June 7, 1970
Aylmer, Quebec, Canada
Dean DeBlois was an accomplished animated film director whose works included the Oscar-nominated movies "Lilo & Stitch" (2002) and "How to Train Your Dragon" (2010) and its sequels. DeBlois was born on June 7, 1970 in Aylmer, Quebec. After graduating from high school, he attended Sheridan College's three-year Classical Animation program in Oakville, Ontario. During those three years, he worked as an assistant animator on such projects as the Canadian animated television series "The Raccoons" (CBC 1985-1991) and "The Nutcracker Prince" (1990), a Warner Bros. animated adaptation of the famous Russian ballet "The Nutcracker." DeBlois graduated from Sheridan College in 1990, the same year he was hired by the animated film production company Sullivan Bluth Studios, where he worked on two more Warner Bros. animated feature films, "A Troll in Central Park" (1994) and "Thumbelina" (1994). Both films were box office disappointments, and DeBlois jumped ship into the offices of Walt Disney as a storyboard artist. In 1998, DeBlois got his first big opportunity when he was assigned to replace Chris Sanders as Head of Story on Disney's 36th animated feature "Mulan" (1998). DeBlois and Sanders became frequent collaborators shortly thereafter. Sanders became DeBlois' co-director and co-writer on the 2002 Disney animated feature "Lilo & Stitch," which told the story about an oddly cute extraterrestrial creature adopted by a young Hawaiian girl. "Lilo & Stitch" was both a commercial and critical success, earning a nomination for Best Animated Feature at the 2002 Academy Awards. It also spawned two direct-to-video sequels, "Stitch! the Movie" (2003) and "Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch" (2005), as well as a TV series titled "Lilo & Stitch: the Series" (Disney Channel 2003-06). In 2007, DeBlois took a break from animation to work on his first live-action film, the musical documentary "Heima." The film followed the popular Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Rós during their homecoming tour in the summer of 2006. DeBlois and Sanders teamed up again in 2008 to take over the troubled production of DreamWorks Animation's adaptation of author Cressida Cowell's beloved children's book "How to Train Your Dragon." The two heavily re-tooled the film's story, centered around Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, an unusually scrawny teenage Viking who went against his family's tradition of dragonslaying to befriend a dragon. With an all-star cast the included Jay Baruchel as Hiccup, Gerard Butler as Hiccup's fearless father, and Scottish comedian and late night talk show host Craig Ferguson, "How to Train Your Dragon" was another commercial and critical success for the DeBlois-Sanders duo. With the success of "How to Train Your Dragon," DreamWorks Animation tapped DeBlois and Sanders to direct the film's sequel. "How to Train Your Dragon 2" (2014) featured many of the first film's original cast and also included Academy Award-winner Cate Blanchett as Hiccup's long-lost mother. The film first premiered at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, and received positive reviews from critics and audiences alike.