Growing up in Farmington you might not be sure of where you are going to end up but the odds are you won’t end up staying there. David Derrick spent two years on his mission before he ended up at the University of Utah as a student of the Fine Arts program. There he studied under the respected instructor Paul Davis. His dream of being a gallery artist quickly changed one day when he went to the movies.
“It was then that I had my eureka moment,” Derrick remembers. After seeing Disney’s Tarzan, Derrick knew he wanted to be in the animation world. Transferring to California Institute of the Arts, he began his journey; he even won a student Emmy for one of his animated films, Cretaceous Christmas. It wasn’t two weeks into one of his classes that he had another rude awakening. “My professor had said that hand drawn animation was dead,” he said. Disney had just laid off 90 percent of its animators.
Still talented and ambitious Derrick pursued his new-found passion and broke through the tough barrier of DreamWorks Animation’s talent recruiting.
“DreamWorks was always interested in being a destination school,” Derrick said.
Meaning you’d go out into the world, gain professional experience, after establishing yourself you could attempt to make it into the company. Luckily one year DreamWorks decided to attempt a one-year training program.
“Accepting 4 trainees they see if they could keep up,” Derrick said.
He landed a position and it lead to him working as a storyboard artist for the company.
Since then, he has been an important part of the pre-production process on four of DreamWorks’ films, Flushed Away, Bee Movie, How to Train Your Dragon, and Megamind. His passion really lays in the storytelling aspects of animation, and storyboarding is the conceptual visualization and manifestation of any story. In comparing to solving a Rubix Cube, Derrick said, “You see what aspects work together, go back, make more changes until you have a fairly completed sequence.” Working on Megamind was a “wild ride”, having changed directors 3 times before landing Tom McGrath to helm the ambitious film. Derrick spent over two years on this film.
Now based out of Valencia, California, Derrick has showed that ambition and talent can pull anyone anywhere they may want to end up. Next up for Derrick is storyboard work on The Guardians of Childhood, DreamWorks’ next imaginative computer generated film based off the ideas of children writer William Joyce. Derrick also teaches an animal life drawing class at the DreamWorks’ Animation headquarters, that and his many other artistic avenues keep him busy as well as very satisfied.