Lean & Mean: Lanky mixes things up

Creative development studio Lanky is using its small size to its advantage, partnering with companies off the beaten path and building a big reputation.
August 3, 2018

Make no mistake about it: Brooklyn-based Lanky is excited about Don’t Mix Us Up.

The web series is the first creative project for the development studio founded in 2017 by former Toca Boca execs Cassandra Berger and J Milligan. Created in partnership with Boston’s FableVision, the collection of animated music videos for tweens and teens bowed in May on AardBoiled, the YouTube channel operated by UK animation studio Aardman.

The videos, featuring lyrics by FableVision’s Tone Thyne, humorously set the record straight on commonly confused things. Uploaded weekly, videos to date include “Cabbage and Lettuce,” “Mustache and Eyebrow,” “Whipped Cream and Shaving Cream,” “Zero and the Letter O” and “Salt and Sugar.”

Berger and Milligan previously worked together in animation and production roles for Toca Boca’s now-defunct Toca TV operation. When the pair decided to launch Lanky, they were able to bring several properties, including Don’t Mix Us Up.

“We were developing it for Toca TV, but then it didn’t have a home, so we were really happy that Aardman fell in love with it. A lot of our shows in development are part of the portfolio we had from Toca and Spin Master,” says Milligan. “We’re really focused on the development phase of things right now, and we’re definitely pitching some long-form ideas.”

There are additional collaborations on the horizon, and Lanky is currently partnering with a number of companies on pitch bibles and content marketing. For the latter, the duo is creating animated videos that will be used on Instagram and YouTube to bring attention to various products.

“The biggest challenge is that it’s just the two of us,” Berger says of Lanky’s upcoming projects. “We have to balance our creative time with our business time, both for our own work and our service work. It’s a new but exciting adventure for both of us.”

Milligan agrees that the team’s small size is both a challenge and an asset for Lanky moving forward. “Our team is small, but our overhead is really low and our network is really big. This is how we’re rolling—we’re keeping ourselves small intentionally right now because we want to get ourselves firmly established,” he says.

Recently, Lanky provided service work for education management company Amplify and robotics company Sosu, both based in Brooklyn. Additionally, Berger and Milligan have done some consulting with Boston-based public broadcaster WGBH.

“Interesting people have found us who aren’t super-mainstream or in the place where they can hire someone really big, and we’ve done some great work with them,” Milligan says. “We’re trying to create pieces of positive culture. Some of it is mission-driven, some of it is overtly educational or curriculum-driven, and some of it is just funny. But it all comes from a good place—we want to put good things out into the world.”

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