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The Boxtrolls

Sheridan Animation Alumni Get Oscar Nods

January 15, 2015

Three of the five films nominated for Oscars in the Best Animated Feature category were directed by animators who studied at Sheridan. Among the films nominated is How to Train Your Dragon 2, written and directed by Dean DeBlois; The Boxtrolls, directed by Graham Annable; and Big Hero 6, directed by Chris Williams. Many other Sheridan graduates also contributed their talent to the three animated features.

The Oscars will be presented at a ceremony on February 22 in Hollywood, California.

A 1990 graduate of Sheridan’s renowned animation program, DeBlois was also the executive producer of How to Train Your Dragon 2 for DreamWorks Animation. The 3D fantasy action film is the second in the trilogy which follows the adventures of a young viking hero and his dragon. How to Train Your Dragon 2 received a Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature on January 11, 2015.

Annable graduated from Sheridan’s classical animation program in 1991, and worked at LucasArts as an animator for 10 years.  He went on to work as creative director at Telltale Games before joining LAIKA as a storyboard artist in 2006.  He made his directorial debut with The Boxtrolls, which he directed with Anthony Stacchi.

Williams earned a bachelor of fine arts degree at the University of Waterloo before enrolling in Sheridan's animation program. Before completing the full program he was hired to work at Disney when the studio's recruiters visited Sheridan. However, Williams credits Sheridan with launching him on his animation career. "My respect and love for animation took root at Sheridan. It was an amazing learning experience," he said.  While at Disney, Williams has contributed to such films as Mulan, The Emperor's New Groove, and Chicken Little.

This marks the second Oscar nomination in the Best Animated Feature category for both Williams and DeBlois. In 2011, DeBlois was nominated for How to Train Your Dragon, which he co-wrote and co-directed with Chris Sanders. Williams received a nomination for Bolt in 2009.

“Sheridan is exceptionally proud of its strong role in educating and nurturing some of the finest animators in the world,” said Jeff Zabudsky, President & CEO of Sheridan. “To have Sheridan-trained animators behind three of the five nominated films in this category is truly a cause for celebration.”

It is the first time that three former students have been nominated since Sheridan started teaching animation in 1971. To date, several animators who studied at Sheridan have received Oscar nominations. In addition to DeBlois, Annable and Williams, past nominees include Steve Williams, James Straus, Michael Thurmeier and winners include Jon Minnis and Eric Armstrong (Best Animated Short Film – 1986 and 2003, respectively). In 2005, Sheridan Advanced Television & Film alumnus, Erin Faith Young, also received an Oscar nomination for Best Short Documentary. In 2014, animation graduates Tibor Madjar and Colin Doncaster won Academy Awards for Scientific and Technical Achievement.

Sheridan has planned a series of events and activities to celebrate the 2015 nominations, culminating in an Oscar night party on February 22. Festivities begin on Friday, January 16 with screenings of How to Train Your Dragon and How to Train Your Dragon 2 at the Trafalgar Campus in Oakville starting at 6:30pm. Contact the Alumni Office for details at 905-815-4078.

Sheridan is world-renowned for its animation programs, which attract students from around the world to the Trafalgar Road Campus in Oakville, Ontario. In addition to a four-year degree in animation which blends traditional and contemporary approaches to the discipline, Sheridan also offers one-year graduate certificate programs in computer animation, computer animation - digital visual effects and digital character animation.

Pictured above: A still from LAIKA's stop-motion animated feature The Boxtrolls, directed by Graham Annable.