Eric Darnell was a screenwriter, animator and director, who was best known for co-directing the animated hits "Antz" (1998) and "Madagascar" (2005) for DreamWorks Animation. Born and raised in the small town of Prairie Village, Kansas, Darnell always aspired to work in entertainment. He wrote for his school newspaper, <i>The Harbinger</i>, during high school, and went on to earn a degree in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Colorado at Boulder. After college, however, Darnell switched his focus to filmmaking and over the next four years he started directing short experimental films in his basement. His shorts featured absurdist characters and difficult, oftentimes meandering plots, but the films were good enough to earn Darnell a spot at California Institute of the Arts' experimental animation program. It was there that Darnell honed his skills as an animator, while immersing himself in the burgeoning field of computer animation. Darnell's skill level as a computer animator proved so advanced that in 1991 he was hired to animate and direct commercials for the groundbreaking Northern California-based animation production company, Pacific Data Images (PDI). Darnell spent the next four years at PDI, winning awards and accolades for directing the animated short, "Gas Planet" (1992), but in 1995 he left the company to work for the newly opened DreamWorks Animation. Shortly after, Darnell was picked to co-direct, along with Tim Johnson, DreamWorks' first animated film, "Antz." The film was a huge hit at the box office, establishing Darnell as a hot young director to watch. However, it would be another seven years before his directorial follow-up, "Madagascar," hit theaters. In addition to co-directing "Madagascar" with Tom McGrath, Darnell also co-wrote the movie, which featured voice-over roles by Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, and David Schwimmer. "Madagascar" proved to be an even bigger hit than "Antz," earning over $500 million at the box office, and spawning a billion dollar franchise that includes two sequels, "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa" (2008) and "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted" (2012), as well as a spin-off film, "Penguins of Madagascar," which was released in November of 2014. In addition to co-directing "Penguins of Madagascar," Darnell received his first producer credit on the film.