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Steve Hickner is the writer of the new book Animating Your Career, which is a guide to help creative people learn how to stay and progress in the animation industry. Hickner has a rich, 30-year career in animation working at a variety of studios such as Disney, Amblination, and DreamWorks. He’s known as the “pro’s pro” and has done nearly every job in animation. He is most notably known for co-directing The Prince of Egypt and Bee Movie.

This interview discusses his new book, his advice for creative professionals, as well as telling different anecdotes and lessons learned from his career.


• Steve discusses the two parts of his book: working in the animation industry and managing a team of creative people.

• He wouldn’t be anywhere today without the support of other people.

• Catch and Fire; the 3 fan letters he’s written to other studios.

• “The truest test of talent is longevity.”

• “A great leader never misses an opportunity to build others up.”

• Attitude, attitude, attitude! “You’ll know the guys who are going to make it because they are so passionate about it.”

• Expert tip: stop working right before you get to the best part.

• The cat and dog = goofus and gallant.

• Surround yourself with the best of the best.

• What are some myths about the animation industry?

• There are no unimportant scenes in a movie; every scene is a chance to do something great.

• Johnson Principle: Person is promoted to his level of unhappiness.

• What vision did he have for the Cats animated film?

• What was it like working with Richard Williams during Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

• Thoughts on traditional animation and the future of entertainment.

• Single most important thing of great leadership: “Put down the phone and listen.”

• What’s in the future for Steve?

• Working at DreamWorks since the beginning and high praise for Jeffrey Katzenberg.

• Bloopers: nerd discussion, kindred spirits with Chelsea.