Animation studio BUCK makes leadership moves

(l-r: Mike Rauch, Cassie Asta,Mike Bertino)

Global creative company and award-winning animation studio BUCK (Netflix’s We the PeopleLove, Death & Robots) is expanding its Original Animation department.

The company announced today Mike Rauch has joined the cutting-edge collective as Head of Original Animation with Mike Bertino being named Director, Content & Story. Both are working closely with BUCK’s Head of Content Development, Jay Brooker.

Co-creator of the Peabody Award-winning animated shorts series StoryCorps, Rauch previously spent five years as a Series Executive at Cartoon Network covering shows such as The Powerpuff GirlsApple & Onion, and Victor and Valentino, as well as recently consulting on the development and production of Cartoon Network Latin America’s new Lucha libre series Rey Mysterio vs. The Darkness.

Prior to that, Rauch formed and ran Rauch Bros Animation for nine years with clients including Nickelodeon, Warner Bros. Animation, Sesame Workshop, and the Olympic Channel.

Prior to BUCK, Bertino primarily worked in adult animation, directing on shows such as Shion Takeuchi’s Inside Job for Netflix and J.G. Quintel’s Close Enough for HBO MAX.

Before that, he spent several years in the kids animation space, storyboarding and writing on shows such as Nickelodeon’s Sanjay And Craig and Aaron Springer’s B’illey Dilley Super-Duper Subterranean Summer for Disney. 

Further bolstering its team as the company expands its operations in key growth areas, Cassie Astahas joined as Animation Development Coordinator at BUCK. Before landing at BUCK, Asta cut her teeth at talent agencies ICM and CAA prior to joining the crew of Green Eggs & Ham at Warner Bros Animation for Netflix. Then, at Cartoon Network, she served on the Current Series team covering shows Victor & Valentino and The Fungies! for HBO Max. She also leads a mentorship circle for Women in Animation providing counsel and community for newcomers to the animation industry.

Rauch, Bertino and Asta are all based in BUCK’s Los Angeles studio office.

“Finding the right fit for the original animation offering wasn’t easy; we needed personnel who are highly adaptable and who understand the full spectrum of possibilities that BUCK represents,” said Jay Brooker. “What we’ve found in this newly assembled group is a perfect blend of experience, artistry, and business-savvy. Everyone is a thoughtful team player with a global outlook and great taste – a perfect fit for BUCK and we couldn’t be more excited to have them with us!”

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“BUCK is home not just to some of the best creative talent on the globe, but also some of the world’s greatest collaborators,” says Rauch. “That potent mix of artistic excellence and true partnership is propelling us as we bring BUCK’s unique creative voice to TV and film.” Bertino adds: “BUCK is hands-down the most exciting independant studio in the world right now—a totally awesome playground for storytellers and creators looking to break the mold. It’s such a collaborative group, and I’m pumped to jump in with such a highly talented team.”

The additions to the BUCK team come on the heels of a busy year for the studio that oversaw episodes on Chris Nee, Kenya Barris, and Higher Ground Productions’ award-winning We the People for Netflix. The short animated series landed an NAACP Image Award as well as two Annie Award nominations for BUCK. The team also wrote and directed “Night of the Mini Dead,” from volume 3 of Netflix’s hit series Love, Death + Robots; the trailer for Bored Ape Yacht Club’s Otherside; and a series of shorts to help launch HBO Max’s Cartoonito programming block.

BUCK continues to grow year over year, now employing 400 full-time employees with offices in Los Angeles, New York, Sydney, and Amsterdam which was opened last year.

BUCK’s strength comes from the diversity of talents under its collective roof. World-class artists, storytellers, designers, animators, creative technologists, strategists and more all come together to create unique properties encompassing a huge range of styles across 2D, 3D, and hybrid techniques. 

“We don’t have a house style, and if we ever do have one, that’ll be the beginning of the end,” says Brooker. “For every story we tell, we build a bespoke team of creative minds to invent something totally original. We want to surprise and delight ourselves and the audience.”

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