EXCLUSIVE: Solis Animation and rockers Rare Americans launch new animation studio

Courtesy of Crooked CIty Studios
Crooked City Studios comes after Toronto-based Solis Animation and Vancouver's Rare Americans worked on 16 music videos together.

Toronto-based studio Solis Animation and Vancouver indie rock band Rare Americans have launched a new animation studio.

Crooked City Studios is billed as a creative hub and natural evolution for the two entities, after creating 16 popular animated music videos together for Rare Americans. The leadership team comprises Leah Solis, Les Solis and Lou Solis from Solis Animation, along with James Priestner and Jared Priestner from Rare Americans.

Toronto-based Crooked City Studios already has two original projects in development: the Crooked City series (pictured) and the feature film Brittle Bones Nicky, which is inspired by the hit Rare Americans music video of the same name. Both are created by Rare Americans’ James and Jared Priestner, who will also executive produce. Solis Animation’s Leah Solis will oversee both productions as the producer.

A total of 15 new music videos are slated for 2022 under the Crooked City banner, with several already in development.

Crooked City will have eight, 30-minute episodes and follow a struggling young musician who faces a tough decision when offered fame and fortune on an alien planet. James Priestner will voice the lead role and Lou Solis will direct the project, which the studio says suits both streamers and traditional broadcasters. Completion of the pilot is targeted for this spring, with the remaining episodes finished in late 2022.

Brittle Bones Nicky follows the sharp-witted, titular young man as he looks for family and a safe haven while navigating a broken social system with the help of his future dead self. Les Solis will direct the film, which is slated to be completed at the end of 2022 and comes after fan demand for a continuing storyline for the protagonist. The studio says the film is not intended for theatrical but streaming.

“The stellar combination of the band’s songs and our visual storytelling really seem to resonate with people and it’s been such a joy to witness their fans gravitate towards our animated videos,” says Leah Solis, in a statement. “Building Crooked City Studios is an exciting opportunity to develop fresh content and introduce new viewers to an already growing engaged audience.”

James Priestner says working with Solis Animation starting in early 2019 marked a “turning point for Rare Americans.”

“Our goal has always been to make a positive impact on people’s lives and to tackle tough subject matter that kids are dealing with every day,” he adds. “Our work will always reflect that core mission.”

Solis Animation is an award-winning, family run independent studio specializing in 2D design and animation for film, television, SVOD, advertising and digital media. Its credits include Comedy Central’s Ugly Americans and Moonbeam City, Gord Downie’s The Secret Path for CBC, and Gary And His Demons for VRV. The studio has also worked on music videos for artists including Jessie Reyez and Pup.

Rare Americans, launched by James and Jared Priestner in 2018, are known for pairing their songs with narrative-driven animated videos. The band, which saw its 2021 album RA2 make the Billboard Top 100 album charts, also includes guitarists Lubo Ivan and Jan Cajka, and Duran Ritz on drums.

Image courtesy of Crooked City Studios.