I really enjoyed reconnecting with Sean. I knew him when he was young and have always marveled at his talent. Recently, my son was watching Futurama and was impressed when I told him I knew someone who worked on the show. He then asked what other films Sean worked on and was thrilled to learn that he had seen many of them. I look forward to watching Sean’s holiday special this winter and his future films with my family.
Not many people know their life’s calling at a young age, but Sean Sexton, who graduated from LHS in 1993, decided he wanted to be an animator when he was just 5 years old – a lofty goal he achieved just a year out of college.
“I watched a lot of Warner Bros and Disney cartoons when I was young and was fascinated by the animation,” says Sean. “I also loved to draw Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck way back then.”
Right now, Sean is Supervising Animator on The Croods 2. He was a supervising animator on How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, which hit theaters in 2019, and recently, he was the Head of Character Animation on a How to Train Your Dragon Holiday Special called Home Coming, which will air on NBC around the holidays.
Sean says he loved working on all three of the How to Train Your Dragon movies, adding that working on the third film was bittersweet because it was the end of the franchise.
“The first film was perfect,” says Sean. “I think the third movie ends on a great note and has the best ending of all three films.”
Other projects Sean has worked on include: The Boss Baby (2017) (additional art/animation); Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016) (animator); How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014) (supervising animator); The Croods (2013) (animation supervisor/character lead animator: Ugga/Sandy); Puss in Boots (2011) (supervising animator); Megamind (2010) (animator: additional animation); How to Train Your Dragon (2010) (animator); Monsters vs. Aliens (2009) (animator); Bee Movie (2007) (animator); Over the Hedge (2006) (animator); Shark Tale (2004) (assistant animator); and Futurama (1999-2003) (TV Series) (character layout artist - 20 episodes).
Sean says that as a kid, he drew all the time and that he was always really good for his age.
“Sometimes, when I was little and people saw my drawings hanging on my Mom’s refrigerator, they thought they were made by my older brother, Vin, because they were very advanced for my age,” says Sean.
Even his teachers recognized his talent including his art teacher Joyce Gore, who he says “made him feel talented.” In fact, Joyce, who taught Sean art in grades K-6 at Harrison Elementary School, is the person who recommended that TAPinto Livingston interview Sean.
“Sean was always happiest when drawing,” says Joyce. “He was a pleasure to teach and I am so proud, but not surprised, by his success.”
After graduating LHS, Sean went to the Joe Kubert School of Cartooning Graphic Arts in Dover, NJ. He says he loved the school; however, while he trained there as a hand-drawn traditional animator, today, he says, most animation is done on the computer.
“I actually enjoy working on the computer better,” he states. “Drawing was always very difficult for me and animating a CG puppet is hard, but much easier than drawing.”
After graduation, Sean moved to Los Angeles and took digital animation classes. He now lives there with his wife of 17 years, Tina, and their daughter, Emma, 9, who is a budding artist according to the proud dad.
“I just packed up my car and drove to LA without any contacts or job prospects,” says Sean.
It took Sean a year to find a job, which he says was on a show called Futurama that aired on Fox.
“I worked on that show for four seasons and when it was canceled, I got a job at DreamWorks, which was on the studio’s last hand-drawn film, Sinbad -Legend of the Seven Seas,” says Sean.
To get the position, Sean says he took a drawing test called a “rough in-between test,” which helped him land the position.
Throughout his career, Sean has met and/or worked with celebrities like Steven Spielberg, Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Baruchel, America Ferrara, Catherine Keener, Jordan Peele, and Jason Reitman. He says the actors come in a year or two before the animation starts to record their voices based on the storyboards. Then Sean and his team animate the CG puppets to the voice performances.
Even though he works on the films – Sean says he still loves to see them in the theaters with audiences.
“I love going to our films on opening weekend and watching people’s reactions,” says Sean. “If the crowd is moved by the performance, or laughs at a shot that I animated, there’s no better feeling.”
Sean says he absolutely loves what he does.
“I can animate all day long on my computer while listening to music and Howard Stern,” he says.
Sean says that he hopes to always be working at DreamWorks.
“There’s nowhere else I’d rather be,” he says.
Sean is a perfect example of someone who’s dream has come true.