Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Remembering Pres

Pres at DreamWorks. Photo: Tim Hodge
Pres Romanillos died three years ago today, on July 17th, 2010, after a long battle with Leukemia. He was an excellent animator, a supremely talented artist and a natural performer. His credits at the Disney Studio included Aladdin, Pocahontas, and Hunchback of Notre Dame. He was the lead animator on the villain Shan-Yu on Mulan. Later, at DreamWorks, he was responsible for the character of Little Creek on Spirit - Stallion of the Cimarron.

I first met Pres while working Pocahontas, his first assignment as an animator, and one of my first. Later, he was one of the first artists to leave Disney and join Jeffrey Katzenberg in his new venture at DreamWorks, down the road from the Disney Studios on Flower St. I joined Pres at DreamWorks in 1998, working on The Road to El Dorado and, later, on Spirit.

Pres fitted in well at DreamWorks. He seemed to know everyone and, as one of the early hires, Pres was one of the few of us animators who seemed to have a personal bond with Jeffrey. By the time I got there, the company was already too big for the boss to know everyone individually.

Pres had a huge passion for the medium. I remember him calling me into his office while we were working on Spirit, to show me an animation test he had done on Little Creek. It was the first shot which really nailed his character, capturing the enthusiasm and the spirit of the young Native American. Pres was thrilled - and I was a little bit jealous. It was beautiful animation. I made some minor criticisms of it which I later regretted - it was perfect. No changes needed.

Pres was very popular. In 2010, when his Leukemia came back, Guild President Kevin Koch organised a fund raiser, Pres Aid, to help defray the horrendous costs of medical treatment. Lots of folks gave generously, and an auction of artwork raised a good deal of money.

In the end he lost his battle with Leukemia. But you can still see his work in the many films he worked on. And, you can still enjoy his very entertaining cartoon blog: "Life as a Pickle," based on the many pets he and his wife Jeannine had rescued and looked after at their home, most notably the eponymous Pickle, a rat terrier.

Pres, we remember you.



  1. A wonderful tribute, Alex. Thank you.

  2. Great memories of a great man. Thanks Alex!

  3. I didnt know about his passing. Nice memories of a fantastic animator.

  4. I heard of his passing three yrs ago. We were classmates in 4th grade at PS 89 Queens NY. He was a brilliant student. RIP my friend.