Dean DeBlois (/dəˈblwɑː/; born 7 June 1970) is a Canadian film director, film producer, screenwriter, and animator. He is best known for co-writing and co-directing the Oscar-nominated animated films Lilo & Stitch for Walt Disney Animation Studios, the How to Train Your Dragon film trilogy for DreamWorks Animation, and directed the documentary Heima about the Icelandic band Sigur Rós.
DeBlois was born in Brockville, Ontario, and raised in Aylmer, Quebec, Canada. As a boy he was interested in comic books, which he later said influenced his drawing ability, imagination and storytelling. Growing up poor, he would visit a nearby a smoke shop on weekends, where the proprietor let him read comics for free. Memorizing them, he went home and drew.
DeBlois began his career as an assistant animator and layout artist for Hinton Animation Studios/Lacewood Productions in Ottawa, Ontario, while simultaneously attending Sheridan College's three year Classical Animation program in Oakville, Ontario. From 1988 to 1990, DeBlois contributed to such productions as The Raccoons (TV series), The Teddy Bears' Picnic (TV special), and The Nutcracker Prince (feature animated film).
Upon graduation from Sheridan College in 1990, DeBlois was hired by Sullivan Bluth Studios in Dublin, Ireland. There, he worked as a layout artist, character designer, and storyboard assistant to Don Bluth on such feature animated films as A Troll in Central Park and Thumbelina.
In 1994, DeBlois left Dublin for Los Angeles to begin work for Walt Disney Feature Animation as a storyboard artist, where he soon replaced his frequent collaborator, Chris Sanders, as Head of Story on Mulan. Shortly thereafter, they re-teamed to create Lilo & Stitch.
Following its release in 2002, DeBlois sold several original live action feature film projects to write, direct, and produce, including an Irish ghost story (The Banshee and Finn Magee), a psychological thriller (The Lighthouse), and a family adventure series (Sightings), set-up at Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, and Universal Studios respectively.
DeBlois' feature length music documentary film Heima chronicles the homecoming concert of Iceland's Sigur Rós.
In October 2008, DeBlois returned to feature animation to co-write and co-direct DreamWorks Animation's then-troubled How to Train Your Dragon, once again re-teaming with Sanders. The duo re-envisioned the film's story and shepherded the production to its March 2010 release. The resulting film became the studio's top-grossing film in North America outside of the Shrek franchise.
During that same time, DeBlois also directed another feature-length music film for Sigur Rós front-man Jónsi, entitled Go Quiet, as well as a feature length concert film entitled Jónsi: Live at The Wiltern.
DeBlois wrote and directed the fantasy/action film How to Train Your Dragon 2, a sequel to the original, which was released on June 13, 2014.