What is your name and your current occupation?
My name is Chris P. No one knows how to pronounce Prynoski. And it sounds like Chris Pee, which is something I do every day. And when I urinate I say, “Chris Pee…” like I’m the Hulk or Frankenstein. It’s fun. Don’t call me Chris Piss, though. That sounds stupid.
My current occupation is owner/president of Titmouse. It’s an animation studio in Hollywood. I usually direct a project or two at any given time. I just finished directing a pilot called Major Lazer for Adult Swim. Now all my time is devoted to Motorcity, a show I created that we are making for Disney XD. It’s about muscle cars in the future for 12 year old boys or 40 year old men with a mid life crisis.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I worked at an Exxon service station in New Jersey. It was right off the turnpike, next to an adult book store and right across from another Exxon station. I’m pretty sure it was owned by the mob. When I worked the night shift, we would watch the Simpsons on an old black and white tv and play hockey with brooms and spray can tops while washing down the bays.
I also worked at a video rental shop. It didn’t have a porn section. Bummer.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
I’ve been pretty lucky. I have a lot of favorites. I was at MTV in the mid-late 90’s and have been working with Adult Swim for the past 7 years. My first directing gig was the.. hallucination sequence in “Beavis and Butt-Head Do America.” I came up in storyboards on Beavis and “The Head” and then directed on the first season of “Daria” before creating a show called “Downtown” for MTV. When that was cancelled I came out here to LA with Shannon, my wife. Out here we developed “Metalocalypse” for Adult Swim and now we’re doing a buttload of shows I’m super proud of for them including “Freaknik”, “Superjail!”, “China, IL”, “Venture Bros” and “Black Dynamite.” Some other faves over the years have been all the “Guitar Hero” cinematics, “GI Joe : Resolute”, “Megas XLR” and “The Amazing Screw on Head.” Is that enough favorites? I won’t talk about my least favorites…
How did you become interested in animation?
Pretty much like any other asshole involved in animation. I drew a lot as a kid, loved cartoons, etc, etc… Started playing around with the video camera in high school and when my best friend went to film school at NYU, I thought I’d go for animation at SVA.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m from New Jersey. Born in Trenton. When I was in school, I had to make money. I decided to quit my job at the service station (see above) and stay in the city for the summer to try and find animation work. I ended up getting two gigs – one was as an intern working for a small studio called Vanguard Media doing shorts for Liquid TV. I didn’t get paid at first, but they ended up being awesome and employing me with freelance that helped me pay the rest of my schooling expenses (Thanks Mike and Brian!) The other was an instructional video directed by one of my teachers. She had $2,200 for about 10 minutes of animation. At the time, that seemed like all the money in the world to me. My expenses were less than $500 a month. I was set for the whole summer. And I was making cartoons. Score.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Man, there is no typical day. It’s crazy all the time. As a studio owner, you are pretty much working 24/7, even when you are not at the studio. There’s a lot of meetings: meetings with artists, executives, potential clients, potential employees, salespeople, etc… And sometimes I get to draw.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
Any time I get to draw. So much of the time it’s looking at other people’s work and giving notes, or doing producer or business type shit. But when I can draw a picture, I remember why I’m in this business. Making cartoons is fun. And the shittiest day of this job is better than the best day of any other job I’ve had. It’s making cartoons! Who doesn’t love that?
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Having to be a business man. That part sucks a dog’s dick. It has very little to do with art or creativity, but it has to be done so we can keep on doing the creative stuff. Like the famous quote goes, “They call it ‘show business’ not ‘show do-whatever-the-fuck-you-want-
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
For me it’s that balance of running a studio and making sure I keep my eyes on the creative. Right now, I only want to focus on my show and making it as good as it can possibly be, but sometimes I get pulled into stuff like resolving disputes with the company we share a parking lot with.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
The Cintiq is our main piece of tech. That was the game changer. I got my first one in 2002. Now we have over 250 at our studios in LA and NY. The software and computers change, but that screen is what really allowed us to make the change from drawing on paper to a digital studio. Our entire production pipeline is based around it.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I’m super lucky to work with incredible artists and talent all the time. Some of my first gigs in animation were for Ralph Bakshi and Mike Judge. Now I work with show creators like Christy Karacas, Brendon Small, Tommy Blacha, and Brad Neely every day. And I’m convinced I’m working with the next generation of great animation artists.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
As a kid I fell out of a moving car, had all the skin burned off my leg, fell down a hill and impaled my face on a stick and my parents divorced – but I’m assuming you’re talking about my animation life. Since I’ve been running Titmouse, I’ve had to deal with a couple tough, stressful situations. One was when we had some low cash flow due to slow client payments and I had to ask artists to work on deferred payment for 4 weeks. That totally sucked. If our artists hadn’t stuck by us, I could’ve been in a horrible situation. But because they were awesome and loyal, we made it through and now we are more successful than ever. I really love the people we work with every day. I consider our employees my friends and family.
Any side projects you’re working on you’d like to share details of?
My main project now is Motorcity. I’ve kind of put the brakes on my own personal side projects for now, but as a studio we have a bunch. We’re doing an annual comic anthology book. We are making a couple independent features. We do a bunch of short films, directed by our artists and animators – including our 5 Second Day films. And we throw a party where we smash the shit out of old tvs and stuff with sledgehammers.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
It sounds really simple, but here it is: “Make Cartoons.” The more you make, the better you get. It helps you find your voice and if you make stuff, you have stuff to show. If you talk about the stuff you are going to make, you are not making it. Just jump in. It’s fun. And it’s super rewarding to finish a film. Even if it’s 10 seconds long. Your work is everything in this industry. It doesn’t matter if you have a degree, It’s your skill and your attitude that gets you that gig.
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