Below is the background information sent from the publishers in setting up the interview with Steve Hickner. We’ll add to that by saying that the vast majority of the rules here are useful in many business situations, going well beyond animation.
If you listen to our interview by clicking on the grey podcast bar below, you’ll find Steve to be a friendly, genuine and genuinely funny person, who happens to be a talented animation professional.
He’s currently working at Dreamworks, which allowed me to drop into every conversation that week the fact that I had an important interview with “an insider at Dreamworks.” Even better, we had to postpone our first interview time because Steve had a meeting with the “S” in “SKG Dreamworks,” Steven Spielberg. Seriously cool, as is our interview below:
Steve Hickner’s Animation Rules! lays out 52 rules for everyone who works in animation and other creative pursuits.
The rules offer succinct career advice for anyone working in a creative field. Some rules are counter-intuitive: “Open strong. Close stronger” (Rule 17) recommends putting the second-best piece of work first in a portfolio, and the best piece last. Others give insights that only a longtime professional would know: “Every studio is two flops from disaster” (Rule 38).
Hickner has illustrated each rule with a drawing featuring Rulio, the fictitious animator who does not follow the rules. “Immerse yourself in inspiration” (Rule 29), shows a colleague whose work is inspired by great movies, while Rulio dreams about cupcakes.
At DreamWorks Animation, Hickner directed the films The Prince of Egypt and Jerry Seinfeld’s Bee Movie. At Stephen Spielberg’s Amblimation studio, Hickner produced the films An American Tail: Fievel Goes West and Balto. He has also worked at Walt Disney Animation Studios and has been a storyboard artist for Peabody and Sherman, Shrek Forever After, Over the Hedge, Madagascar, Shark Tale, and Antz. He frequently lectures at universities. His first book, Animating Your Career, was published in 2013.