Jill Culton is an American film director and a 27-year veteran of animated feature films. She has made a career as an animator in both 2D and 3D formats, a character designer, visual development artist, story board artist, Head of Story, Head of story development, writer, director and executive producer. Culton is considered to be among the first female pioneers who helped to further the medium of computer feature animation.
She earned her BFA in the character animation program at California Institute of the Arts, where she later taught advanced animation.
The first decade of her career was spent at Pixar Animation Studios where she was an animator and storyboard artist on Toy Story, A Bug’s Life and Toy Story 2 on which she also designed the beloved cow girl ‘Jessie.’ Culton was the Head of Story development and credited with “Original Story by” on Monsters Inc., which continues to be one of the most popular films in Pixar’s history.
Spending two years with Industrial Light and Magic, she was hired to help this strictly CG FX studio develop animated features. There she helped develop Curious George along with many other projects.
Jill made her directorial debut on Sony’s first animated feature, Open Season (2006). This cemented her place as one of the first female principal directors of a big budget, computer-animated feature. During her tenure at Sony, she also directed Midnight Bun Run, a short based on the Open Season characters, and executive produced Open Season 2. She was also integral to the development of Hotel Transylvania.
In 2011 Culton began working at DreamWorks Animation Studios. There she was hired to write and direct a movie that became her passion, the story of a young girl and a Yeti called Everest. Over the course of several years, the movie grew into what is now Abominable, a co-production between China’s Pearl Studios and DreamWorks Animation. Abominable is slated for a Summer 2019 release in China with a US and international release currently scheduled for September of 2019.
Though she has spent most of her career working in Los Angeles, Culton has always maintained a home in the woodlands of Marin County where she writes, sculpts, draws and finds inspiration by wandering in the redwoods and along beaches, usually with a big dog. Whether it’s skiing in the mountains, surfing in the ocean, or hiking in the woods, Culton says Nature keeps her grounded and able to access storytelling in a clear and present way.