B.C.’s Atomic Cartoons sketches success with “Princesses Wear Pants”

B.C.’s Atomic Cartoons sketches success with “Princesses Wear Pants”

“Sometimes you’ve got to put your pants on and get things done”

Jennifer Twiner McCarron remembers when daycare staff took bets on when her daughter would finally stop wearing sparkly princess dresses.

So the CEO of Vancouver’s Thunderbird Entertainment and its subsidiary Atomic Cartoons could definitely relate to the co-authors of “Princesses Wear Pants,” NBC anchor Savannah Guthrie and parent educator Allison Oppenheim.

Both had young daughters who also went through a princess phase. While they worried about their girls aspiring to be princesses, they also wanted to let them embrace what they enjoyed, Twiner McCarron said.

“The moral for the book for them started from: It’s OK to embrace your pink and sparkly side and be feminine, but it’s also more important what you do than what you look like,” she said.

“That’s the part about wearing your pants. It’s OK to be a princess, but sometimes you’ve got to put your pants on and get things done.”

Atomic Cartoons is now producing a “Princesses Wear Pants” animated series that follows the adventures of courageous go-getter — and occasional trouser-wearer — Princess Penelope Pineapple. Drew Barrymore’s Flower Films is among the executive producers.

RELATED: Girls face sexism as early as 10 years old: Girl Guides poll

It’s the latest achievement for Atomic Cartoons, which Twiner McCarron has helmed since 2016 and helped grow to 450 staff from 20. She recently also became CEO of Thunderbird Entertainment, which produced “Blade Runner 2049” and “Kim’s Convenience.”

The theme of “Princesses Wear Pants” resonated with her as a female leader in an industry where men still dominate in top positions. She’s an active member of Women in Animation, which aims to increase female representation in the business.

She advises young women: “If a new door of responsibility opens, just try and walk through it. What’s the worst thing that could happen? It doesn’t work out? That’s OK, you pick yourself up and you do something else.”

Atomic Cartoons is based in a sprawling mural-covered building in east Vancouver. The city is a “hotspot” for visual effects and animation, said Twiner McCarron, sitting in her tiny office adorned with Halloween decorations.

Vancouver is a world leader with about 60 visual effects and animation studios. And Netflix and other streaming services have boosted demand for content, helping British Columbia become Canada’s top spot for film and TV production last year, according to figures from the Canadian Media Producers Association.

“There’s so much of a need for content because people also consume it so quickly,” said Twiner McCarron. “Before, as it applies to animation, you were vying for those five primetime spots on Saturday morning, so it was much more competitive.”

Now, she said, children’s programming has not only become more ubiquitous, it’s also gotten faster-paced. Disney’s “Bambi,” a favourite of hers when she was growing up, nearly put her kids to sleep, she said.

“The cutting is a lot faster. We used to do a 22-minute show and 325 shots seemed like a lot. Now we’ll do a 22-minute show with 500 shots,” she said, adding that episodes lasting seven or 11 minutes are becoming common too.

While Vancouver’s industry is booming, the city has a well-documented downside: wildly unaffordable housing. Atomic Cartoons is set to open its next office in Ottawa, a more attractive locale to young employees who want to lay down roots and start families.

“Where do young people want to be and thrive? Vancouver’s hard, as we all know,” Twiner McCarron said. “It’s an expensive city. Ottawa has art, culture, politics, it’s the capital of Canada, great schools and it’s affordable still.”

Looking ahead, the CEO plans to continue to find great books to transform into shows. She often chats with librarians to find out what kids are reading, and recently inked a deal to turn Max Brallier’s “Eerie Elementary” into a live-action show.

She aims to create content that makes the world a better place — even in small ways.

“What’s the value of my work? We are essentially helping parents cook dinner quietly,” she said with a laugh. “But at least they can put some stuff on that’s quality and … has good values and messaging.”

Laura Kane, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

Black Crow Cannabis is just one of Vernon's many pot shops now open in town. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Kelowna has highest cannabis fees in Okanagan

Vernon’s 14 stores pay second highest business licence fees

Serving alcohol has been altered in the Central Okanagan Public Schools policy regarding rental of school facilities for after-school hours events. (Contributed)
Alcohol option opened up at Central Okanagan school facilities rented for events

Central Okanagan Board of Education retains final approval for after-hours event approvals

Voting day for the upcoming Central Okanagan Board of Education by-election is June 26. (Contributed)
Central Okanagan school board election set for June 26

Kelowna voters will go the polls to fill vacant Kelowna trustee seat

Two bikes that were stolen after a West Kelowna parking garage was looted on April 3. Photo: Crime Stoppers Central Okanagan
Parking garage looted in West Kelowna

A car was broken into and six storage lockers were ransacked

Flow Academy is located at 1511 Sutherland Avenue in Kelowna. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Black Press Media Weekly Roundup: Top headlines this week

Here’s a quick roundup of the stories that made headlines across the Okanagan, from April 11 to 16

Penticton bylaw officers tore down a “pretty significantly sized” homeless camp underneath the bridge near Riverside Drive Friday, April 16 morning. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton bylaw tears down ‘significantly sized’ homeless camp under bridge

Many residents had made complaints about the camp before it was torn down

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Premier John Horgan receives a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty’s Foods in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of residents in B.C. have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Ford F-350s have been targeted in the North Okanagan by auto thieves since February 2021, Vernon North Okanagan RCMP data shows. (Gene J. Puskar - The Canadian Press/AP file)
Auto thieves target older Ford F-350s in Vernon: RCMP

Vernon Mounties remind all motorists no vehicle is immune to auto crime

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Most Read