Mark Dindal

Mark L. Dindal (born 1960)[1] is an American film director, effects animator, screenwriter, character designer, storyboard artist and voice actor, who is famous for having directed popular films like Cats Don't Dance (1997), The Emperor's New Groove (2000), and Chicken Little (2005).[2] He worked in many Disney projects as an effects animator, and also led the special effects for several films, such as The Little Mermaid (1989) and The Rescuers Down Under (1990).

Mark Dindal
Mark Louis Dindal

1960 (age 59–60)
Alma materCalArts
OccupationFilm director, screenwriter, effects animator, character designer, storyboard artist, voice actor
Years active1980–present
Notable work


Early Years/Effects Animator at Disney (1960-1988)Edit

Dindal was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1960.[3]

Growing up, Dindal was influenced by Disney films and Warner Bros. Saturday cartoons.[4] One of his earliest influence was Disney's The Sword in the Stone, which he saw with his grandmother at the age of three.[4] It also helped him to go to a career in animation with help from his dad who took art as a hobby and taught Dindal to draw while growing up in Syracuse, New York.[5]

As a high schooler, Dindal went to Jamesville-DeWitt High School, in which he attended most of the art classes that the school had offer. Dindal learned animation at CalArts.[3] He began working at Disney in 1980.[3] His work included The Fox & the Hound (1981), The Black Cauldron (1985), Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983), The Great Mouse Detective (1986), and Oliver & Company (1988),[3] each following a very similar animation style in all the films. This style consisted of similar backgrounds with delicate animation and complex character effects, and was well received.

Leaving and Returning to Disney (1986-1992)Edit

After these projects, Dindal left Disney around 1986 to briefly work on outside projects with Filmation and worked on projects like BraveStarr and The Brave Little Toaster. He returned to the studio in 1987 and got his first head role as a visual effects supervisor for The Little Mermaid (1989).[3] He later worked as head animator for the film The Rescuers Down Under (1990).[3] He directed the animated segment for the live-action film The Rocketeer (1991), and worked as an effects animator on the animated film Aladdin (1992).[3]

Dindal as the Director (1997-2000)Edit

Dindal's directorial debut was Cats Don't Dance, which was released in 1997, three years before The Emperor's New Groove was released in 2000.[3] In Cats Don't Dance Dindal voiced Max. The film won the Annie Award for Best Animated Film and Dindal was nominated for directing. The Emperor's New Groove was initially expected to be a Disney musical feature called Kingdom of the Sun. However, the idea didn't work out, and Dindal, along with Chris Williams and David Reynolds, changed the script to a comedy. During the six-year production, he started to work on Cats Don't Dance, a Turner Broadcasting (since merged into Warner Bros.) animated musical production.

Chicken Little (2005)Edit

Dindal worked on Chicken Little (2005), another Disney production, which needed a large animation team. Dindal voiced Morkubine Porcupine and Coach in the film. The film was nominated to several Annies, though Dindal was not nominated as a director. During the film's production, DisneyToon Studios produced Kronk's New Groove as a direct-to-video feature. As Dindal was working on Chicken Little at the time, he did not have a position on the staff. Later, Dindal created the TV series The Emperor's New School (2006–2008).

Post-Disney era (2006-present)Edit

In March 2006, a day after the DVD release of Chicken Little, Dindal and producer Randy Fullmer left the company because they were reportedly tired of dealing with then-WDFA head David Stainton.[6] In the next few years, Dindal was attached as a director to several live-action films, including Sherlock's Secretary[7] and Housebroken,[8] both of which for Walden Media, and a film adaptation of the book Kringle for Paramount Pictures.[9] In December of 2010, Dindal was directing at DreamWorks Animation an animated feature film titled Me and My Shadow, which would've combine both computer and traditional animation.[10] By January 2012, he was no longer directing the film[11] and was replaced by story artist Alessandro Carloni as director, and the film has been in development limbo since 2013.[12] In July 2014, he was credited as the illustrator for a documentary film Restrung, centering on a Disney and Filmation collaborator Randy Fullmer on his career at Wyn Guitars from 2006. On November 12, 2018, it was announced that Dindal will direct an animated Garfield feature for Alcon Entertainment, with pre-production beginning the following month in Los Angeles.[13] In March 2019, Dindal received story artist credit for the Nickelodeon film, Wonder Park. That same year, it was announced that Dindal will direct a film based on the Funko pop figures for Warner Animation Group. He is attached to the project alongside Pixar veteran Teddy Newton.[14]

Unrealized projectsEdit

  • Original version of Cats Don't Dance - long before Dindal was attached as director, Cats Don't Dance was initially a live-action/CG-animated hybrid film that would've involved Michael Jackson as producer, star, and musical consultant. By 1994, Jackson left the project entirely (for Turner Feature Animation; 1993).
  • Kingdom of the Sun - an epic retelling of The Prince and the Pauper in the vein of The Lion King. The story was rewritten by 1998 as a screwball comedy titled The Emperor's New Groove (for Walt Disney Feature Animation; 1994).
  • Original version of Chicken Little - the original version of Chicken Little would've followed an overreacting, doom and gloomy female chicken, that went to summer camp to build confidence so she wouldn't overreact, as well as to repair her relationship with her father. At the summer camp, she would uncover a nefarious plot that her camp counselor was planning against her hometown. The plot was completely reworked due to studio meddling and David Stainton becoming the new head of Walt Disney Feature Animation in 2003 (for Walt Disney Feature Animation; 2001).
  • Sherlock's Secretary - a live-action film about a man who resides at the infamous home of Sherlock Holmes receives a letter requesting the help of Holmes. The man's life changes when he decides to take on this case (for Walden Media; 2006).
  • Kringle - a film adaption of the book under the same name that tells the untold story of Santa Claus (for Paramount Pictures; 2007).
  • Housebroken - a live-action film about a newly married couple’s talking pets, who must adjust to living together under one roof (for Walden Media; 2009).
  • Me and My Shadow - (for DreamWorks Animation; 2010)


Year Title Director Writer Animator Other Note
1981 The Fox and the Hound No No Yes No Effects animator (uncredited)
1982 Fun with Mr. Future No No Yes No
1983 Mickey's Christmas Carol No No Yes No Effects animator
1985 The Black Cauldron No No Yes No
1986 The Great Mouse Detective No No Yes No
1987 Sport Goofy in Soccermania No No Yes No
The Brave Little Toaster No No No Yes Effects animation consultant
Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night No No Yes No Special effects animator
1988 BraveStarr No No Yes No
BraveStarr: The Legend No No Yes No Effects animator
Oliver & Company No No Yes No
1989 The Little Mermaid No No Yes No Visual effects supervisor
1990 The Prince and the Pauper No No Yes No Storyboard artist
The Rescuers Down Under No No Yes No Head effects animator
1991 The Rocketeer Yes No Yes No Director: Nazi Invasion segment
1992 Frozen Assets No No No Yes Animation sequence producer
Tom and Jerry: The Movie No No Yes No Effects animator
Aladdin No No Yes No
The Little Mermaid No No Yes Yes Effects consultant (1 episode), effects animator (2 episodes), storyboard artist (1 episode)
1993 Happily Ever After No No Yes No Special effects animator
1997 Cats Don't Dance Yes Yes Yes Yes Story, character designer, storyboard artist, storyboard supervisor, voice of Max
2000 The Emperor's New Groove Yes Yes No Yes Story, voice of Kitty Yzma
2005 Chicken Little Yes Yes Yes Yes Story, character designer, voice of Morkubine Porcupine & Coach
Kronk's New Groove No No No Yes Based on characters (uncredited)
2006-2008 The Emperor's New School No Yes No No Creator, writer
2014 Restrung No No No Yes Illustrator
2019 Wonder Park No No Yes No Story Artist
TBA Untitled animated Garfield film Yes No No No
Untitled Funko film Yes No No No

Awards and nominationsEdit


  • Best Individual Achievement: Directing in a Feature Production for Cats Don't Dance (Annie) (1997)
  • Outstanding Individual Achievement for Writing in an Animated Feature Production for The Emperor's New Groove (Annie) (2001)
  • Outstanding Individual Achievement for Directing in an Animated Feature Production for The Emperor's New Groove (Annie) (2001)
  • Best Animated Feature for The Emperor's New Groove (Annie) (2001)
  • Best Animated or Mixed Media Feature for The Emperor's New Groove & Chicken Little (Satellite Award) (2000; 2005)
  • Best Animated Feature for Chicken Little (Critics' Choice Movie Awards) (2005)


  • Best Animated Feature for Cats Don't Dance (Annie) (1997)


Cats Don't Dance The Emperor's New Groove Chicken Little The Emperor's New School Restrung
Don Knotts
Patrick Warburton
John Goodman
Eartha Kitt
Wendie Malick
Frank Welker
Randy Fullmer
David Reynolds
Don Hall
John Debney
The Walt Disney Company


  1. ^ a b Hulett, Steve (June 13, 2011). "The Mark Dindal Interview -- Part I". TAG Blog. Retrieved November 27, 2011.
  2. ^ Lanpher, Dorse A. (2010-10-19). Flyin' Chunks and Other Things to Duck: Memoirs of a Life Spent Doodling for Dollars. iUniverse. pp. 176–. ISBN 978-1-4502-6099-2. Retrieved 20 May 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Chicken Little - Production Information". The Walt Disney Company Nordic. Archived from the original on May 29, 2016. Retrieved December 26, 2016.
  4. ^ a b Strike, Joe (November 1, 2000). "Mark Dindal's Place in the Sun". Animation World Network. Retrieved December 27, 2014.
  5. ^ "Mark Dindal biography". Retrieved July 4, 2015.
  6. ^ Hill, Jim (October 5, 2006). "A special "No nudes is good news" edition of Why For". Jim Hill Media. Retrieved December 27, 2014.
  7. ^ "Mark Dindal to Direct 'Sherlock's Secretary'". MovieWeb. August 11, 2006. Retrieved December 27, 2014.
  8. ^ McNary, Dave (October 12, 2009). "Dindal draws 'Housebroken'". Variety. Retrieved December 27, 2014.
  9. ^ LaPorte, Nicole (February 27, 2007). "Paramount gets tough with Santa myth". Variety. Retrieved May 17, 2015.
  10. ^ DreamWorks Animation (December 10, 2010). "DreamWorks Animation Pioneers Groundbreaking Combination of CG and Hand-Drawn Animation Techniques in Me and My Shadow for March 2013" (Press release). PR Newswire. Retrieved December 27, 2014.
  11. ^ Kit, Borys (January 31, 2012). "DreamWorks Animation Sets Voice Cast for 'Me & My Shadow' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 1, 2012.
  12. ^ "DreamWorks Animation Pushes Back Release for 'Mr. Peabody & Sherman'". The Hollywood Reporter. February 5, 2013. Retrieved December 26, 2016.
  13. ^ "Mark Dindal To Direct All-Animated 'Garfield' Feature For Alcon". Cartoon Brew. November 12, 2018.
  14. ^ Fleming, Mike (September 16, 2019). "Warner Bros Animation Plans Funko Film Based On Collectible Figures". Deadline.

External linksEdit