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From animation to the stage

'Shrek' art director's recent projects include 'Tangled' and stage play 'Much Ado About Nothing.'

November 16, 2010|By Stan Wawer
  • Douglas Rogers is the concept desinger for Disney Imagineering and has done development and identity design for "Shrek," "The Princess and the Frog" and the upcoming movie "Tangled."
Douglas Rogers is the concept desinger for Disney Imagineering… (Tim Berger/Staff…)

For Glendale resident Douglas Rogers, life took an animated turn in 1998 when he was hired as art director for "Shrek."

"I had come to Los Angeles to do 'Othello' at the Shakespeare Festival. Jeffrey Katzenburg (producer of 'Shrek' and DreamWorks chief executive) was looking for someone who thought outside the box because at that time only 'Toy Story' had been made. I went over to DreamWorks and they showed me this 22-second test," Rogers said.

"I realized what they were showing me was a new medium. I thought to myself, 'When am I going to be at the edge of a new medium?' It was like someone had shown me color, or they had shown me sound. They wanted some help developing castles. Where else are you going to get to do a castle?"

Rogers, who has a bachelor of fine arts degree from Baylor University and a master of fine arts from Yale University's School of Drama, says it was fate that brought him to California where he ended up working on "Shrek."

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"I was supposed to go back to New York to do an opera," Rogers said. "I just said, 'No, I'm not going to do that. I'm going to do this because I think this is going to be really wonderful.' And then I met Jeffrey. He was a high-energy guy. I thought, wow, if Jeffrey Katzenburg and Steven Spielberg and David Geffen think this is a good thing, then I want to be involved with this."

As art director, Rogers traveled the world for artistic inspiration for the locations in "Shrek." His travels took him to England's Warwick Castle, Stratford Upon Avon, Canterbury and a town called Rye, as well as Hearst Castle and Solvang.

"I can tell you that the town of Duloc is based on Solvang," Rogers said.

However, his work as a designer has been diverse, encompassing several mediums, including designing the location for Disney's "Tangled," which opens in 3-D on Nov. 24, and art director for Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing," opening Dec. 1 at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City.

Rogers is now a concept designer for Disney Imagineering in Burbank. In 2009 his work as visual development set designer can be seen in Disney's "The Princess and the Frog." In 2007, he worked on "Bee Movie," his sixth film for DreamWorks, for which he did development and identity design.

"I also did the historical research for the architecture and also for costuming," he said. "I work with the character designers. Although I didn't design the characters, I have a heavy input on what perhaps they're wearing."

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