Home   >   Movie Stars   >   S   >   Henry Selick

Henry Selick

Henry Selick continues to be one of the most imaginative and innovative directors working in the industry today, always charting new territory ftr the art of animation and fantasy filmmaking. The director made his feature debut in 1993 with the stop-motion classic The Nightmare Before Christmas for producer Tim Burton. Besides an Academy Award nomination for Best Special Effects, Nightmare earned Selick an Annie Award from A.S.I.F.A. Hollywood for best individual directing achievement, beating out The Lion King. Selick followed this three-year-plus production with a live-action and animation combo of Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach released in 1996. Richard Schickel of Time magazine described the film as even better than Dahl's classic book. Peach won the top prize for best feature at the Annecy International Animation Festival in 1997.

Born in Glenridge. New Jersey and raised in nearby Rumson, Selick did little but draw from ages three to 12, working for a time under Life and National Geographic illustrator Stanley Meltzoff. Ray Harryhausen's classic The Seven Voyages of Sinhad, with its stop- motion monsters, had a huge impact on the boy when he first saw it at age five. Another early influence on his artistic style was Lotte Reiniger's 1926 feature The Adventures of Prince Achmed, created in cutout animation and, in Selick's youth, aired in bits on a local children's TV program.

After studying at Rutgers University, Syracuse University, and St. Martin's School of Art in London, Selick eventually enrolled at CalArts as part of the first character animation program along with John Lassiter, John Musker and Brad Bird. He simultaneously studied experimental animation with Jules Engel and made two award-winning student films: Phases, a runner-up in the Student Academy Awards and Tube Tales, also nominated for a Student Academy Award.

Selick, dreaming of independent short films, graduated from CalArts and wound up as an animation trainee at Disney under Eric Larson, becoming a full animator on The Fox and the Hound under lead animator Glen Keane. While at Disney, Selick met and befriended Tim Burton and Rick Heinrichs, two very talented artists who were to be a big part of his future. Still at Disney, Selick took eight months off to work on his original short film Seepage, a multi prize-winning animated picture sponsored by the American Film Institute.

An opportunity to serve as a sequence director on the cutout animation feature Twice Upon a Tune led Selick to Northern California in the fall of 1981. He stayed in the Bay area where he next worked as a storyboard artist and designer for Walter Murch's Return to Oz.

This was followed by a stint on Carroll Ballard's Nutcracker, The Motion Picture, for which Selick drew storyboards, shot second unit, and created effects.

In 1986 he started his own production company, Selick Projects (renamed Twitching Images, Inc. in 1994), and soon began producing a series of memorable station ID's and top of-the-hour segments for MTV. Selick wrote, produced, designed and directed some of the most inventive and outrageous spots for the cable channel, including the Clio Award-winning Haircut M campaign that featured a stop-motion creature carving the MTV logo in a red Eraserhead-type hairdo. Around the same time, Selick was hired by San Francisco-based Colossal Pictures to breathe new life into the Pillsbury Doughboy commercials. Selick also helmed the award-winning Ritz Bits commercials in which a cast of hundreds of crackers were seen skiing down mountains of peanut butter and scooping cheese from the moon.

In 1990, Selick undertook an ambitious project called Slow Bob in the Lower Dimensions, sponsored by MTV. Combining a live-action central character with stop-motion and cut-out animation, the six-minute film received much attention and finished first place at the Ottowa Animation Festival and second at the Chicago Animation Festival. And, most importantly, Slow Bob led to Selick's reunion with Burton and Heinriebs and his role as director of the first full-length stop-motion feature film from a major studio, The Nightmare Before Christmas. Selick will next write a film adaptation of Neil Gaiman's book Coraline, about a young woman and her opposite world.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2002.

Henry Selick Facts

OccupationDirector, Producer

Selected Filmography

Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas
James and the Giant Peach
The Ultimate Laika Collection
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Three Film Laika Collection
Tim Burton 3D Movie Collection
Continue » Find more details on the Henry Selick Movies page