Job Description: Filmmaker
Breakthrough: In her feature debut, co-directed the year’s reigning b.o. champ, “Shrek”
In the works: Currently developing another CG-animated comedy for DreamWorks, which she is also slated to direct.
When Jeffrey Katzenberg asked her to co-direct “Shrek” more than three years ago, Vicky Jenson couldn’t have imagined the animated tale would be the top grossing picture of 2001 and a top contender for the first-ever Academy Award for best animated feature film.
“Shrek” was her first experience with computer animation, after two decades of moving up the ladder in traditional animation. Jenson began painting cels when she was 13, inspired and hired by a sister who had an animation studio. Her childhood dream of becoming a painter morphed into one of becoming a director before she joined DreamWorks five years ago as a production designer on “The Road to El Dorado.”
“On ‘Shrek’ we didn’t try to figure out how to make adolescents laugh. You have to use yourself as the best judge and use your own instincts. We figured if we laughed at it, chances are good someone else would too,” Jenson says.
Jenson’s instincts were right on, not surprising for someone who’s always gone for what has excited and challenged her the most. In this case, it was a green ogre that’s taken in piles and piles of green for DreamWorks, establishing the studio once and for all as a formidable competitor to historically dominant Disney.
Another directing gig on an animated feature comedy is next for Jenson. But she’s also dipping her toes into live action waters and planning to direct a short. “I’ve always found the pursuit of creativity is a big part of my life,” she says.