Flipping the Script

By Sacha Presburger ’21, March 13, 2019
Professor’s film highlights an animation company focused on diversity.

While more than 60 percent students currently studying animation and art in college are women, less than a quarter of the high-ranking jobs in the animation industry are held by them. It’s a striking example of gender bias in the modern workplace, and one that Chrissy Guest, an assistant professor in the Department of Media Arts, Sciences and Studies, is looking at in her new film, “The Women of Titmouse Animation.” But there’s a twist: Rather than being an expose piece on a studio which adheres to this bias, Guest chose to focus on a company doing the right thing, hoping other studios can learn from the example it has set. 

Titmouse is a full-service animation company founded in 2000 by Chris and Shannon Prynoski. It currently employs more than 400 people. “Titmouse is a small studio, but at the same time it has a very diverse workforce, and really puts an effort into that,” Guest says.

In addition to the focus on Titmouse, Guest interviewed many women about their experience in the industry. They have a wide variety of roles, something Guest felt it was crucial to show. “It’s geared towards people who don’t understand the animation pipeline,” she says. “It discusses each role in animation through the view of women, from background and storyboard artists to directors and producers.”

But despite the difference in their job titles, all of the women interviewed have a common thread: each of them had to overcome many obstacles facing women in animation due to gender bias, especially while in school.

The film has been received very well so far on the festival circuit. Last October, it was screened at the “Breaking the Glass Frame: Women and Animation, Past, Present, Future” symposium at the University of Southern California. The film will also screen at the Women of Wonder Film Festival in Honolulu, Hawaii, from March 15-17, and at the Artemis Women in Action Film Festival in California, in April. Guest also hopes to take the film on tour to college campuses across the country after it completes its time on the festival circuit.