Su­nil Hall

Animation Magazine - - RIS­ING STARS -

Co-Cre­ator/Exec Pro­ducer, The Mighty Ones, Dream­Works An­i­ma­tion Su­nil Hall’s im­pres­sive list of TV cred­its in­cludes high-pro­file shows such as Grav­ity Falls, Pickle and Peanut and The Pen­guins of Mada­gas­car. But 2020 could be his big­gest and busiest year ever, since The Mighty Ones, the show he co-cre­ated and exec pro­duces, will de­but on Hulu and Pea­cock.

The show’s ori­gins go back about seven years ago when Hall’s friend Lynne Nay­lor showed him a se­ries of loose car­toon ideas.“She had a sketch of some tiny crea­tures — a rock, leaf and stick — which I was to­tally drawn to. They were these side char­ac­ters in a big­ger story. I sug­gested we fo­cus on those lit­tle guys and what their lives are like. Some­thing about these tiny crea­tures hav­ing to nav­i­gate a giant un­pre­dictable world re­ally ap­pealed to me. They are in­spired by a lot of the in­ter­est­ing ec­cen­tric peo­ple we have met in the an­i­ma­tion in­dus­try!”

Hall’s in­ter­est in an­i­ma­tion had a grad­ual build.“I’ve al­ways been draw­ing, and I started tak­ing serious art classes when I was 10. At about 12 or 13 I got into draw­ing comics. Around that time my mom got a video cam­era, so I started mak­ing films and an­i­mated projects. In high school we had a small an­i­ma­tion pro­gram. My teacher told me about CalArts and I went to an open house. See­ing all the stu­dent work was huge for me. I think that was the mo­ment I was like, ‘Yeah, this is what I’m do­ing with my life.’”

Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from CalArts, Hall ac­cepted an in­tern­ship at a small startup stu­dio called Stick­yFlicks. “I mostly did cleanups, a lit­tle de­sign work and I got Star­bucks cof­fee for peo­ple. Then I spilled a ton of cof­fee down my own back. Af­ter that, I didn’t have to get cof­fee any­more. My first long-term job was as prop de­signer on Nick­elodeon’s My Life as a Teenage Ro­bot. It was an amaz­ing crew. I’m still friends with many of the peo­ple I met on that show, and sev­eral of them work on The Mighty Ones.”

Hall says one of the things he loves about his job is that he gets to make stupid jokes and draw with a bunch of funny, tal­ented peo­ple. “The show has re­ally grown and changed into some­thing much bet­ter than what we started with. Watch­ing all these amaz­ing de­sign­ers and story peo­ple take own­er­ship and push the show to new lev­els is re­ally awe­some,” he of­fers. “The tough part is that no one teaches you how to run a show, they just kind of drop you in.”

One of the peo­ple who left a last­ing im­pact on Hall was an­i­ma­tion di­rec­tor and de­signer Chris Rec­ca­rdi, who passed away in 2019. “Chris’s work was re­ally in­flu­en­tial on me when I was in school. I got to know him when I was at Nick­elodeon, and we used to go on snow­board­ing trips to­gether. He in­tro­duced me to his wife Lynne (another an­i­ma­tion idol I was lucky enough to work with) on one of these trips and that meet­ing kicked off our cre­ative col­lab­o­ra­tion on The Mighty Ones. Chris boarded and wrote part of our pi­lot episode. I am re­ally lucky to have known him.”

Hall also leaves us with some sage ad­vice. He says, “Learn to pace your­self so you don’t burn out. En­joy down time when you can. Get home be­fore your kids go to sleep.”

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