Vicky Jenson
Victoria Jenson

(1960-03-04) March 4, 1960 (age 63)
Occupation(s)Director, animator, storyboard artist, production designer
Years active1977–present
Notable workShrek, Shark Tale

Victoria Jenson (born March 4, 1960) is an American film director of both live-action and animated films.[1] She has directed projects for DreamWorks Animation, including Shrek, the first film to win an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature,[2][3][4] giving rise to one of Hollywood's largest film franchises.[5]


Biography and early work

Jenson began painting animation cells at the age of 13.[6] She attended the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and California State University Northridge.[7] She "started in animation as a cell painter. She learned to paint backgrounds on The Flintstones (1960) and The Smurfs (1981) at Hanna Barbera Studios where she worked summers to cover fall semesters at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco".[1] She later became a storyboard artist for Warner Bros., Marvel and Disney Television, and variously worked as a production designer, art director and co-producer".[2] In the early 1980s, Jenson worked on the storyboard backgrounds on the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoon series for Filmation. She was also a design and color stylist on Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures, the influential Ralph Bakshi reboot of Mighty Mouse, in the 1980s. She held the same position with The Ren & Stimpy Show in the early 1990s, for creator John Kricfalusi.[2] For both Mighty Mouse and Ren & Stimpy, Jenson was among those "responsible for the development of the visual style" of the series.[2] In 1992, Jenson was the art director for FernGully: The Last Rainforest,[2][8] and the production designer for Computer Warriors: The Adventure Begins and Playroom. In 2000, Jenson began working for DreamWorks as a production designer and story artist for The Road to El Dorado.[2][6]

Directing career

Having worked on The Road to El Dorado (2000) for DreamWorks, the studio initially hired Jenson to work on Shrek as a story artist, with the directors to be Andrew Adamson (also a first-time director) and the late Kelly Asbury, who had joined in 1997 to co-direct the film. However, Asbury left a year later for work on the 2002 film Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, and Jenson was selected by producer Jeffrey Katzenberg to be the new director of the film.[5][6] Jenson recalled her experience being brought into Shrek, and eventually tapped to direct, as follows:

For a long time, the movie didn't know what it wanted to be. One problem was unavoidable: Chris Farley had died, and the story had been geared around him, so when he went, the story kind of went with him. It went through an upheaval while they tried to find the right tone for it. I think they were really close to shelving the project when a few of us came into story to try and find a tone that we could work with. When Kelly Asbury moved on to Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron I became head of story, along with Randy Cartwright. Along with Andrew Adamson, who stayed on as director, we started pulling little pieces together out of what remained, and part of the way through, Jeffrey decided that I should be directing. A few months later, we started production.[5]

Jenson described the directing process as one in which "we didn't try to figure out how to make adolescents laugh. You have to use yourself as the best judge and use your own instincts. We figured if we laughed at it, chances are good someone else would too".[6] According to Adamson, the co-directors mutually decided to split the work in half, so the crew could at least know whom to go to with specific questions about the film's sequences: "We both ended up doing a lot of everything", "We're both kinda control freaks, and we both wanted to do everything."[9][2] Following the success of Shrek, Jenson went on to co-direct Shark Tale with Bibo Bergeron and Rob Letterman.[10] In 2003, while working on Shark Tale, Jenson received the first annual Kiera Chaplin Limelight award given at the Women's Image Network Awards.[11]

In July 2017, it was reported that Jenson was directing an untitled animated fantasy film. The film tells of a teenager who "comes of age using magical powers to defend her family when the opposing forces of light and darkness threaten to divide her kingdom. The untitled project was now being titled Spellbound.[12]

Live-action work

She directed a live-action short, Family Tree, which "premiered at Sundance, screened at countless festivals, including Sundance, SXSW, Aspen and Malibu and went on to win multiple festival awards".[4] In 2009, she finished her first live-action feature directorial work for the Alexis Bledel-starring comedy, Post Grad.[1] The film received generally negative reviews. Also in 2009, Jenson directed all of the spots for the year-long "Modelquins" ad campaign for Old Navy, including the "Supermodelquins Christmas" ads.[13] She was represented by the Anonymous Content agency for the campaign.[14]

In 2015, Jenson directed a stage production of the play, Time Stands Still, by Donald Margulies.[15] The Los Angeles Times wrote of Jenson's stage directorial debut: "the staging by Vicky Jenson successfully captures the script's broad contours",[16] and Broadway World praised the production, stating that "Vicky Jenson smoothly directs her uniformly skilled four-member cast".[17]


Feature films

Year Title Director Art
Other Notes
1985 The Secret of the Sword No No No Yes No No
1987 Rock Odyssey No No No No No Yes Background Artist
Slam Dance No No No Yes No No
Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night No No No Yes No No
1988 She's Having a Baby No No No Yes No No
Pound Puppies and the Legend of Big Paw No No No No No Yes Design
1990 Playroom No No No No Yes No
1992 FernGully: The Last Rainforest No Yes Yes Yes No Yes Layout
2000 The Road to El Dorado No No No Yes Additional No
Chicken Run No No No No No Yes Additional Story
2001 Shrek Yes No No No No No
2003 Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas No No No Additional No No
2004 Shark Tale Yes No No No No No
2005 Cerebral Print: The Secret Files No No No No No Yes Actress
2008 Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa No No No No No Yes Development
2009 Post Grad Yes No No No No No
2024 Spellbound Yes No No No No No


Year Title Cel Painter
1977 The Flintstones Yes
1981 The Smurfs Yes

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
2001 Academy Awards Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Shrek Won
BAFTA Awards 2001 Children's Award, Best Feature Film Won
Annie Awards Outstanding Individual Achievement for Directing in an Animated Feature Production Won
Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or Nominated
L.A. Film Critics Association Best Animation Won
National Board of Review Best Animated Feature Won
Karlovy Vary International Film Festival Audience Award Won
2002 BAFTA Awards 2002 Best Adapted Screenplay Won
Critics' Choice Awards 2002 Best Animated Film Won
People's Choice Awards Favorite Motion Picture. Won
2003 Aspen Shorts Fest 2003 Audience Award, Glenwood Springs Section Family Tree Won
SXSW 2003 Special Jury Award, Narrative Short Won
Dragon*Con Independent Film Festival Best Short Won
Dragon*Con Independent Film Festival Best Magical Realism Won
Empire Film Festival 2003 Audience Award, Best Short Won
Malibu Film Festival 2003 Best of the Fest Won
Malibu Film Festival 2003 Best Live Action Short Won
DeadCENTER Film Festival Grand Jury Award Won
Wine Country Film Festival 2003 Best Short Film (Novela Form Film) Won
2004 Big Bear Lake Int'l Film Festival 2004 Jury Award, Best Short Film Won
2005 Academy Awards Best Animated Feature Shark Tale Nominated
BAFTA Awards 2005 Children's Award, Best Feature Film. Nominated
ASCAP Awards 2005 Top Box Office Film Won

Personal life

Jenson is the sister of classical violinist Dylana Jenson. When she's not working in the studio, Jenson enjoys ultralight backpacking, learning to play mandolin and teaching her border collie pointless new tricks.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Biography for Vicky Jenson at IMDb Retrieved April 9, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Yoram Allon, Del Cullen, Hannah Patterson, Contemporary North American film directors: a Wallflower critical guide (2002), p. 2.
  3. ^ Andrew Osmond, 100 Animated Feature Films (2010), p. 185.
  4. ^ a b ACME filmworks page on Vicky Jenson.
  5. ^ a b c Michael Mallory, "Firsts Among Equals", Animation Magazine (March 6, 2014).
  6. ^ a b c d Hillary Atkin, "Vicky Jenson: Filmmaker", Variety (November 14, 2001).
  7. ^ "Vicky Jenson". ACME Film Works. Retrieved 23 June 2016.
  8. ^ Andrew Osmond, 100 Animated Feature Films (2010), p. 71.
  9. ^ Neuwirth, Allan (2003). Makin' Toons: Inside the Most Popular Animated TV Shows and Movies. Skyhorse Publishing Inc.
  10. ^ Sito, Tom (2006). Drawing the Line: The Untold Story of the Animation Unions from Bosko to Bart Simpson. University Press of Kentucky. p. 27. ISBN 978-0813124070.
  11. ^ Ball, Ryan (November 3, 2003). "Kim Possible Wins WIN Awards". Animation. Retrieved June 1, 2013. The first annual Kiera Chaplin Limelight award was presented to Vicky Jenson, co-director of DreamWorks' animated blockbuster Shrek and the upcoming Shark Tale (formerly Sharkslayer).
  12. ^ Kit, Borys (July 19, 2017). "Skydance Taps Directors for Two Animation Movies (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 24, 2017.
  13. ^ "Old Navy Supermodelquins Christmas", Inspiration Room (December 5, 2009).
  14. ^ "Anonymous Content Launches Web and TV Campaign For Old Navy".
  15. ^ "Vicky Jenson to Direct TIME STANDS STILL at Secret Rose Theatre", Broadway World (December 17, 2014). By Whom?
  16. ^ Philip Brandes, "Unrealized potential in 'Time Stands Still'", Los Angeles Times (January 23, 2015).
  17. ^ Kaan, Gil (19 January 2015). "BWW Reviews: Margulies' Intense TIME STANDS STILL Powerfully Provokes". Broadway World. Retrieved 23 December 2015.