Concordia University

Stefanie Bitton is excited about what lies ahead for Montreal-based animation studio TONIC DNA

Alumna is vice-president and executive producer of advertising at Montreal-based animation studio
July 9, 2018
By Daniel Bartlett

Stefanie Bitton, BComm 02, imagined she would work in the global marketplace after completing her studies in international business at Concordia. What she did not expect is what type of company she would eventually help lead.

“I always loved animation — even as a young adult I would go see animated movies,” says Bitton, vice-president and executive producer of advertising at TONIC DNA. “But I had no idea that I would be in animation.”

Stefanie Bitton Stefanie Bitton, vice-president and executive producer of advertising at TONIC DNA, says Concordia helped her understand how to approach different cultures: “Doing business in Latin America is very different from doing business in the United States or Canada.” | Photo: Concordia University

Formerly known as Studio Pascal Blais, TONIC DNA is a Montreal-based animation studio founded in 1983. The company specializes in a variety of different forms of animation, including traditional 2D, 3D and visual effects, stop-motion and motion design.

With a roster of directors and animators who produce content for advertising, television and film, Bitton explains that the aim of the studio’s recent rebrand was to reflect its current mission and values.

“We’re named TONIC DNA for Directors ‘N Animators,” she says. “We made this change because our directors and animators are a crucial part of our company and our values. We wanted to have a name that really represented that.”

Concordia and Costa Rica

After graduating from Concordia, Bitton scanned the job postings on the website of the Government of Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade’s (now Global Affairs Canada). Her hope was to work in international business and learn Spanish at the same time.

She eventually found what she was looking for in Costa Rica, where she interned as a consultant at CEGESTI and the Costa Rican Chamber of Exporters for seven months.

Bitton credits Concordia for helping her better understand the needs of the job market.

“When I graduated, I didn’t ask myself: What am I going to do now?” she recalls. “The university prepared me and I was ready to move forward.”

When she returned to Montreal, Bitton looked for work and came across a listing for someone who had sales experience and was fluent in Spanish, French and English. The company was Studio Pascal Blais.

“They hired me in 2005 to develop business in new markets, including Latin America,” Bitton says. “I didn’t have any experience in animation, television or film, but it was really to approach advertising agencies, production companies and other clienteles in Latin America.”

Tonic DNA Tonic DNA is a Montreal-based full-service, award-winning animation studio. | Photo: Concordia University

After working as a business development representative, Bitton transitioned into a management role before becoming a partner in January 2015. The best advice she can give to anybody who wants to become an entrepreneur is to get some work experience before jumping into a career.

“I learned so much as an employee — it helped me realize what I like and what I don’t and how to implement it as a manager,” Bitton says.

Big project on the horizon

Animators at TONIC DNA are currently working on a yet-to-be announced children’s web series featuring major producers and international stars. While details are still under wraps, Bitton says everyone at the studio is bustling with excitement over the project.

The company plans to make an official announcement in the fall.

“It’s a unique project because it’s hand-drawn and there are not a lot of animation studios worldwide that do that anymore,” Bitton says. “There’s a huge talent pool of artists who are still traditional animators in Montreal. For that reason alone, it was easy to recruit for this project.”

Hiring animators directly out of school is also something the studio prioritizes. TONIC DNA recently sponsored the Concordia Film Festival for the first time in May 2018 and has been a sponsor of the Stop Motion Festival the last five years.

“It’s really important for us to participate in the Quebec animation market and it starts with the schools,” Bitton says. “We look at the talent, bring them here, train them and try to help them grow.”

Back to top

© Concordia University