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Kelly Asbury, Animation Director
Kelly Asbury,
    Animation Director

Kelly Asbury began his career at DreamWorks SKG in 1995. He just completed directing (with Andrew Adamson and Conrad Vernon) Shrek 2 (2004), which was released in 2004. Asbury also directed (with Lorna Cook) the Oscar-nominated Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002). His talents as a storyboard artist,art director and designer have been put to use on some of Hollywood's most popular animated films, like Shrek (2001), Chicken Run (2000), Prince of Egypt, The (1998), Toy Story (1995), Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas, The (1993), Beauty and the Beast (1991) and Little Mermaid, The (1989). Kelly Asbury is also a noted author. His book DUMMY DAYS: AMERICA'S FAVORITE VENTRILOQUISTS FROM RADIO AND EARLY TV - a vintage photo-filled volume - featuring a foreword by film critic and entertainment historian Leonard Maltin - hit bookshelves in summer 2003. This book was featured in TV Guide, Emmy Magazine and on a special segment of National Public Radio's Morning Edition.

Asbury has written and illustrated several children's picture books, including the Halloween series Witch Dot, Frankensquare, Candy Corn and the winter-themed Where is Snow's nose? His colorful books Rusty's Red Vacation, Bonnie's Blue House and Yolanda's Yellow School, were included among Child Magazine's "Best Books of '97" and received glowing reviews from Publisher's Weekly, School Library Journal and Horn Books. Kelly Asbury also provided the illustrations for the books Autumn Walk, Winter Walk and the upcoming Wild Witches' Ball (August 2004). Born in 1960 and raised in Beaumont, Texas, Kelly Asbury attended Lamar University, before transferring to California Institute of the Arts, near Los Angeles, in 1980. He now lives in Pasadena, California with his wife, artist/actress Loretta Weeks.

Still Shot from "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron"

Kelly Asbury: IMDb Filmography

Answer This? Q & A with Mr. Asbury
Film Addiction: Were you on board for the first Shrek?
Kelly Asbury: Yes.  I was very involved in the initial casting, character design, art direction and story development phase of SHREK over the course of a year and a half. This was at DreamWorks in Glendale,
prior to when the project relocated to PDI in Palo Alto, CA.

FA: What advances have taken place in computer animation since the last Shrek? Does Shrek 2 take advantage of any new techniques?
KA: Basically, SHREK 2 is three times more technically complex in almost every
way, from the more fluid and able movements of the characters to the more
enhanced and realistic lighting and set modeling.

FA: What is your role in the film Shrek 2?
KA: I, along with my talented partners Conrad Vernon and Andrew Adamson, directed the movie. Between the 3 of us, we oversaw all creative aspects of the production.  Kind of like a relay race.

FA: It is my understanding that the planning for Shrek 2 started
almost immediately after Shrek. How long has this production taken?

KA: Nearly 3.5 years.

FA: I have read rumors that Shrek 3 is already in the works. Is
there any truth to that?
KA: There is talk of a SHREK 3, but I'm not involved and can't comment on
FA: You have directed traditionally animated films such as Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. What are the differences between that and computer animated features as far as direction goes? Do you have a different approach or style?
KA: Essentially, there is no difference.  It's all in the storytelling and
character development. The same directorial considerations come into play.

FA: James Baxter's animation extras on the DVD of Spirit were really informative (How to draw a horse, et al). Are extras like these done in conjunction with the principal shoot? or are these done after the theatrical release?
KA: A little of both, really.  It depends on what is decided by the Home
Entertainment group, as to what is needed for the extra material.  A lot is
recorded along the way, with gaps filled in

FA: This ties into the last question: Is there animation that has been created now for Shrek 2 that will not be used until its DVD release?
KA: Hmmmm...I think I'll let that be a surprise...and there will be some
surprises, I promise.

FA: Here is the old chicken and egg question: Which comes first the voices or the animation?
KA: When a character speaks, the voice comes first.  The animator needs a
soundtrack to follow in order to animate the lip sync.  Therefore, the
voices are recorded first and the animation is created
FA: You have worked on a number of large scale production
animations over the years, have you ever entertained branching out and
making your own short animation? Does this have any interest to you?
KA: Sure.  At heart, I'm a storyteller, no matter what the venue.  If the
medium is the most appropriate, that's the best way to tell the story.  I
actually hope to direct a live-action film next.

FA:Last Question: You are also an author, tell me a little bit about those ventures?
KA: Again, I like to draw and tell stories.  Books are a great outlet for me, just like movies.  I also like entertainment history, so I wrote my book DUMMY DAYS: AMERICA'S FAVORITE VENTRILOQUIST FROM RADIO AND EARLY TV (Angel City Press 2003/ to satisfy the curiosity I had for the subject.  I basically strive to do whatever I want in life.  Not too much to ask, huh?
A Closer Look:
 Dummy Days
Bringing back the best of the Golden Age of ventriloquism, Dummy Days profiles the five consummate performers who turned a vaudevillian gimmick into an American art form: the legendary Edgar Bergen, the surreal Senor Wences, the innovative Paul Winchell, the versatile Jimmy Nelson and the invincible Shari Lewis. Review
Dummy Days" captures the essence of a time in the early (some say "golden") days of television. This book is about the art of ventriloquism as it flourished on TV in the 1950s and about the famous ventriloquists who practiced the art -- Edgar Bergen, Senor Wences, Paul Winchell, Jimmy Nelson and Shari Lewis.

Dummy Days is well-researched, beautifully written, and well-produced. I am grateful to Kelly Asbury for doing this work. It reproduces with uncanny accuracy a time that was magic to me, a time that I remember very well; it returns me to my childhood when I was a performing ventriloquist and following these five stars closely. But more than transporting one elder fellow down memory lane, this book serves a larger purpose. Like the Foxfire books of years ago, this book captures and preserves part of a culture as it existed in its golden era, an artform that in its original format has been mostly unattended for far too long.

Most literature about the culture of the 1950s misses the mark. Asbury got it right, and he gave comprehensive coverage of the subject. This is an important book. It recalls and records inportant things that otherwise exist only in the memories of my generation.

Highly recommended, not only for those who remember the dummy days, but also for those who do not and are unaware of just how golden they really were.

Al Stevens