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Hollywood Jobs: Animated feature directors

Dreamworks Animation

The Croods family

Leo Duran

Chris Sanders (L) and Kirk DiMicco, co-directors and co-writers of, "The Croods."

Leo Duran

A series of storyboards used by DiMicco and Sanders helped them both develop the narrative and visuals of "The Croods" during production.

Leo Duran

A lifelike model of the character Eep from "The Croods."

Leo Duran

In the early stages of the movie, this early diorama of the Croods' "cave village" was used to help conceptualize their world. Eventually the idea of a village was scrapped in favor of the Croods living as the last cave family alive.

Leo Duran

This pencil drawing was one of the first conceptual images of what the Croods might look like.


This is one in a series on Hollywood Jobs — not acting or directing, but rather the tasks you haven't heard of. You can read other segments in this series at the links below the story.

"The Croods" is the story of a prehistoric family, led by a father named Grug, voiced by Nicolas Cage. When they're forced to leave the cave they call home, they head out into the great unknown — something which terrifies Grug, but excites his eldest daughter Eep, played by Emma Stone. 

As part of our series Hollywood Jobs, we had the chance to visit the Dreamworks campus for a chat with the creators of, "The Croods," Kirk DeMicco and Chris Sanders, who both wrote and directed the film. 

Interview Highlights:

On how directing an animated film differs from a live action film:
Kirk DeMicco: "Our main task…is to come in and make sure the story is on track. A lot of times we're just running from department to department letting people know where the story is, where it's going, what we need for it. But if you picture live action set, imagine some guys, they're out in the middle of the prairie, somewhere in the West. You got John Wayne on a horse, you got the cameraman, you got lighting guys, you got the guys that are going to be pushing the dollies, imagine taking all those groups of people and just separate them. And that's how we do it."

On how they come up with ideas for stories:
Chris Sanders: "We knew from the very beginning, this is planet Earth. It's a fictitious time in planet Earth's past, so we want to break lose in having the expected saber-toothed tiger, mammoth and at one point one of our developing artists did a drawing of a creature that was actually a combination of two different animals put together. We both thought, 'Hey, that's it.' Our theory will be the farther you go back in time, the more you're going to find the animals we know today were actually combined.

"That said, when you look at the natural world we thought, 'OK, we're going to need a few flying creatures, we're going to need some things that swim, we're going to need some predators, we're going to need some creatures that are a little bit more like prey animals.' We had a fish cat, which was a huge underwater creature that we really were very fond of this thing. He was in there until the last second and then we had too much stuff already, we just had to cut him. So maybe the second movie we'll see."

Where do you see this world of animation headed?
Chris Sanders: "The biggest change for animation that's on the horizon is the types of stories you're going to tell. I think animation in the United States is going to broaden. More sci-fi kind of stuff for an older audience, certainly things for families is going to be a main stay. I think technically things are going to get a little bit easier.

"So more and more things are going to become more doable. Maybe a little bit more cost effective. Water is extremely expensive. If we had a whole scene where people were racing in the water, we would have blown the budget. We just can't do it. There are things that are just prohibited. That kind of stuff is going to change, but I think again, it's going to be the types of things we make films about. More stories. That's what we have to get into."

Check out the other entries in the Odd Hollywood Jobs series:


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