We have all experienced the challenges of being in shutdown over the past few months due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. So, we reached out to some of our favorite animation veterans to see how they’re coping with their new lives in quarantine and which shows and movies they recommend to make the days and nights more enjoyable! Here is what they kindly shared with us:
Fave activities: We had to dig deep to find ways to keep our eight-year old entertained, and my wife Marisa had a stroke of genius and designed a huge race track in the middle of our living room with tape for us to play Chapas on. Basically, you flick bottle caps until you reach the goal. It was intended to be there just for the day, but we kept postponing it and adding new features like LEGO ramps and shortcuts. It is now a mandatory daily family pastime and has completely taken over the living room, even forcing us to move furniture to accommodate it. So much fun.
Binge-watching tips: I’m not sure that I’d recommend what I’m watching to anyone. A good friend and I have this occasional “Bad Horror Movie Night” tradition, and since we’re both stuck at home, we’ve been making it a frequent event. We’ll pick the worst thing we can find, sync up our playtime (he from L.A. and I from Madrid, Spain), and just watch it all fall apart in front of us while we make bad jokes. I was afraid we were going to quickly run out of bad movies at this rate, but if you’re up for a similar experience, there’s no shortage of horrible titles in most streaming services. Embrace the bad!
CCO, Walt Disney Animation Studio, Writer/Director, Frozen, Frozen 2
Fave activities: Making homemade sushi rolls. Had to turn a bamboo placemat into a rolling mat and all our fish comes from the freezer, but the fam keeps asking for more, so I keep going for it.
Binge-watching tips: I’ve officially seen every Steven Universe episode with my daughter — the music is great! I love The Imagineering Story series on Disney+. Currently escaping into Stephen King’s new book of stories: If It Bleeds.
Jorge Gutierrez, Director, The Book of Life, Maya and the Three
Fave activities: My favorite part of my quarantine work day is that I get to have lunch with my family. I always felt that in our line of work, with the long hours and endless trips, we all missed out on lots of special family moments, big and small. Not anymore!
Binge-watching tips: Now that I get to make things that are culturally specific but universal for the whole world thanks to Netflix Animation, I’m catching up on series made in other parts of the world like Dark, Narcos Mexico, Casa de Papel and Kingdom. On the animation side, I’m really enjoying The Midnight Gospel, Kengan Ashura and revisiting my old favorites like Ninja Scroll, Pinocchio, Spirited Away and The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Producer, How to Train Your Dragon trilogy
Fave activities: I guess my favorite activity right now is some long walks in my neighborhood in Santa Monica.
I love books on tape and I enjoy listening along the way. I’m listening to Angelica Huston’s autobiography, Watch Me. She is the reader and I am enjoying it. I worked with her on The Addams Family.
Binge-watching tips: My guilty pleasure quarantine viewing is vintage Westerns — Errol Flynn & Gary Cooper in particular. Trying to catch up on some Hollywood history. They don’t make ‘em like that anymore!
Creator, Doc McStuffins, Vampirina
Fave activity: My favorite pastime during the lockdown is singing. By myself. With myself. For myself. I’m recording lots of tracks and singing harmony to my previous tracks. No, you will never hear them. No one will. And that’s liberating. As a professional maker, it’s lovely to create with no expectation (indeed, horror at the thought) of anyone else seeing/hearing it.
Binge-watching tips: I’ve been watching everything — isn’t everyone? But loving Unorthodox, Mrs. America and Normal People. Thank God this happened during the Golden Age of Television. Imagine if you had to binge watch The Love Boat or Fantasy Island? There have also been some great features like Crip Camp and The Half of It.
Director, Trolls World Tour
Fave activities: I’m going to pick two favorite quarantine activities — both are done with and without the kids, depending on the time of day. The first is drawing, which if everyone’s asleep in the early morning hours, I will work on my daily diary comic in my sketchbook (some of which I post on Instagram ). The kids and I practice our drawing — which these days involves a lot of Garfields! The second favorite activity is playing music—both with and without the kids, again. We have everything from an out-of-tune piano, to ukuleles, to a steel drum! It’s cathartic to pull it all out of the closet and sing and play our hearts out!
Binge-watching tips: We have all been watching a lot of Adventure Time since quarantine: We’ve started at the beginning and hopefully will make it to the last season. It’s my younger kids’ first time experiencing these characters and I still feel like the show is the most innovative, fun thing on TV. Then when everyone’s asleep, I have been watching Pen Ward’s new show on Netflix — The Midnight Gospel. It is mind-bendingly surreal and definitely transports you to a place you have never been. Plus, it’s funny as well!
Exec Producer, Harvey Girls Forever!
Fave activity: I finally bought a bike! So, I’ve discovered that taking neighborhood rides after working indoors all day is exhilarating and a fun exercise! It’s been my favorite thing to do either by myself or with my family.
Bing-watching tips: My favorite binge so far has been The Crown on Netflix. I hadn’t seen it but had heard some much about it. All three seasons were a wonderful and welcome distraction during this crazy time. My husband and I also just started watching, What We Do in the Shadows and find it just as funny and delightful as the movie!
Fave activities: It’s a tie between shivering in the corner (weeping of course) and screaming incoherently into the cold icy void. Kidding of course — I consider myself very fortunate, and if you’re like me and things aren’t that bad, give to those in need! A few organizations that come to mind are Heart to Heart International and World Central Kitchen. My wife and I have also been making homemade board games and scavenger hunts, which have been a lot of fun. It’s also great connecting with old friends who live far away. You know — people are more and more Connected these days!
Binge-watching tips: Here are some of my favorite movies, some of which are on the Criterion Channel, which I’ve been loving — watch them all and become empowered with cinematic fury!: The Last Detail, We Are the Best!, Grave of the Fireflies, Whisper of the Heart, Sullivan’s Travels, Paris Texas, Shoplifters, Big Deal on Madonna Street, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Ikiru, Show Me Love, You Can Count On Me, The Heartbreak Kid, Minding the Gap and more! TV Shows: Your Hands Off Eizouken! (an amazing show about animation) on Crunchyroll, Never Have I Ever on Netflix, and Forever on Amazon.
Fave activities: (T)here (I)s (M)any an (E)xciting (I)nteresting (S)illy (A)ctivity (F)or (L)aughing (A)way (T)ime: (C)ooking, (I)nternet, (R)eading, (C)ard games, (L)earning, (E)xercise, (H)ealthy (E)ating, (L)aughter, (P)laying games, (M)aking acrostics, (E)ating.
Binge-watching tips: Never Have I Ever is the best! I’ve also been trying to chip away at AFI’s 100 list and failing.
Producer, The Little Prince, Klaus, Escape from Hat
Fave activities: Cooking, baking and gardening, when I’m not busy on Google Hangout and Zoom calls.
Binge-watching tips: I’ve been watching Unorthodox, Salt Fat Acid Heat and Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories on Netflix.
Co-Founder/President of Production, Bento Box Entertainment
Fave activity: Changing diapers on my newborn.
Binge-watching tips: What’s TV?
Director, The Extincts; VFX Supervisor, Puss in Boots
Fave activities: Virtual Happy Hour with our crew on Friday evenings is one of my favorite quarantine activities! We have an amazingly talented and passionate crew — it’s a joy to all get together at the end of the week. Also, wine Zoom on the weekend with my friends … wait, do all my favorite activities include wine?
Binge-watching tips: The farewell season of Schitt’s Creek was a real pleasure, and there’s a new season of Money Heist to catch up on! I’ve just started watching Billions, and I’m completely addicted — brilliant characters!
Head of Character Animation, Netflix
Fave activities: Well, I’m enjoying cooking at home, but I think I may be running out of things I know how to cook (which is a pretty short and simple list). Time to break out some cookbooks! I’m also enjoying trying to teach myself a little 3D modeling in Blender. I’m making tons of mistakes, but it’s really fun.
Binge-watching tips: Westworld, The Mandalorian and re-watching The Office. As far as animation goes, I’ve been re-watching some of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. That stuff is really cool — well-drawn, well-staged, with awesome characters and a really well-thought-out lore.
Editor, The LEGO Movie: The Second Part, Kung Fu Panda trilogy
Fave activities: Before quarantine, I loved indoor cycling or spin. When it all started I knew I would miss it so much, so I made my road bike into an indoor cycling bike using a stand. I placed it in our backyard next to a beautiful rose bed and love it even more than a spin studio.
We also adopted a puppy in February and were worried we would all be at work and not all have the time with him. The quarantine has given us a complete bonding with him, and now as I am on my bike, he runs laps around me.
Binge-watching tips: I am an Irish person living in L.A., so I appreciate that streaming services help me travel home through international shows: I love and recommend Derry Girls, a very funny comedy on Netflix about four schoolgirls living in 1980s Northern Ireland. I’ve just started Caliphate, a Swedish series about the British girls who ran away to Syria. Julian Fellowes’ Belgravia has kept me completely enraptured. Every weekend we introduce a movie to our 10-year-old son. Last week we watched Galaxy Quest, and this week we’ll see Scoob! I love and recommend the smart oddball comedy The Willoughbys and also the Ricky Gervais show Afterlife, which handles loss and grief in such a beautiful way. My son wants us to watch all seasons of The Clone Wars, but I’m not sure if the pandemic will go on that long!
Director, Up, Inside Out, Soul
Fave activities: Reading and hiking. I love reading and hiking. When this is all over, I want to look back and say, “Oh yeah, that was the time when I did all that reading and hiking.” How’s that going? Well, right now I’m sitting at the computer.
Binge-watching tips: We streamed through Schitt’s Creek, which was a lot of fun. As soon as that’s done, look out: reading and hiking.
Fave activities: I’ve been doing a lot of clothes washing by hand because I live in an apartment that doesn’t have a washer or dryer. It’s weird and it’s a lot of work, but washing things myself and then hanging them out on a line to dry has given me a huge sense of pride and accomplishment. Of course, it’s also frustrating because it takes me two hours to wash a load of laundry the size of a small fist, but it’s reminded me to never forget that there’s a huge sense of accomplishment that comes with achieving a physical goal. Next step? Victory garden!
Binge-watching tips: I’ve been very fortunate to have a fiancé who subscribed to the Criterion Channel before all this started and it has been amazing. Watching classic movies, discovering old arthouse films and foreign language films has been so awesome. Recently I’ve watched: Caramel — a touching movie about women running a hair salon in Lebanon (the director was the first woman to be nominated for Best Foreign Language Film this year at the Oscars), The Wonders — a coming of age story set in Italy, Daisies — a weird arthouse movie from the ’60s about best friends that’s just the best visual explosion ever, and Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock. All amazing.
Director, Onward, Monsters University
Fave activity: Napping. I’m tired after five years of working on Onward.
Binge-watching tips: I haven’t been watching movies, I’ve mainly been reading comics and graphic novels nonstop. I’ve been ordering five or six books a week since the shelter-in-place, both to support my local comic store, but also to get caught up on everything I’ve been meaning to read for years. That said my wife and I have been loving season two of What We Do in the Shadows! The premise is great, the production design and effects are beautiful and brilliant — which is so wonderful to see in a comedy. And the cast is across the board top talent.
Director, Finding Nemo, WALL·E, Finding Dory
Fave activity: Writing. Turns out a writer’s life was always a quarantined activity. Introverts (remotely) unite!
Binge-watching tips: Ozark, McMillions, Tales from the Loop, Devs, Portrait of a Lady on Fire.
Creator/Exec Producer, The Owl House
Fave activity: Biking through empty streets just as the sun goes down!
Binge-watching tips: I recently watched all of Pendleton Ward’s The Midnight Gospel and it was one of the most heartfelt, quirky and genuinely emotional shows I’ve ever seen. Work of art! On the live-action side, I’m currently keeping up with What We Do in the Shadows, one of those rare shows that reminds you how joyful entertainment can be.
Writer/Director, The Willoughbys
Fave activity: I play Dominion with my daughters over the phone, and chess and scrabble with my girlfriend. Cooking, which is a completely new skill. And I’m drawing more for myself, which is really great and passing the time. Uhhh … lots of random phone calls to friends, which is super weird for me. I’m talking the “Hi … how ya’ doin'” sort of calls with no real point other than contact with another living soul!
Binge-watching tips: I recently loved Unorthodox. I’ve also been catching up on old movies like Tootsie, Planes Trains and Automobiles, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, M.A.S.H. I loved Knives Out, Ford Vs Ferrari and Parasite. I also binged three seasons of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. John Oliver keeps me sane. And have filled out the mandatory Tiger King time card … aaaaaand … one more season of Ozark left. Also … wrestling documentaries. The Behind the Ring about Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka was pretty great.
Director, Over the Moon
Fave activity: Writing handwritten letters to my family and drawing jigsaw puzzles I send in the mail to my grandkids. There’s something so personal about opening a handwritten letter as compared to an email … I want to make this a regular part of my life.
Binge-watching tip: Tangled … The themes of what we are all living through are symbolized in the movie. Being trapped inside a tower afraid of the kingdom of Corona are just the obvious ones!
Co-Producer/Story Editor, Fancy Nancy
Fave activity: Sitting in my backyard and observing nature.
Binge-watching tips: I’ve started re-watching The Sopranos, which I loved years ago. Even though I’m not a fan of violence, I love the writing and characters.
Showrunner/Executive Producer, Family Guy
Fave activity: Well, it’s not an activity, but my wife has been making eye-rolls. She gives them to me all the time, so I’ve gained a little weight (yet somehow I feel smaller).
Binge-watching tip: I’ve been watching Downton Abbey again so I can feel like I’m quarantining in a nice house.
Showrunner/Executive Producer, Family Guy
Fave activity: Texting friends that I’m going to use this time to learn how to bake bread, speak a second language and finish those three pilots I started writing in the ‘90s. Then I put the phone down and watch six more episodes of Below Deck.
Binge-watching tips: Since I want sincere recommendations, I’m only going to offer sincere recommendations: Call My Agent on Netflix, a really well-acted comedy that’s also at times touching and poignant, about a talent agency that’s every bit as petty and underhanded as you’d expect, but it’s set in Paris so it seems kinda classy; Line of Duty on Hulu, the single best police procedural I’ve ever seen, engrossing and engaging, layered stories filled with huge turns that are always earned and justified; and Morning Joe. I like Morning Joe. I watch it because that still gives me the rest of the day to try to forget the colossal incompetence that’s no doubt keeping us holed up at home in the first place.
Head of Studio, Crunchyroll; President, Women in Animation
Fave activity: Growing veggies and then photographing them.
Binge-watching tips: To get away from it all, I recommend Rockford Files with a little Golden Girls on the side.Julie Lockhart
Co-CEO, Locksmith Animation; Producer, Ron’s Gone Wrong
Fave activities: Taking the dog for a walk last thing at night – the clear skies, clean air and complete lack of people and noise in a usually bustling city is a glorious treat to be savoured.
Binge-watching tips: My teenage boys and I quickly devoured Ricky Gervais’s After Life for the fantastic larger-than-life and eminently animatable character … and Sally Rooney’s Normal People for its poignant, nostalgic look at the joy, pain and heartache of first love (although the intense intimate scenes did make mother and sons slightly uncomfortable … perhaps best viewed without the teenagers!).JP Vine
Director, Ron’s Gone Wrong
Fave activities: Lately my favorite quarantine activities have nearly all involved gin, but as the spring gets warmer and animation dailies get more intense, my new habit is the lunchtime power snooze in the backyard. Difficult to do at work without feeling weird, but no-one knows what I’m up to when I’m not on Zoom — oh wait!
Binge-watching tips: I’ve been trying to get away from screens and do some painting, but my wife and I loved Unorthodox on Netflix. Compelling viewing.