Pinched Cover


Pinched is a story about a pickpocket whose inner demons command his every action until fate gives him the chance to redeem himself and reconnect with a long-lost love.


Pinched is a 2009 eleven minutes American  2D animated short film produced by Titmouse Inc. The story was written by David Vandervoort, and Micke TongKeith Fay. The film was directed and animated by David Vandervoort with music by Tom Erba.

Vandervoort is a self-taught artist who has worked on a range of commercial and television projects at several studios in his quest to make animated features. During his time at Titmouse, Vandervoort worked as an Animation Director on Disney’s Motor City while working on Pinched in his spare time. A few years later, Vandervoort worked on ParaNorman (2012), The Boxtrolls (2014), and Kubo and the Two Strings (2016).



In an interview, Vandervoort revealed that he had the idea about a pickpocket and a chase scene but had nothing further as a larger story to hang that concept on. In 2003 when he met his wife it triggered the idea to use a love story as a foil for redemption, and the whole concept solidified when a friend suggested he added a demon taskmaster.

Pinched was made using primarily the Adobe Creative Suite. The animation and storyboards were created in Flash, with background drawings completed in Photoshop, and compositing in After Effects. Apple Final Cut Pro was employed for the final edit. The film stars voice actors Ruff Jackson as JackMinnie Goode as RachelTammy Hicks as Nikki

The film is about Jack, a schizophrenic pickpocket, that wanders in the underground trains at the command of his inner demons. They make him believe he can do crazy things like jumping off buildings and he basically does their bidding. Other than his demons he seems to be interacting with Nikki. She works as a bartender at  Dementia Cocktails and it seems to be a place he frequents often. But even that seems to be a fragment of his imagination.

When a chance encounter with fate reconnects him with a long-lost love, Rachel, he must test his strength and defy the voices in his head. In the end, the quest for love proves the most meaningful endeavor of all and the final cure for his sickness. The film can be watched on YouTube and on Vandervoorts’ Vimeo channel.



The animation is very distinctive. It reminds me of some music video animation from the early 2000s. It’s also an interesting approach to mental illness, paranoid schizophrenia, and the inner battle some people have against themselves. The film is for mature audiences as it has some nudity during Jack’s flashbacks.

It is a simple story with no drama but has an important message, especially in this era where mental illness is so prevalent. Jack fights against his own guilt and darkness deep inside. Everybody struggles with mental challenges, and the message is to keep fighting as there is something out there for you. If you don’t keep fighting you won’t discover it. If you don’t make the journey you won’t reach your destination. Jack had to go through some experiences to realize what Rachel meant to him. And on her part, Rachel seems to be understanding of his situation and offers him symbolically her support.

The scene where the colors and the monsters change and the whole world just lightens up after he touches the love of his life and finally feels understood instead of just a freak it’s a very powerful metaphor. It has the traditional simple happy ending: love beats all evil. Love comes in all formats: the unconditional love of family, the romantic love of a partner, the supportive love of a friend, and the compassionate love of a stranger. It’s a powerful positive beautiful energy.




The short film is 12 years old and was not on my radar. A short clip from the film which is the scene I just described was posted on Twitter by a famous actress and in a later post, the link to the film was posted by one of her followers.



Pinched has a very different animation style and an interesting story. It’s a film about a young thief, mental illness, schizophrenia, ordinary everyday life, and the way we see other that is different from us.

The film is fascinating, a must-watch for its theme and for the details in the animation. The distinction between the protagonist’s fight against his demons and the cure gives his life a different and more beautiful meaning. In the end, it could be a story about you and your experiences which makes it a relatable and significant story. Keep fighting and don’t lose hope!


All images in this publication belong to the original creators and are used as references under fair use.

My notes are all set. Let me know what you think.

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