Henry Selick Biography

Henry Selick photo

Born: November 30, 1952


Date of Birth: November 30, 1952

Born in Glenridge, New Jersey and raised in nearby Rumson, Henry Selick began drawing by age three and attracted lots of attention with his early efforts. His sketches of heroes, lions and eagles brought so much attention that by the fifth grade, he decided to give up art and avoid the spotlight.

Aside from the typical Disney classics, an early influence on his artistic style was the 1926 German silent animated film by Lotte Reiniger, The Adventure of Prince Achmed. Stop-motion wizard Ray Harryhausen also had an impact on the family impressionable youth, who began having nightmares about a cyclops growing in the family fish tank after seeing The Seven Voyages of Sinbad.

In high school, Selick turned his creative energies towards music and became a member of a rock n' roll band. By the age of 20, his interest in art and especially animation was re-ignited by a PBS program featuring experimental films. After studying science for a year at Rutgers University, he switched to an art as his major at Syracuse University.

To pursue his career goals in animation, Selick eventually enrolled at CalArts, where he became part of the first group to go through the Disney character animation program. During that time, he also studied experimental animation techniques with Jules Engel and made two award-winning student films - Phases and Tube Tales.

Graduating from CasArts in 1977, Selick at Disney worked as an in-betweener and animator trainee on such films as Pete's Dragon and The Small One. He became a full animator on The Fox and the Hound and worked on the two title characters. The studio then enlisted him to help create the alien creature in Disney's The Watcher in the Woods.

In 1979, Selick took eight months off to work on his own personal project - a nine minute stop-motion and cel animated Seepage. The film won numerous awards, but Selick returned to Disney to work on visual development for a variety of projects.

In 1986, the filmmaker started his own production company, Selick Projects (now Twitching Images), and soon began producing a series of memorable station ID's and top of the hour segments for MTV. He also worked on commercials for Pillsbury and Ritz Bits.

In 1990, Selick undertook an ambitious film project called Slow Bob in the Lower Dimension. The film combined live action, stop animation and cut-out animation attracted a lot off attention and led Selick to direct the full-length stop-motion film, The Nightmare Before Christmas. Years later, his skills and direction was called upon to complete James and the Giant Peach (1996) and Monkeybone (2000).

Selick and his wife Heather live in Tiburon, California with their son.

Filmography (director):

Coraline (2009)
Monkeybone (2000)
James and the Giant Peach (1996)
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Seepage (1981)
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