a drawing of a chair or a car, that looks really good  A car is really hard to draw.

Antonio: And you can understand that on the TV series, there’s going to be maybe two, three people that are going to have a voice. Everybody else is going to have to follow. So you need like maybe 50 or 60 jobs to fill. People that won’t necessarily have a voice, but know how to draw like motherfuckers. That’s the most important thing ever. Always the best animators, they really have draftsmanship skills, because they got to envision this stuff, they got to articulate things and so many-

Chris: And there’s no time. It’s like your first drawing’s got to be good. You don’t have a lot of time to draw it over and over.

CV: Awesome, well thank you for your time guys.

You can find out more about Titmouse and any career opportunities they may offer on their site; also, check out ComicsVerse for more interviews!

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