Hillenburg in 2010
|Born||Stephen McDannell Hillenburg
August 21, 1961
Lawton, Oklahoma, U.S.
|Other names||Steve Hillenburg|
|Alma mater||Humboldt State University|
|Occupation||Marine biologist, animator, television director, television producer, writer|
|Known for||Rocko's Modern Life,
The Intertidal Zone
Stephen McDannell Hillenburg (born August 21, 1961) is an American marine biologist, marine scientist, animator, writer, producer, actor, voice actor, and director best known for creating the animated series SpongeBob SquarePants. He currently owns his own production company, United Plankton Pictures and has also written for Mother Goose and Grimm and Rocko's Modern Life.
Early life and education
After graduating from Savanna High School in Anaheim, California, Hillenburg enrolled in Humboldt State University and graduated in 1984 with a degree in natural-resource planning and interpretation, with an emphasis in marine resources.
Hillenburg was a marine biology teacher at what is now the Orange County Ocean Institute. He worked as a marine biologist from 1984–1987. In 1987 Hillenburg decided to pursue a career in animation, his second lifelong passion. He made several short films, two of which were awarded and played in animation film festivals internationally. His two short films The Green Beret (1991) (which was featured in an episode of "Liquid Television"; MTV misspelled his name "Hillenberg" in the credits) and Wormholes (1992) became popular shorts in several film festivals — and received various awards.
While still attending animation school, Hillenburg received a job on the children's TV series Mother Goose & Grimm from 1991 to 1993. When attending the California Institute of the Arts he made his thesis film called 'Wormholes' (which was funded by the Princess Grace Foundation). Hillenburg displayed his films at various animation festivals. Joe Murray, creator of Rocko's Modern Life, met Hillenburg at an animation festival and asked Hillenburg if he would be a director on the show, to which he agreed. Hillenburg joined the Nickelodeon animated series as a writer, producer, and storyboard artist. While working on Rocko's Modern Life, Hillenburg became friends with Tom Kenny, who would later become the voice of SpongeBob, and future SpongeBob collaborators Mr. Lawrence, Martin Olson, Paul Tibbitt and others.
In 1989, at the California Institute of the Arts, Hillenburg wrote a comic book called "The Intertidal Zone" about sea creatures in tidepools. The comic was "hosted" by a sponge, which Hillenburg initially drew as a natural sponge but changed to a square sponge because he thought it looked funnier. He showed it to Martin Olson, a friend and comedy writer working on Rocko's Modern Life. Olson loved it and suggested that Hillenburg rewrite it as an undersea cartoon series. When Rocko's Modern Life ended in 1996, Hillenburg began developing the concept, and in 1995 teamed with some of his former "Rocko" colleagues to design the show's backgrounds and characters.
In 1996, Hillenburg pitched the show to Nickelodeon, using an aquarium, character models, a theme song and the storyboard that would become the pilot episode "Help Wanted". To voice the main character of SpongeBob, Hillenburg approached Tom Kenny, who had worked with him on Rocko's Modern Life. Originally, SpongeBob was to be named SpongeBoy, but after voice acting for the original seven minute pilot was recorded in 1997, the Nickelodeon legal department discovered that the name was already in use for a mop product. Upon finding this out, Hillenburg decided to use the name "SpongeBob", as he believed the character's given name still had to contain "Sponge" so that viewers would not mistake him for a "Cheese Man". Hillenburg chose "SquarePants" as a family name as it referred to the character's square shape and "had a nice ring to it".
The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie was released in the U.S. on November 19, 2004. It received generally good reviews from critics and successfully grossed over $140 million worldwide. The film was intended to be the series finale, and creator Hillenburg announced that he would resign as showrunner and gave the post to Paul Tibbitt. However, in 2005, it was announced that SpongeBob would be continuing with a fourth season due in May. Hillenburg was rumoured to have left the series; however, he did not actually leave the show but still serves as an executive producer.
|1991||The Green Beret||Director
|2004||The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie||Director
|2015||SpongeBob SquarePants 2||Executive producer|
|1991||Mother Goose and Grimm||Writer|
|1993–1996||Rocko's Modern Life||Writer
Creative Director (1995-1996)
|Potty the Parrot (2000-2004; voice)|
|2008||The Mighty B!||Special thanks||Episode 1.01: So Happy Together/Sweet Sixteenth|
|2009||Square Roots: The Story of SpongeBob SquarePants||Himself||Documentary (bonus feature)|
|2012||Really Freaking Embarrassing||Invaluable Assistant||Web series|
- Banks, Steven (September 24, 2004). SpongeBob Exposed! The Insider's Guide to SpongeBob SquarePants. Schigiel, Gregg (Illustrator). Simon Spotlight/Nickelodeon. ISBN 978-0-689-86870-2.
- Neuwirth, Allan (2003). Makin' Toons: Inside the Most Popular Animated TV Shows and Movies. Allworth Communications, Inc. pp. 50, 252–253. ISBN 1-58115-269-8.
- "People Search: Hillenburg, Stephen". Veromi. 2010-04-05. Retrieved 2010-04-05.
- "Cover Biography - Stephen Hillenburg". Retrieved 2007-11-12.
- "Nickelodeon Taps Patrick Creadon and Christine O'Malley to Produce First-Ever SpongeBob SquarePants Documentary". Press Release (Viacom). Jan. 19 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-01.
- Makin' Toons: Inside the Most Popular Animated TV Shows and Movies. 50
- Wasserman Foundation Interview
- Orlando, Dana (March 17, 2003). "SpongeBob: the excitable, absorbent star of Bikini Bottom". St Petersburg Times. Retrieved November 8, 2008.
- Banks, p. 31
- Farhat, Basima (Interviewer) (December 5, 2006). Tom Kenny: Voice of SpongeBob SquarePants – Interview (mp3) (Radio production). The People Speak Radio. Retrieved November 8, 2008.
- Neuwirth, p. 51
- Access Hollywood Staff (2009-07-13). "Nickelodeon's "SpongeBob SquarePants" Reaches A Milestone: 10 Years". NBC Chicago. Retrieved 2009-11-05.
- Stephen Hillenburg - Voice Actor Profile at Voice Chasers
- Stephen Hillenburg at the Internet Movie Database
- Stephen Hillenburg at the Notable Names Database
- Stephen Hillenburg at SpongeBuddy Mania