Your first script produced for TV was an episode of Doug Unplugs and the teacher is named Mr. Gilmore. What’s the backstory there?
When I was given my first opportunity to write a script and I came up with an episode about school, I knew I had to come up with a teacher. Dr. Gilmore was one of my favorite teachers. I had him for my freshman English class his first year at Hutchison. I wanted to honor him, and Hutchison as a whole, in that simple and meaningful way.Beyond the writers, how many people are involved in creating a single episode of an animated program?
There are around 50 people on a crew for an animated show (though it depends): writers, storyboard artists, designers, and the production team. That does not even count all the people whom we work with outside of our core team— composers, casting, the overseas animation studios, etc. Working on children’s programming seems fun and carefree. Does it look a lot easier than it is?
Ha, yes and no. It is certainly a lot of fun. It’s an industry that attracts exuberant people, but it’s definitely not all fun and games, especially when it comes to preschool content. We have to make sure that we’re never modeling bad behavior for the kids and that we’re being somewhat educational as well. Parents are trusting our show to be a good influence on their kids and we have to deliver. Some shows are easier than others! Looking back, how did your Hutchison experience help you get where you are today?
I graduated right before the school started having more specific film and art classes, but even so, once the faculty knew what my goals were, they helped me achieve them in various ways. They had me pick a Pixar short film to screen every Monday for convocation during senior year and gave me mountains of encouragement to reach my goals. Hutchison played a big role in preparing me for a career in general, with its individualized college counseling sessions, resume-building workshops, and public speaking opportunities that all helped prepare me for a promising future in the working world.
The fact that Hutchison created dedicated film classes soon after I and some of my other film-inclined friends graduated is proof of how actively the school monitors students’ goals and adapts to create situations that let students explore non-traditional career paths and stoke their creativity. Katie Daniel ’14 has worked steadily as a production assistant, script coordinator, and freelance writer since graduating from Columbia College Chicago with a bachelor's degree in animation. She is currently at Bento Box Entertainment.