How did you become an animator and director?
Visual arts runs in my family from my Dad being a goldsmith to my grandparents being architects and illustrators so a big part of me thinks that it was written in the cards. My parents say that I would come home from school and before I could have a snack, or tell them how my day went, I had to go up to my room and draw a picture of something that was stuck in my brain that needed to come out. I had always said “I am going to be an artist” growing up. I remember seeing the movie Beauty and the Beast, and that is the moment that I really felt like animation was where I wanted to go in my career. I would spend hours trying to recreate the Candlestick!!!
I earned my BFA Honours before heading to Vancouver to get my Animation degree. From there I worked my way up in all areas of animation, including storyboarding, design, rigging, animation, and animation directing before becoming director, which I love more than anything-mostly because you get to touch all stages of the creative process.
What was your favorite TV show when you were growing up?
I only had one channel growing up so that really dictated what I was watching! When I was very little I was one of (what I think) the lucky kids and had kindergarten in the afternoon, which meant I could watch Sesame Street and Mr. Dressup (Canada’s version of Mister Rogers) before school. When I got a little older, my go-to shows were The Smurfs, He-Man, Degrassi, The Raccoons, and sometimes I could get a very fuzzy version of Wonder Woman if the weather was good!
What is your favorite episode of Through The Woods?
How am I supposed to pick??? I love so much about Through the Woods -- if you hit pause at any given moment in any episode I will love it. It looks like a storybook come to life! Marie [Thorhauge] did such an excellent job coming up with the look of the show. I will forever be “Team Wolfie.” I think my favorite episode is “A Snowy Morning,” followed closely by “Fairies & Fireflies.” In “Snowy Morning,” I can just feel the cold. I love the absolute silence of winter when the world is covered in snow, only being interrupted by the crunching snow under your feet or the sound of a bird in the distance, and I thought Rider running through the woods captured that perfectly. I see deer often on my drive into the studio and am reminded every time about this episode. The colors in “Fairies & Fireflies” are brilliant. I love being outside when the sun is setting and have seen many fireflies with their “lights coming out of their bottom.” (giggle)
How has making the show changed the way you engage with nature and the outdoors?
I was lucky enough to have been raised in a small village surrounded by the woods. Most of my childhood was spent on what was called “The Nature Trail,” which was trails through the woods surrounded by a large creek. I definitely drew on this particular area of Midhurst for reference during this season. Rider and I would have for sure explored this area together.
I spent a lot of time camping and exploring the outdoors growing up and worked in a Provincial park in high school and university, which continued to hone my love of nature. I still think of Algonquin Park as a second home and to this day spend several weekends every summer canoeing though the lakes.
Since “Through the Woods,” I do find myself examining more nature, and when I see an animal outside, I wonder how Rider and Wolfie would engage with them. I am confident that that Wolfie would manage to avoid a skunk, but would still think it was pretty cool. I don’t think that Ellen (Doherty, the creator and executive producer) gets bored of me texting her lines from the show when I see any animal that Rider has visited in the show!
‘Peg +Cat LIVE!: The Big Dog Problem’ Hits the Road in 2019!
November 9, 2018
‘PEG + CAT LIVE!: THE BIG DOG PROBLEM,’ FIRST TOURING PRODUCTION BASED ON FRED ROGERS PRODUCTIONS’ EMMY-WINNING PBS KIDS SERIES, HITS THE ROAD IN 2019!
Meet Our Neighbors: J. Walter Hawkes, Composer for Peg + Cat
January 29, 2019
Just in time for the national tour of Peg + Cat Live!, meet J. Walter Hawkes, the Emmy-winning composer for Peg + Cat, one of our animated series on PBS KIDS.