Burbank students drawn to Cartoon Network mentor program

More than 150 seventh- and eighth-grade students at Jordan Middle School were given a new task this week: to write and draw a three-minute animated cartoon.

A panel of teachers and parents will select the best entry this spring and Cartoon Network will produce the winning cartoon.

On Wednesday, Cartoon Network animator Dave Smith shared his career path and a few tips for success in animation.

“Write what you know, write what you feel. Write what interests you,” Smith said.


His resume includes the “Power Puff Girls” show, the last three “Shrek” films, the “Madagascar” franchise, “Dexter’s Laboratory” and the movie “Shark Tale.”

Last year, Smith participated in a similar program with fourth- and fifth-graders at Stevenson Elementary.

He then coached fifth-grader Lillian Hughes in her animated feature “Mr. Pike,” based on Hughes’ experience with a real-life substitute teacher.

Hughes went on to direct the cartoon at Cartoon Network’s studio, using help from her family, who provided voices for her characters.


The union between Cartoon Network and Burbank schools was the brainchild of Zita Lefebvre, community relations director for Cartoon Network.

“This is what we should do with our kids,” she said. “That’s our audience. That’s who we should be focusing on.”

On Wednesday, Smith shared 1950s storyboards from “The Flintstones” and “Yogi Bear” cartoons.

Then he previewed a new episode of “The Power Puff Girls,” scheduled for release next year, in which a “robotic terror” wreaks havoc on the city of “Townsville.”

Smith also spoke to the animator’s process in creating storyboards 300 pages long for each show.

When pitching ideas, Smith said, animators act out their various characters in front of the show’s crew.

“Hopefully, if it’s a comedy, you make everyone laugh,” Smith said. “If no one laughs in the room, you’ve got to go back to your desk and re-do the whole thing.”



Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan