South Orangetown Central School District

Film study virtual presentation with Nash Dunnigan

Tappan Zee High School students enrolled in the “Film Study: The Poet Behind the Lens” class had the opportunity to hear from Nash Dunnigan, Art Director, Design Lead and Designer for a variety of animated feature films, short films and television shows.

Dunnigan has worked in animation for over 30 years and his feature credits include “Robots,” “Ice Age 2: The Meltdown,” “Rio,” “Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs,” “Horton Hears a Who,” “Ice Age 4: Continental Drift” and “The Peanuts Movie.” During a virtual presentation, he spoke with students about his career journey including how he studied illustration and film in college and how he got into the business. Dunnigan explained the wide variety of roles that an illustrator can have in an animated film or series including character design, environment design, color design, prop design, special effects design and more. He also showed examples of storyboards he has worked on and what the final result looked like in the finished scenes.

Throughout the presentation, students asked him questions and when asked what qualities are important to have as someone working in the entertainment industry, Dunnigan said, “Being able to work alongside other people and artists because filmmaking is like a team sport. We’re all working to make something together and it’s like we’re putting all of our superpowers together to make it the best that it can be and to tell a good story.” He also emphasized that it’s important to learn from other people in the field as you’re gaining hands-on experience. “With any vocation that you choose, there will be people better than you but you can learn from them. As you work on more projects, you will understand the language of filmmaking,” he explained.

Film Study: The Poet Behind the Lens is a new, semester-long elective taught by TZHS English teacher Michael Matulac. This course will help students become critical evaluators of film and screen content as they study and analyze cinematic techniques used by filmmakers and will learn to recognize this “eye of the poet” by reading films as they would texts, analyzing each work for elements such as character, conflict and theme.