Mark Dannelly Q & A

 ALEX: What turns you on creatively?

MARK: I guess I really like when I get a chance to work with something that is near and dear to my heart. When I already have an interest in a subject and get the opportunity to be on the early stages of design where nothing is off the table and you get to explore something you love with no restrictions.

ALEX: Knowing how every piece of show automation, rigging system, and other theatrical wizardry works must dull the senses over time. What still makes you gasp for air? What’s the latest art piece, show, etc. that has impressed you? 

MARK:  Beautiful thing about what we do is that there is always something new. There is always the bleeding edge of technology. The latest, greatest new contraption. The latest thing to impress me isn’t necessarily show related, but the robots Boston Dynamics have been creating are both scary and awesome. 

ALEX: Why do you do what you do?

MARK: I enjoy the challenge of designing complex technical elements for themed environments because I am constantly creating things that haven’t been built yet. I am not retreading familiar territory, each day I am faced with a unique set of challenges that I need to apply real world technology to and use my technical background to come up with unique solutions that work in show conditions. 

ALEX: If you could only offer one piece of advice for the next person in line, what would it be?

MARK:  Your job isn’t to find the cheapest solution or the simplest solution or the easiest solution, your job is to find the solution that protects the idea and works within the project’s constraints the best.  

ALEX: When you are alone, completely relaxed, and not thinking about work, what do you spend your thoughts on?

MARK:  I think I’m most relaxed when I get the chance to get outdoors, and rather than contemplate anything specific just enjoy the moment. Too often I find myself looking 10 steps ahead, so it’s nice to just unplug, relax, and live in the now.

ALEX: What was your first inspirational piece of art? Any medium, any genre. What was the ‘first moment’ you realized you were looking at a piece of art and how did it inspire you? How old were you?

MARK: I grew up in the golden age of Jim Henson when you couldn’t turn on the TV without seeing his work. The combination of his artistic vision and innate sense of humor were the first things to spark that creative flame in me.

ALEX: Coming from the mid-west I imagine you had a very different upbringing from what you’ve settled into here in LA. What personality trait associated with the midwest would you say has helped you in the entertainment industry?

MARK:  Dogged determination. The resilience to keep going in adverse circumstances and make the best out of a situation. 

ALEX:  I’ve always been fascinated by Mike Rowe and his ‘Dirty Jobs’ show. What profession have you always been tempted to try even though it might be completely out of your wheelhouse?

MARK:  I think I have actually worked on one of Mike Row’s dirty jobs in the past, there was a stint in a scrap yard. I’d be tempted to own/operate a food truck or small restaurant, a la Bob’s Burgers. I have no experience in restaurant management, but I love cooking. And eating.

ALEX: What’s your spirit animal?

MARK:  Crow. Problem solvers. Critical thinkers, curious, mischievous.

ALEX: What is your meaning for life?

MARK:  Life is about experiences, both personal and especially shared. 

ALEX:In the beautiful styling of James Lipton’s immaculate questionnaire based, in part, on the Proust Questionnaire, what is your favorite curse word?

MARK:  F-bombs all day. My favorite silly curse word is asshat, my favorite curse word substitute is simply yelling “biscuits!”