Donovan Cook

What is your name and your current occupation?
Director of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Walt Disney TV Animation

What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
I was Shamu at Sea World, (the guy in the costume)

 

What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
2 Stupid Dogs, Nightmare Ned,Mickey Donald Goofy The Three Musketeers.

How did you become interested in animation?
Always drew cartoons and comics as a young kid. In high school my mother ordered the
Disney Channel (back when it wasn’t basic cable but you had to pay extra to get it) and I saw classic Mickey Mouse cartoons and instantly I knew that is what I wanted to do.

Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I am from California, born in the Bay Area, graduated high school in San Diego. After high school I studied at CalArts. At the end of my second year, I had the good fortune of being invited to an internship at Walt Disney Feature Animation. That summer working on The Little Mermaid was my first job in the animation business.

What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
Typically every day is different depending on what stage of production we are in and which episode needs attention at the time. If we are focusing on pre-production, much of the day will be spent reviewing scripts, designs and storyboards or possibly recording dialogue. If we are focusing on animation production, much of the day will be spent reviewing rough camera layout and rough animation. If the focus is on post-production, then many hours of the day will be spent in editing cutting the final animation and calling retake notes to improve the quality of the show. Of course, often the day will be all mixed up with focus being needed on different episodes in all the various stages of production.

What part of your job do you like best? Why?
Collaborating with a talented team of artists. Nothing is more fun than working with the team to make the cartoon better at every stage of production.

What part of your job do you like least? Why?
Particularly in TV production, there just isn’t as much time as you would like to get the material to it’s highest level of quality.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
Obviously a lot of different software applications. In pre-production, we use Cintiq tablets and ToonBoom Storyboard Pro, Photoshop a lot. In editing we use Avid. Recently I’ve been using my iPad a lot to make notes and quickly share them with artists.
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
It is difficult in TV production to push yourself to continue to experiment and be constantly learning. Often the schedule will make you feel like there is only enough time to simply do what you know has worked in the past but that isn’t good enough and we all know it. So while it is difficult, it is of utmost importance that everyone on the team stays fresh and pushes their talent to the limit. If we don’t do this, the audience will most certainly get board and start looking elsewhere for entertainment.

In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
As a recent graduate from CalArts, I went to work at Disney Feature Animation, and a very good friend went north to work at Pixar – now this was before Toy Story. I used to visit my friend and the Pixar studio often in fact we spent one Easter Sunday at John Lasseter’s home with his family. And here’s the really cool part – John noticed that I liked to wear Converse Chuck Taylor high top shoes, like he did, and he gave me a pair of his shoes that he wore while accepting an oscar for a short film. I’d say that is a pretty close brush with animation greatness.

Describe a tough situation you had in life.
In “Animation life” the toughest situation I’ve faced was being fired from Directing a movie after spending almost a full year on it. That was heartbreaking.

 

Any side projects or you’re working on or hobbies you’d like to share details of?
A year ago, I finished production on a live action feature called, RIDESHARE. RIDESHARE is the world’s first full-lenght feature film shot entirely on the iPhone4. We are currently finalizing a distribution deal for the film and people should be able to see it very soon.

Any unusual talents or hobbies like tying a cherry stem with your tongue or metallurgy?
I can sleep anytime – anywhere.

Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Draw, draw, draw! Don’t stop making your own films even after you graduate from school. Be persistent – the only way to fail is to stop trying.


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3 Comments

  1. Donovan, I just love you cartoon 2 Stupid Dogs. I am one of your biggest fans to the cartoon. I know you claim it as one of your best works and it clearly shows. I watched it a lot when I was young and it too bad they rarely show it. I miss it. Anyway, do you mind if you put the show on DVD anytime soon? It is a classic that shouldn’t be forgotten. It is one of cartoon network’s first shows and I love it. I hope you put it out for DVD and you rock.

    • I am not yet in animation but I’m a huge fan of it and dream of being an animator.I love cartoons more than the air I breath. Any pointers if getting started. Also your show 2 Stupid Dogs is one of my inspiration for me to get working on animation. I sure hope you plain of putting it on DVD soon. Can’t wait for that day. Thanks for the questions. By the way. So far I did a simple animation of a running stick figure. That is a proud project so far. FYI, 2 Stupid Dogs is a great and hilarious cartoon and one of the best I ever seen. I wish its on DVD so we can watch it again. Any plains yet from Cartoon Network. They released some few retro cartoons from the 90s labeled, “CN hall of fame”. That is a great idea to get the company to release the discs.

  2. Hi Donovan Cook. I just want to know that I love your show 2 Stupid Dogs. It is Cartoon Network’s 25th anniversary this year. To celebrate can you make a DVD release of that show? That will be amazing because it is one of the first shows on Cartoon Network. I am a huge fan of the show and it will be perfect for the big animation event. Can’t wait to hear from you. Thanks, have a good day.

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