×

‘How to Train Your Dragon’ Producer on Finding the Next Generation of Animators

Producer Bonnie Arnold counts “Toy Story” and “Dances With Wolves” among her credits, but she’s spent the last 13 years devoted to the “How to Train Your Dragon” trilogy.

Arnold said goodbye to Toothless the dragon and his friend Hiccup this past year in “How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.” As a woman in animation, she’s looking to champion the next generation of animators.

“I’m at the point in my career where it’s important to be bringing up the next generation of artists,” Arnold said.

Whether she’s at Dreamworks Animation or traveling, Arnold makes it her business to look at the global animation community.

“It’s so exciting to see more women and more international artists be doing what they’re doing,” she said.

She points to this year’s Oscar nominees for animated feature as a good example of global representation.

“We had 32 films eligible this year for Animated Feature,” she said. “‘Klaus’ was made in Spain and ‘I Lost My Body’ was made in France.”

She’s always on the lookout for up-and-coming artists. “I’d love to share things I’ve done with them,” she said. “If there are women in that mix, then I’m on the scout for that.” Arnold has noticed a rise in women artists in animation school. “It’s so obvious when you look at the schools, there are so many women in there and that’s really exciting.”

Popular on Variety

Now that the Dragon series has wrapped, Arnold is working on adapting another Cressida Cowell book. Like “How to Train Your Dragon,” it’s an original story.

“I loved the character of Hiccup, but I knew we’d seen dragons in animation before,” Arnold said. When she mentioned the story to others, the response was “No one cares about Vikings either.”

She credits DreamWorks CEO Jeffery Katzenberg for seeing the potential in the story of Hiccup and Toothless, and ultimately believing in Arnold. To her, the most important thing was staying true to the story’s core message. “We didn’t change the heart and soul of the characters,” she said.

More Artisans

  • Debbie Allen Gracie Awards

    Black History Month: Celebrating African American Choreographers and Dancers

    When you think of famous choreographers, one of the first people who probably comes to mind is Debbie Allen. Also a dancer, a director and an actress, she has done it all. Allen made her Broadway debut in “Purlie,” but gained recognition as Lydia Grant in both the TV and film versions of “Fame.” She [...]

  • The Call of the Wild

    'Call of the Wild' Composer on How Music Became Protagonist Dog's Voice

    Jack London’s “The Call of the Wild” ranks as one of the most famous books about a canine ever written. So director Chris Sanders knew that the composer of his film adaptation simply had to be a dog lover. Luckily, Sanders’ “How to Train Your Dragon” composer, John Powell, has two standard poodles. And when [...]

  • rest of us

    Aisling Chin-Yee on Her Directorial Feature Debut 'The Rest of Us'

    Aisling Chin-Yee had been working as a producer on documentaries and shorts for 15 years, telling stories that focused on women and marginalized groups, before taking the filmmaking reins herself. “That’s where my creative desires needed to be explored,” Chin-Yee said of her ambitions to write and direct more. Her big break behind the camera [...]

  • Shaun the sheep

    How '80s Sci-Fi Films Inspired 'Shaun the Sheep: Farmageddon'

    Shaun, everyone’s favorite sheep, is back, and this time he’s facing aliens and robots in “A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon.” Directors Will Becher and Richard Phelan teamed together on this film for their first full-length collaboration. While the two have been working at Aardman Studios, Phelan’s background was as a story artist and Becher’s [...]

  • Emma Movie 2020

    Opulence and Frugality Inform the Look of the Latest Take on Jane Austen's 'Emma'

    Jane Austen’s “Emma” is a world of elegance and refinement; its story centers on class distinction and the power of vanity, and how those cause tension between friends and lovers. The challenge for costumer Alexandra Byrne and production designer Kave Quinn to help director Autumn de Wilde deliver her vision of the classic, which hits [...]

  • Avenue 5 HBO

    How 'Avenue 5' Set Designer Used 3D Tech to Create Spaceship Locales

    Simon Bowles designed the massive set of the Judd spaceship on HBO’s “Avenue 5” with one central thought in mind: It doesn’t matter how beautiful an environment is when you realize you might be trapped in it forever. “I’ve designed these types of enclosed spaces before,” says the production designer, who collaborated with series creator [...]

  • Diane Warren poses for a portrait

    Dear Diane Warren: Here's How to Win a Best Original Song Oscar in 2021

    Dear Diane Warren, We’re sad. When you didn’t win the best original song Oscar on Sunday’s telecast, it was like we too had been handed our 11th rejection in a row. We’ve been on this journey with you, and gosh darn it, your time to be “Academy Award winner Diane Warren” is long overdue. In [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content