If you ask award-winning animator and filmmaker Sarah Mercey what drew her to animation, she becomes as alive as the many scenes she’s helped create over the years. To Sarah, animation is the ultimate marriage between theatre and visual art. It’s a medium that exposes truths about the human condition and celebrates the best moments in life with all the cast of characters, and often songs, of classic Hollywood productions or Broadway musicals.
This personal outlook is one that Mercey has held since she was a child and has rung more true to her now as a director, writer, actress, storyboard artist, and one of the country’s most uniquely experienced film and animation professionals working today.
Growing up in the small town of Elmira, Ontario, Sarah was influenced by the magic of film from a very young age. Films like E.T., Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, The Sound of Music, and Aladdin helped her escape the small-town life into the wilds of her imagination. After graduating high school she enrolled as a student at Sheridan College’s Classical Animation program, where her final showcase film immediately caught the eye of recruiters from multiple studios including Disney, who invited her to submit a portfolio. Out of thousands of applicants, Mercey was one of fourteen people offered a job at the Magic Kingdom.
By 1997 she was living the dream in Florida during one of the industry’s biggest boom periods for animation, working as a clean-up artist and in-betweener for such legendary films as MULAN, EMPEROR’S NEW GROOVE, LILO & STITCH, and TARZAN. Mercey’s first full animator credit arrived in 2003 for BROTHER BEAR before she eventually traded her pencil for a computer by working as an animator at Pixar in 2004. Her skills as an artist and animator were brought on for such highly influential films as CARS, RATATOUILLE, TOY STORY 3, and WALL-E. She even had the pleasure of working with the minds at Walt Disney Imagineering for ride development and park and design for Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, and Disney Cruise Line.
Eventually in 2010 Mercey returned home to Canada, a move made more comfortable with the ability to work with American studios remotely while being closer to her family. Her directorial debut kicked off in 2012 with THE MAGIC HOCKEY SKATES, based on the book by Allen Morgan and Michael Martchenko. The special aired on CBC to critical acclaim, including the win of a Canadian Screen Award for Best Direction in an Animated Program or Series.
After the success of The Magic Hockey Skates, Mercey continued to grow and thrive as an artist of many talents. She went to New York to study acting at The Conservatory at the Tom Todoroff Studio, started writing and illustrating a children’s book, spoke at a number of events as a leader in her field, and continued to work developing stories and storyboards for some of the world’s leading animation studios including Blue Sky Studios and Skydance Animation. Currently, she has been storyboarding for Paramount Animation, with highly anticipated films such as RUMBLE and THE TIGER’S APPRENTICE due for release soon.
Sarah has built her life around telling stories and throughout her career, she has been fortunate to participate in some that will continue to inspire generations for years to come.
But the thing about stories is that there’s always more to share, and with her trademark excitement and boundless creativity, Sarah Mercey is ready to tell them.