I had the great fortune to sit down with my friend and past co-worker Megan McDonald. We ironically drank nothing but tea during our chat. Megan has worked at companies like Pixar, DreamWorks, and Machine Zone (to name a few). She has worked on films such as, A Bug's Life, Monsters Inc., and How to Train Your Dragon. Our paths first crossed when we both worked on Merry Madagascar. We were in the trenches of production at the time. Now six years later we are both pursuing our creative passions.
Megan has a gift with words and storytelling. She is currently working on her novel, children's book and poetry (check out her work here). Megan has a bright spirit and her strong work ethic is contagious. Often when I have hit a creative block, I plead with her to grab coffee so we can chat. I always leave more inspired and motivated. One thing that Megan said which resonated with me was how she uses research as a way to get through a problem. It is something I have heard echoed in the halls of Pixar. Researching and finding out more about your subject or topic opens up solutions you might not have thought about, sounds simple enough! Megan also happily answered these 6 questions. Hope you leave as inspired as I was after our discussion!
NWF: "How do you take your coffee?"
MM: "Strong! With lots of half and half," she says with a giggle.
NWF: "What is your favorite thing to write about?"
MM: "I like to write about the human condition and relationships. I like putting a character into a situation they never thought that they would be in and see how they react."
NWF: "What is your least favorite thing to write about?"
MM: "Because I was trained as a screen writer, I find writing about interior thoughts difficult. If a character acts the way they should, I shouldn't have to physically describe what they are thinking. Their actions speak louder than words. But in a novel the writer has to describe this to the reader."
NWF: "If you are asked to create or develop a character, how would you first approach this creative project?"
MM: "Read. Reading always expands the horizons. For me reading breaks through the log jam. I am currently reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I usually have a few books going at the same time. One fiction, one non-fiction, and one craft book."
NWF: "What advice would you give your younger self?"
MM: "I would reassure myself that taking the time to find my voice was worth it."
NWF: "What is one of the best creative projects you have worked on and why?"
MM: "How to Train Your Dragon was one of the best! It was an example of how a creative project should be run both in production and on the creative side. The Directors (Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders) had an exquisite vision. And the Producer (Bonnie Arnold) gave them the elements to realize that vision. Watching how they created this film, you could tell that something special was happening. I was in the Lighting Department at the time and I really saw how lighting can tell a story. The crew gift for the movie was a single lit frame of Toothless dipping his nose in the water by Ronman Ng. It was just beautiful," she said with a reflective smile.