Bill Damaschke ’85 is a former Chief Creative Officer at DreamWorks Animation and as of recently, current president of Animation and Family Entertainment at Skydance Media.
After graduating from IWU with a B.F.A. in musical theater, Damaschke spent several years in New York working as an actor both on and off Broadway, and as an assistant for producers and executives at movie studios and record labels, along with “a million other things.” But after moving to Los Angeles on a whim, he decided to pursue a job as a production assistant and ended up spending over 20 years at DreamWorks Animation, which at the time was a startup company led by film director and producer Steven Spielberg, former Disney executive Jeffrey Katzenberg and music executive David Geffen.
He rose from an entry-level position to the company’s Chief Creative Officer. Damaschke served as a production assistant on Prince of Egypt, the company’s first animated film, and since then has worked on 27 other DreamWorks animated films – including box office hits How to Train Your Dragon, the Madagascar franchise and the Shrek franchise. He also helped launch the company’s theater and television divisions. All the while, DreamWorks was constantly expanding, as a whirlwind of animators, writers, storyboard artists, directors and other creatives under Damaschke’s purview made film after film, sometimes as many as five films every two years. Damaschke’s journey also eventually lead to the creation of his own production company, StoryKey Entertainment, which is producing musicals such as Moulin Rouge! and The Prom, coming to Broadway later this year.
Now, as president of Animation and Family Entertainment at Skydance Media, Damaschke looks forward to continuing to lead creative teams in crafting animated feature films that will leave a lasting impression on viewers of all ages.
Founded in 2010, Skydance Media specializes in film, television, interactive platforming, and most recently, animation. Damaschke was brought on board in 2017 to head the company’s animation division, which has partnered with Ilion Animation Studios in Spain for two upcoming fantasy films Luck (March 2021) and Split (TBA), as well as several others in the production pipeline.
At the helm of this new branch of Skydance, Damaschke finds himself in a similar “startup mode” to when he first began at DreamWorks Animation. “It requires you to be super excited and roll up your sleeves, and certainly in the environment and culture we have here at Skydance, every single person’s contribution matters,” said Damaschke.
The chance to create movies from an entirely clean slate is an exciting prospect for Damaschke. “We live in a world where there’s so many reboots and so many remakes. And I love going to all those movies. But that’s the one very clear thing about Skydance. We’re starting from scratch and we are making original films.”
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