WILLOW ROAD ANIMATION
Growing up in an eccentric and large family, brother and sister, Zach Shelton and Melissa Hensley, were always looking for creative ways to share their family stories. Melissa expressed her passion through fine art and dance while Zach immersed himself into a world of video games and animation. In 2006, when they were both living in Brooklyn, NY, Melissa and Zach decided to put their talents together to create Willow Road Animation. Named after a street Zach grew up on in San Diego, CA, Willow Road Animation gives breath and movement to the art of life.
When Zach met his future wife, Susan Pickover, in 2007 they had an instant partnership in life, love and business. Susan's film production and business background brought a needed structure to Willow Road Animation. As producer Susan has been able to take on the business aspects of production while Zach and Melissa concentrate on the creation of beautiful and interesting pieces of moving art.
Growing up in San Diego, California Zach could have spent his youth sunning and surfing. Instead he found joy in playing video games, reading comics, watching movies and obsessing over Saturday morning cartoons. Zach started learning about technology from a very early age and spent countless hours constructing his own computers. After studying animation at Mesa College in San Diego, Zach moved to New York City. It was in NY that his passion for animation grew. He started working for a variety of commercial production houses and animation studios. Zach's desire to tell his own stories prompted the creation of Willow Road Animation along side his sister Melissa. Zach enjoys working in both 2D and 3D animation and has found a particular success in creating motion comics. His friendship and working relationship with Jan Lucanus of Creative Impulse Entertainment has lead to Zach's latest accolades. The JFH: Justice For Hire motion comic has won Willow Road 3 coveted animation awards in the past 12 months.
Melissa was born with the passion and talent of a true artist. At 9 years of age she started dance training at The Civic Youth Ballet in San Diego. Melissa went on to study fine art and ballet at The School of Creative and Performing Arts. She became a professional ballerina at 16 years old and has danced on some of the finest stages in the country. The California Ballet, Stage 7, Spindle City Ballet, Festival Ballet, New Port Ballet, and Cadence Dance Project to name just a few. Since retiring from the grueling world of ballet Melissa has concentrated on her fine art. From paintings to cut paper puppets Melissa has shown art at the White Mule Art Gallery and The New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City and The Proteus Gowanus Art Gallery in Brooklyn, New York. After living all around the country Melissa now finds her inspiration at home in the heart of San Diego, California.
Susan started working in film production at the young age of 19 while balancing college in New Jersey and an internship at a commercial production house in New York City. By the time she graduated from Rutger's University she was already working as a production coordinator on various national commercials for companies such as Victoria's Secret, Revlon and Playtex. Susan also worked on a number of television shows and documentaries before putting production on hold to pursue textile design at The Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC. Find Susan's design work at pickoverdesigns.com. In her free time Susan can be found performing and coaching improv. She thinks she is funny!