Tony Bancroft Interview
Tony Bancroft, animator and animation director, was one of the first Taught By A Pro instructors. His courses on Squash and Stretch cover some of the foundational skills of animation. In the courses Squash & Stretch 1 and Squash & Stretch 2, Tony describes the concepts of squash and stretch and demonstrates their application. John Pomeroy’s courses Overlapping Action 1 and Overlapping 2 build on these concepts.
Recently, Tony took some time to answer questions about his career and offered advice to aspiring animators.
What is the best advice you received?
I have had so many mentors speak wisdom into my life, but the one that stands out as truly life changing were the words of my idol, Hank Ketcham, the creator of Dennis the Menace. I had grown up with a passion for drawing comic strips just like Schultz and Ketcham, but I had fallen into animation. I had been recently hired as an animator by Disney and was working on the movie Beauty and the Beast. Because my dream was to have a popular comic strip and not be an animator, my stay at Disney
was only temporary in my mind. One day, I found out that Hank Ketcham was doing a book signing at the local bookstore. On my lunch break, I rushed down just hoping to meet my artistic idol. I knew that Ketcham used to be an animator at Disney back in the day before he started his comic strip so I thought I would connect with him on that level. I expressed to him how much I loved comic strips and, like him, thought I might just quit animation and do a comic strip myself. He looked at me like I was a crazy person and said, “Don’t you know that comic strips are a dying art form? Animation is a new artistic medium and there are all kinds of stories that have yet to be made. Animation is the future! STAY IN ANIMATION!” So, I did and have never regretted it.
What advice you would give to aspiring artists?
Be kind to others and never compromise. The people you meet along your career path will be the friends that hire you when you need work and that you will hire. As the Beatles said, “You get by with a little help from your friends”. Compromise is an artist’s worst enemy. It will try to make you mediocre and you will never achieve the greatness we all aspire to.
What is your favorite movie (animated or live action)?
“It’s a Wonderful Life”. I love most of Frank Capra’s films because they revolve around the
theme of “one man (or woman) can make a difference”. This underdog theme is something that I find appealing in my life too.
What is your proudest achievement?
Professionally, it would have to be directing Disney’s Mulan. That film was a true gift and education. I worked with some of the best artists in the world and learned a ton!
But personally, my marriage and three wonderful kids I am most proud of.