Artist - M.R. Horhager

Canadian Animation Artist Interview with M.R. Horhager

Brief Animation Bio
M.R. Horhager is a filmmaker/studio director based out of Toronto, Canada. His films include Extreme Nuts (2010), Ball'oons (2011), Ringo (2012) and I Hate You Red Light (2012). He is currently working as a director at Smiley Guy Studios on the animated series Chirp for CBC.

SPACE-MISSIONARIES - Created by M.R. Horhager

What part of Canada are you from M.R.?
I was born and raised in Toronto.

M.R. Horhager

What inspired you to create animation?
I grew up on a healthy serving of Looney Tunes, Merry Melodies, He-man, G.I. Joe, Transformers and the Disney features. For as long as I can remember I wanted to make cartoons.

How would you describe your artistic style?
For my films, I generally work with a different designer or art-director, so visually each film has its own look. I do worry that it may work against me that my films aren’t as easy identifiable, but I’d like to think that my sensibilities do shine through. In my case it’s more about the way I tell stories than how it looks.




What role do you play in the creation of animation?
I’ve worked for several years as a storyboard artist, but recently I’ve been working as a studio director for Smiley Guy Studios on a new show called Chirp, which airs on CBC.

What is one project that you are proud to have been involved in?
I was on a show called Peg+Cat, which won an Emmy this past year. The show was produced at 9Story and it gave me the opportunity to work with an amazing director named Cory Bobiak. I learned so much from him and really grew as a storyteller.

What projects are you working on now?
Well, I’ve already mentioned Chirp… other than that I’m working on a few short films. One is called Kafka’s Little Fable. It’s the first time I’m adapting someone else’s story for one of my films and I’m really excited to see how people react to it.


I also recently found out that the amazingly talented Billy West will be narrating an episode of Bot Bot & Spectacles that I wrote and directed. The show is a new series out of Colombia.


Aside from this, I’m working with the amazing people at Radical Sheep on an original show idea called The Nighty Nocts, which is about three nocturnal animals that glow in the dark. I also have an idea that I co-created with my colleague Aaron Hong that’s in development at Portfolio Entertainment.

STARBOARD & STERN - Created by M.R. Horhager

Who is one of your favourite Canadian animators?
I’ve worked with so many talented artists that it’s difficult to narrow it down. I really like what Sam Chou is doing these days - the stuff that’s coming out of is so fresh and exciting. Brett Jubinville over at Tinman seems to have some really fun ideas coming out of his shop. And I can’t forget about the Solis brothers, who always seem to be working on the coolest projects.


What is one of your favourite animation books? 
It’s not an animation book per se, but last year I read Disney War by James B. Stewart. It chronicled Michael Eisner’s tenure running Disney from 1984 to 2005. I’ve seen a few documentaries about that period (Waking Sleeping Beauty, The Sweatbox), but it was interesting learning about the conditions that triggered the films of that period.

Who is an up-and-coming or relatively unknown Canadian animator that everyone should check out?
I’ve been lucky enough to work with Mel Maduro a few times.
Check out her work: She rocks!

Artwork by Mel Maduro - Source:
Also, everyone needs to check out Omar Al-Hafidh. His drawings are really great but when he animates… it’s magic!
Check out his blog:

Are you involved with any animation organizations in Canada?
I’ve contributed several interviews to the TAAFI website and have a few more lined up in the coming months.

Have your films won any animation awards/accolades?
Our film I Hate You Red Light won a TAAFI 2013 Audience Choice award as well as “Best Animation” at the 2013 Canadian International Film Festival.