What is your name and current occupation?
My name is Tyree Dillihay and I’m an assistant director on season 2 of Bob’s Burgers. I have two series coming out that I worked on as a Director premiering on Fox and MTV the same week. Good Vibes premieres on MTV, Thursday October 27th after the return of BEAVIS & BUTTHEAD and Allen Gregory, which was created by Jonah Hill premieres on FOX October 30th at 8:30. I directed two episodes on each of these shows.
What are some of the crazier jobs you had before getting into animation?
Fortunately, I’ve only had 2 9-5s before getting into animation and they weren’t bad at all. My first one was doing customer service for a skin care company. My second job, which was my reason for leaving the skin care company, was helping my mother start and run what became our family business of setting up facilities that service developmentally disabled people.
What are some of your favorite projects you’re proud to have been a part of?
My favorites so far have been the projects where I was given creative autonomy. And ironically, those were not only fulfilling for me, but were huge successes for those that hired me. Projects like “Read A Book” and “Disrespectoids” were very fun projects to work on. “Disrespectoids” is probably my favorite because myself and a writer, Dan Clark, scripted out the cartoons the OLD way…VISUALLY. We literally sat in a room and had jam sessions with 10 characters to play with and just played “What if…?” for about 2 weeks on a dry erase board before animation started.
How did you become interested in animation?
Early in life I wanted to become an illustrator but I couldn’t afford to go to Art Center. Nor was I willing to incur that debt. And I didn’t feel you could make enough money as an illustrator to sustain the type of lifestyle that I wanted to lead. So, I set myself on a path to become a lawyer actually. I was getting my undergrad in English when I took some animation electives and that’s when I kind of fell back in love with art.
Where are you from and how did you get into the animation business?
I’m from Inglewood, CA – home of the Great Western Forum where the Los Angeles Lakers won championships during the Kareem & Magic era. Most people in my neighborhood either wanted to be athletes or hustlers or premature fathers. I got into animation 3 months after college. I did an animated film called “HIPHOPOLIS” in my last semester at Cal State University Northridge that won Best of Show that year and made history as the first animated piece to EVER win best of show in the entire school’s history. I also sent the film to an internet content distributor by the name of ATOM FILMS. A guy named, Peter Ignacio saw my film, liked it and said he wanted to put it on the site. So, after that, I sent out a big email blast to all my friends and anybody else who would read the email. A good friend of mine, Kamau Talbot, forwarded my film over to some friends of his at a production company who alongside Jaleel White from “Family Matters” fame were in development on a show with Disney TV. At the time they were having trouble finding a style that Jaleel liked. But that was until an executive assistant by the name of Tizzie got the email about my film from my friend, and showed it to Jaleel. Then, they forwarded that info to then production manager, Stevan Levy over at Disney TV and that started my 2 year run as a development artist for WDTVA right out of college.
What’s a typical day like for you with regards to your job?
NOTES NOTES NOTES. lol. Whether I’m directing or storyboarding or designing…the day is pretty much the same. Make the execs happy by meeting their needs. Find out what the priorities are for the day/week and make cartoon magic on a daily basis.
What part of your job do you like best? Why?
I like seeing what I “intended” on the screen. I like knowing that others share that vision. But, above all, I LOVE the fact that I get paid to do what I’ve been doing since a kid. It’s really a dream come true.
What part of your job do you like least? Why?
We have a saying in this business: DIFFERENT is not BETTER. That’s all I’m going to say on the grounds that I might incriminate myself and possibly not work again in this business 🙂
What is the most difficult part for you about being in the business?
refer to the last answer.
What kind of technology do you work with on a daily basis?
Storyboard Pro, Photoshop, Flash in that order.
In your travels, have you had any brushes with animation greatness?
I’ve met a lot of pioneering black animators & directors. Ron Myrick, Bruce Smith, Anthony Bell, Phil Mendez, Marlon West, Lenord Robinson etc. They’ve all given me their blessing and I look forward to the day when I’m ripe in age and can pass some of what I know to up & coming black talent.
Describe a tough situation you had in life.
Adolescence. My teenage years of growing up fatherless were kind of tough. I basically taught myself how to be a man. My mother could only get me so far before my teenage years, but when those years hit, we were like strangers. We got through it though and we made it… I made it 🙂
Any side projects you’re working on you’d like to share details of?
anybody that knows me knows that I am an avid sneakerhead so a year ago I actually created the first comic for sneakerheads called “SN’EADS” (which is sneaker + heads = SN’EADS). It’s pretty much online based, but I’ve garnered a nice following and my work is appreciated and respected in the sneaker community. Google SN’EADS by R E E and enjoy.
Is there any advice you can give for an aspiring animation student or artist trying to break into the business?
Learn how to draw constructively and understand shape language so you’ll be able to adapt to any production. Always strive to get better and keep learning. Look at the good stuff and the bad stuff. Understand why they’re working or not working. But above all, know your value as an artist. Do not cheapen yourself or your talent. God lives in your hands.