Eric Darnell

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Eric Darnell
Born 1961 (age 56–57)
Prairie Village, Kansas
Occupation Animator, film director, writer
Years active 1989–present
Notable work Antz,
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa,
Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted
Spouse(s) Laura[1]

Eric Darnell (born 1961)[2] is an American animator, director, writer, songwriter and occasional voice actor best known for co-directing Antz with Tim Johnson, as well as co-directing and co-writing Madagascar, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa and Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted with Tom McGrath.

Life and career[edit]

Darnell was born in Prairie Village, Kansas.[1] He attended Shawnee Mission East High School in Prairie Village, Kansas, where he was a writer for the school newspaper the Harbinger. He studied broadcast journalism at the University of Colorado at Boulder.[1] After graduating in 1983, he spent four years working on experimental films in his basement, which helped him get accepted into the Experimental Animation program study at the California Institute of the Arts.[1] Meanwhile, he directed the music video for the 1989 R.E.M. song "Get Up".[1]

After graduating in 1991, Darnell joined Pacific Data Images,[1] where he worked as a character animator on the 1991 Hanna-Barbera Halloween special The Last Halloween. He also animated and directed the short film Gas Planet, which won Ottawa International Animation Festival Special Jury Prize.[1] In 1995, he left PDI to join DreamWorks and work on research and development for The Prince of Egypt.[1] In 1996, when DreamWorks merged with PDI, he was assigned to direct his first feature film Antz.[1] The film, released in 1998, marked the studio's first computer-animated feature film, and the second computer-animated feature film ever.[1] He then worked as story artist on the 2001 film Shrek, for which he also wrote the song "Welcome to Duloc."[3]

Darnell and Tom McGrath directed Madagascar in 2005 and its sequel, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa in 2008. He was co-writer for the Christmas TV special, Merry Madagascar. Darnell also co-directed Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted with McGrath and Conrad Vernon, which was released on June 8, 2012. He co-directed, with Simon J. Smith, a Madagascar spin-off, titled Penguins of Madagascar and released on November 26, 2014.[4]

In 2015, Darnell co-founded with Maureen Fan, a former vice president of games at Zynga, a Redwood City, California-based virtual reality studio Baobab Studios to create animated virtual reality short films.[5] Darnell serves as Baobaob's chief creative officer, while Fan serves as its CEO. For the studio, Darnell wrote and directed short VR films, Invasion! (2016) and its follow-up Asteroids! (2017), featuring two comedic aliens, Mac and Cheeze.[6][7][8] Plans for a feature-length film based on the characters were announced in 2016 by Baobab and Roth Kirschenbaum Films.[9] Darnell also directed the first episode of an animated VR series Rainbow Crow, inspired by the Lenape myth. Released in 2017, it features the voices of Diego Luna, Constance Wu and John Legend as the titular character.[10][11]

Personal life[edit]

Darnell lives in Campbell, California with his wife, Laura, and their son, Rex, and daughter, Leah.[1][12]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Berls, Scott (Spring 1999). "Little-creature feature". University of Colorado Boulder. Archived from the original on May 18, 2003. Retrieved November 24, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Darnell, Eric, 1961-". Library of Congress. Retrieved October 27, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Shrek". American Film Institute. Retrieved December 19, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Sneider, Jeff (August 5, 2013). "Benedict Cumberbatch, John Malkovich Join 'Penguins of Madagascar' (Exclusive)". The Wrap. Retrieved January 19, 2014. 
  5. ^ Giardina, Carolyn (December 3, 2015). "'Madagascar' Director Eric Darnell's Virtual Reality Studio Raises $6M". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 29, 2017. 
  6. ^ a b Giardina, Carolyn (April 15, 2016). "Tribeca: 'Madagascar' Director Unveils Virtual Reality Short 'Invasion!'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 29, 2017. 
  7. ^ a b Wolfe, Jennifer (December 1, 2016). "Baobab's 'ASTEROIDS!' to Debut at Sundance 2017". Animation World Network. Retrieved May 29, 2017. 
  8. ^ Giardina, Carolyn (December 22, 2016). "Elizabeth Banks to Voice an Alien in Virtual Reality Short 'Asteroids!'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 29, 2017. 
  9. ^ Giardina, Carolyn (September 26, 2016). "Director Eric Darnell's Virtual Reality Short 'Invasion' to Become Theatrical Feature". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 29, 2017. 
  10. ^ Hipes, Patrick (April 19, 2017). "Diego Luna & Constance Wu Join Animated VR Series 'Rainbow Crow'". Deadline. Retrieved May 29, 2017. 
  11. ^ a b GIardina, Carolyn (April 11, 2017). "Tribeca: John Legend to Voice, Executive Produce Virtual Reality Animated Series". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 29, 2017. 
  12. ^ Peterson, Judy (May 28, 2012). "Take a trip to 'Madagascar,' and support YSI". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved November 23, 2013. 

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