Director, Turbo Key moment of inspiration: My six-year-old son’s obsession with racecars combined with the snail problem in my front yard—that was the inspiration. Committing to making an underdog story was the key that unlocked the front door. Underdogs live lives that are stacked with obstacles. Nobody expects them to succeed. I realized that a snail is the ultimate underdog: They’re stepped on by kids, carried off by crows, eaten by the French and really, painfully, excruciatingly slow. That said, a moment of inspiration is just that—a moment. What really makes it all come together is just a lot of hard work, a talented and unified team, and dumb luck. Toughest part of making the movie: Getting past the development phase and into production was rough. We went down so many roads with the story that all seemed to lead to dead ends. The good of all that work though, was that by the time we finally crewed up, I really knew the movie I wanted to make. It made the production much smoother, faster and cheaper than if we’d encountered all those problems with an army of people aboard. Fave animated movie or character of all time: Since you didn’t specify running time, I’m choosing Nick Park’s The Wrong Trousers. It’s an incredible short chock full of charm and ingenuity. On the state of feature animation: With so many animated movies being made every year, release dates, especially for non-sequels, are fast becoming more important to financial success than the quality of the movies themselves. It’s a sad reality but, as filmmakers, it’s all the more reason to push ourselves to tell the best stories we can, to ensure the audience is invested in our characters, and to really push the envelope with our visuals. Making high-quality, original movies is the best way to ensure audiences don’t get satisfied with mediocre product. Career beginnings: I drew from a young age and had my heart set on attending Sheridan College, which was the only school to go to study animation near my hometown of Toronto. Tragically, they rejected me the first time I applied. So I went elsewhere, studied fine art and creative writing for year, worked on my portfolio, then reapplied and got in. I was recruited by DreamWorks out of school as a story artist and have been here ever since. Best advice: We were lucky enough to have Wally Pfister as a visual consultant on Turbo. Early on, we had a color script that was very traditional in the sense that it had dozens of dynamically colored tiny paintings representing key moments from the story. Wally thought it was beautiful but cautioned that, “too much candy is going to make you sick.” His point was that certain moments in the story need to pop, but if everything is screaming out for attention, nothing has any weight or importance. It was a fantastic note and one that applies equally to every aspect of filmmaking—from camera movement and pacing, to acting, music and sound design.