Brian Newlin

Brian Newlin

Director: Disrupted


A 1995 graduate of Ringling College of Art and Design, he’s been an animator for TV, commercials, and video games, and a layout artist for feature animation since 2003. He’s interested in all aspects of the story process, and has been a key creative voice on several projects.

In addition to his work at Dreamworks, he’s a writer and creator of many personal projects, including short stories for children.

Click here to check out his animated series Disrupted.

Ben Portrait

Disrupted is the story of Ben, a 40ish tech worker, who just lost his dream job. This delightfully animated micro-series centers around his disillusioned and absurd path back into the workforce.

Disrupted is based on Brian’s real-life events. The coffee shop was his outlet and the piece is his imagination brought to life. Brian … uh, we mean Ben, is a social person who needs to be around people in order to work.

Unlike many animated shorts, the series location is based on a real coffee shop (Backyard Coffee, in Redwood City, CA). This animation has 3D characters animated on background plates (pictures) of the coffee shop, so it’s animation on top of reality.

What is your favorite part of being an animation director?

Telling stories has been a lifelong passion of mine, and I gravitated towards animation at a very early age. I’ve worked in computer animation as a layout artist and animator for almost twenty years now, so the opportunity to tell my own story with the help of some any talented artists is amazing! Just kidding, ha hah, I just like telling people what to do and making crazy demands like “Move that 13 pixels to the right and make that yellow slightly less whimsical.”

Disrupted Camera Shots

What is your inspiration?
Hahaha, for Disrupted? It’s loosely based on my real-life experience of being steadily employed for almost 20 years, sitting at a desk in a studio surrounded by my friends, then suddenly finding myself part of a massive layoff and becoming one of the many coffee shop warriors who sit there all day on their laptops. I didn’t go quite as crazy as the character Ben does, but I did encounter some of the more eccentric regulars and started to go a bit stir crazy in my new life.

How did you get connected with Nimble?
I’ve been lucky enough to know most of the Nimble founders during our years together at the same animation studio before they left to form Nimble. During my time sitting at the coffee shop, writing these increasingly bizarre status updates about my new situation, I was approached by Rex and asked if I’d want to see my ideas as an animated show.

Disrupted Art

What are your influences?
I love absurdist humor, authors like Daniel Pinkwater and Terry Pratchett, artists like Graham Annable and Bill Watterson, any old monster movie, and my 6-year-old son/biggest critic.

What do you love about animation?
Animation is the most direct line to your imagination. The idea that you’re working with a team of brilliant and creative people to make a visual representation of what’s in your head, as bizarre or as mundane as you can describe, is incredible to me. I just remember as a kid seeing the Herculoids cartoon on Saturday morning and thinking “How did they make a movie out of my dreams?”

Ben Making Faces

If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?
For the show, I think I would have pre-planned our shots a bit better. At the time, I was just about to move from the Bay Area to Los Angeles, so my head wasn’t quite in it as we did our first round of live action plates at the coffee shop we used. It led to a lot of compromises in our camera angles, and that was completely my fault as the director. If we’re talking about my entire life, I think I would have kept up on my saxophone lessons better.

Favorite animated short/feature?
Oh jeez, how can I narrow it down to just one?? Iron Giant? Paranorman? The Incredibles? Spirited Away? aggghhhhhhhh

What’s next?
I’ve actually been able to spend the past year just writing full time, starting to pitch animated series scripts to a few studios. I would absolutely love to continue writing and developing new stories and hope to continue working with Nimble to bring them to life.

If you could work with any filmmaker, living or dead, who would it be?
Without hesitation, Jim Henson.

If you could be any animated character, who or what would you be?
Captain Caveman

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