From the big screen to ‘Smallville’

Ever since he was younger, Phillip Hall dreamed of becoming an animator and bringing characters to life. His dream came true when he finally broke into the animation industry after winning a competition. But as he sat in his office at Blue Sky Studios working on the latest "Ice Age" movie, a sudden "shift" in his spirit provoked him to consider a new career path - teaching.

During March 2009, Hall felt God calling him to a new career. He found a job posting in the digital media arts program at Huntington University. After asking himself if he would want to move out to Indiana, Hall prayed about the decision.

"I trusted God would see to it that both (Huntington University and myself) would be taken care of," Hall said.

Hall declined the position back in 2009, feeling the timing was not right for him to make the move. However, thanks to the persistence of Huntington University's faculty and dean, Hall reconsidered. This time, he agreed to join the faculty as the assistant professor of digital media arts so that he could use his experiences to prepare students for what they can expect after graduation and in the business.

"I had a difficult time getting into the industry," Hall said. "I handed out demo reels and received rejection letters. You don't get a job because you have a degree. I don't want my students to graduate with a degree they can't use."

Hall earned his bachelor's degree from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale in Florida and his master's degree from Miami International University of Art and Design in Florida. He worked on films such as "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs," "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel" and "Yogi Bear."

"I want to connect with the (animation) industry more and bridge the gap between Huntington and the industry. Another focus will be learning how to get HU's film department's name out there and promote ourselves," Hall said.
And current DMA faculty members are eager to see what Hall will bring to the table.

"Phil can help us take it to the next level and give us a fresh perspective (with his experience)," said Dr. Lance Clark, associate professor of DMA, film and communications.

Hall teaches in the newly-renovated Becker Hall and looks forward to molding and expanding the DMA program with the new resources available to the department. Thanks to renovations funded by Together: The Campaign for Huntington University, DMA students are now able to edit their film projects in the editing suites, watch and critique current student films in the 35-seat screening room, and design and create sounds in the foley lab. Another bonus is the new operational elevator located in the center of Becker Hall.

Aside from missing friends and the beach back in California, Hall is excited to share his experiences and knowledge of the animation industry with his students.

"Imagine where Clark Kent grew up and that's where I am," Hall said. "The strength here is in the relationships between people. It's like 'Smallville' here."