– . – Drawing on Experience
Drawing on Experience
A native of Chicago, Bill Damaschke is currently Co- President of Production for Feature Animation and President of Live Theatrical for DreamWorks, a company he joined at its inception.
Yet Damaschke didn’t start out at the business end of the company, as he explains to movieScope on the phone from Chicago, where he is overseeing preparations for the opening of the stage play, Shrek the Musical.
“I started as an actor a long time ago and studied music and theatre [at Wesleyan University, Illinois], but I always loved animation. After pursuing a career in acting, I realised what I really wanted to do was produce or direct. I called around to a bunch of the studio hotlines to see if they did job placements and I got a job as an assistant to a producer at Disney, on the movie Pocahontas. That was my entry into the workforce, about 17 years ago, and I worked at Disney for about a year. During that year, Jeffrey [Katzenberg] started DreamWorks. I applied for a job and I’ve been there ever since!”
Damaschke is adamant that he didn’t want to act again, but said he found the experience of acting useful as a producer. “I do think it comes in handy. The animators who work on our films are very much like actors, as are the storyboard artists. They don’t use their own body or their own instrument to convey the story or the emotion, but they think like actors. Because I have that background, it’s handy when I’m dealing with writers, directors and actors, and our animators in particular. I think I understand what their questions really are in order to do a great job.”
Damaschke has worked on some of DreamWorks’ most successful animated features, such as Kung Fu Panda, and was nominated for an Oscar for Shark Tales. Apart from a childhood love of cartoons, what does he see as the ongoing appeal of animation? “Certainly for the types of films DreamWorks makes, it is so amazing and surprising that it is so completely created; every frame is created, every single thing you see on the screen has been designed, and put there and thought about. In some ways I think that animated movies have more emotion and comedy, and the ability to charm and entertain, which is all from the thought, the creation and collaboration of the people who make the films.