Director, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 Key moment of inspiration: The first time I saw a Barry run cycle I felt like we were onto something. The first film we were always struggling to find the “hook”... that being the visualization of the disaster movie with food falling from the sky. The idea of Flint going on a quest to destroy his own creation was really cool to me, and seeing how the sentient food would someday look and move really flipped a switch in my optimism for the sequel. Like it or leave it ... that’s our “hook”. The toughest part of making the movie: It was the story. Cracking the story is always the hardest part. Finding a new journey for the characters and giving them something to learn. I hope we succeeded ... But you can only do the best you can with the time you have. We had a fantastic team of story artists and writers that helped us. Fave animated character or movie: I really loved Nicodemus from The Secret of N.I.M.H. He had fantastic hands. I also love the Coyote. So much optimism in the face of failure. On the state of feature toons: It’s tricky... There’s definitely a more crowded market place for all of us to be competing in. I would hope that the medium will someday find a home for different stories other than the “four quad family comedy” ... In the way live action has found many niches and such. I think it depends on two things: The budget of the films (can we make them cheaper) and the audience’s appetite. I want to believe that a decent story has a chance to reach an audience in any medium. I am excited that CG is starting to feel more artistic and diverse from where it was five years ago. From Brave to Despicable Me to what we do at Sony... There’s a broader approach to design and animation styling. I hope that trend continues. I also really hope stop-motion finds a place in the future. I really love what LAIKA and Aardman are doing and have done in the past. I could watch Shaun the Sheep all day long and still be entertained. I’m really excited about The Boxtrolls. All in all... I’m optimistic. Career beginnings: It involved a bit of luck and a bit of timing. I grew up on a farm two hours away from one of the best classical animation schools in the world (Sheridan College). I had a terrific guidance counselor when I was in grade 11 named Mr. Johnson. He told me about the school and advised me to give it a look (I was about to embark on a quest to find a real job in engineering or architecture). I visited the college and became obsessed with finding my way into the program and a career in animation. I was lucky enough to be accepted right out of high school, and the year I started at the college was around the time of The Lion King breaking open. Suddenly there was so much work for animators and it was a crazy boom for the business. I got my first job in second year, and I’ve been lucky enough to stay employed ever since. Best advice: “When it rains... Put on a coat.” Making movies isn’t easy... If it was, everybody would do it. You have to be wrong, you have to learn from failure, you have to bounce back from brutal notes, you have to deal with finance and schedule, you have to face the critics, you have to try and inspire and encourage 300 other people and let them inspire and encourage you... It’s a big, long, messy job to get something up on the screen. A lot has to line up... Some things you can control, but mostly stuff you can’t. Running a marathon in all kinds of weather is probably the best analogy. So the advice to (at the risk of being cliché), “Stay calm and carry on” is probably the most apt. React to the game, not the score. All these metaphors keep me going... But they all say the same thing... Don’t give up until they make you. Whoever “they” happen to be!