From "Goof Off" to "Barnyard": One Director's Animated Rise
- Thursday, July 27, 2006
Annabelle: Where did you grow up?
Steve: Huntington Beach, CA.
Annabelle: Were you a surfer?
Steve: I was the rebellious kid. So I guess I didn’t surf, because everyone else was surfing. I was playing basketball and tennis.
Annabelle: When did you decide that you wanted to be a filmmaker, and how’d you go about doing that?
Steve: I wanted to do what I called “entertainment.” I was six or seven and I didn’t even know what it meant, but I wanted to do it – much to the chagrin of my teachers. College schmallage. I often say I wasn’t around until I was 20. Not unlike “Barnyard,” which was a mirror of my life, I literally just wanted to goof off. I thought that was everything. When I was about 20, I started getting those pings from God. I don’t know how else to describe it. Your conscience just gets a little louder. You start thinking about what matters, and what matters to others. I was raised Catholic and went to Catholic school for 12 years. My mother was very devout, she was always praying for us, and wanted the best for us. So that’s when I started off the relationship that I’m still trying not to wreck.
Annabelle: So you’re a Christian?
Steve: Yes, definitely. But I don’t read the Bible every day. It’s the rule that works every time, but I don’t always do it. I mean, there are times when I read the Bible every day, but it’s in waves. I think that God’s always rolling his eyes at me. I’m there, everything’s going fantastic, then I go ‘Okay, God, I got it. Watch me do this – it’s going to be fantastic!’ Then I realize I have to read the Bible every day. I think I’m this problem child.
Annabelle: How’d you get into filmmaking?
Steve: I didn’t make any plans. I went to Golden West Junior College, playing tennis every day, which was a lot easier than at my high school, Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana. I actually got “indefinite detention,” where they just put me in detention for the rest of the year. I never did anything bad-bad. I was just cracking up and making jokes all the time. So I was at junior college and they had this talent show and I thought I would write four minutes of stand-up comedy. It was just a moment where I went, “Okay, that’s it!”
Annabelle: So it went well?
Steve: It went over really well, so I quit school and my job the next day. When you see “Barnyard,” you’ll see the lighter version of that. But basically that was my relationship with my dad, him going, “What are you doing?” while I’m laying in the back yard on a lounge chair writing jokes.
Annabelle: But isn’t stand-up comedy about life? What does a 20-year-old know about life?
Steve: I’m the master of being able to get a laugh out of nothing. I mean, some of my stuff is “Patch Adams” and “Ace Ventura,” but a lot of it was just inane, silly stuff. I was going through all of this turmoil at home. I was going to be the bum, and I was really confident in what I was going to do, and for whatever reason, I can’t tell you why, I picked up a Bible and started flipping through it. I wasn’t reading it in any kind of respectful way – I was just cruising through it. My dad had been filling my head with all this stuff, “What are you going to do? When are you going to get a job?” and I came across that passage where it says, “Don’t worry about the clothes you’re going to wear. Just put your trust in God.” I said, “That can’t be true.” So I decided that I was going to follow it to the letter and prove it wasn’t true. And all I can say is, cut to this day, and I can’t even begin to tell you all the things that happened in my life that proved it to be true.
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