The Hero’s Journey of Dominick Domingo

What is the thing that I love most about my work? As a Disney Feature Animation artist-turned-live action filmmaker and author, I identify as a ‘Storyteller,’ first and foremost. What I love about storytelling is its dual function as self-expression and contribution. It’s both self-serving (as catharsis) and selfless in that it impacts others. I love that I get to connect my craft with a sense of purpose and contribute to our collective evolution. I believe 100% we are a product of the stories we are exposed to in life—more so than propaganda, persuasion, or political rhetoric, that narrative will always trump the didactic when it comes to personal transformation. For that reason, as corny as it sounds, I am inspired by the prospect of ‘changing minds by touching hearts’ and by extension, changing the world!

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What is my idea of happiness? Inner peace and wellbeing, sprinkled with moments, however fleeting, of bliss! Laughter is good. Feeling connected. Belonging. Feeling safe.

What is my greatest fear? Operating from a place of fear! Possibly the tug of chaos, futility and forces of entropy.

What is the trait that I most deplore in myself? Any self-loathing tendencies or internalized negative self-messaging I’ve not been able to overcome!

Which living persons in my profession do I most admire? Many of my muses and influences are in the ground. But among the living: Filmmakers: Alfonso Cuaron, Pedro Almodovar, Lars Von Trier, Sabierti, Robert Altman, Robert Redford. Writers: Neil Gaiman, David Sedaris, Juno Diaz, Augusten Burroughs, Annie Prioux, Dave Rothbury.

What is my greatest extravagance? I spend too much on caffeinated beverages. Placing little value on the material, I have probably been impractical (not prudent enough) in the area of spending too much on others, self-funding vanity projects, and on travel.

On what occasion would I lie? Probably to spare the feelings of another. But it would probably be a lie of omission. In the same way I see little reason to ‘disagree’ as everything definitive is a matter of perspective combined with semantics, I don’t feel the need to ‘lie.’ Instead, I tend to editorially choose what to voice and what not to! Hee hee! I try to ‘own’ any skeletons I may have in my closet and am well aware that any judgments about another I choose to withhold are ‘just my opinion’ and not the ultimate truth, anyway.

What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work? More in my illustration than in my writing: falling back on old, familiar tendencies by default in lieu of breaking new ground. I also sometimes lament how all-consuming illustration can be. Mainly when I forget to eat.

When and where was I the happiest, in my work? In my writing: NOW! Very fulfilled by how my voice has evolved authentically and become seamlessly connected with my sense of purpose. How the truth (good, bad and ugly) I am now able to tell is no longer theoretical but informed by the life experience only a quinquagenarian can draw on! In Illustration: when I was high on the hog making big bucks at Disney (on Lion King, Pocahontas, Hunchback, Tarzan, all the 2D classics) while learning and growing every day, surrounded by inspiring artwork and storytelling and collaborating with the most highly evolved humans I’ve ever had the good fortune to encounter. We truly were a family.

If I could, what would I change about myself? I’d get rid of my freckles.

What is my greatest achievement in work? Superficial legacy-wise, my accolades: the success of the Disney classics I worked on, the legacy of having founded the Entertainment Track at my Alma Mater—Art Center—as well as the critical acclaim and awards my films, essays and short stories have garnered. Spiritual legacy-wise, the most rewarding moments for me are hearing I have had an impact in my twenty years of teaching or made a difference somehow in another’s growth. Those rare moments when a loved one or a complete stranger (usually a grown man in an Uber who says Lion King was his favorite film ‘as a child’) lets me know they were touched, moved, enlightened, provoked, or inspired by my work.

Where would I most like to live? Somewhere tropical with white sand, turquoise water and temperate weather. But there would have to be access to French cuisine and culture! Not sure where that is—still researching.

What is my most treasured possession? Being a minimalist without a single materialistic bone in my body, my prized possessions are a John Watkiss original I own, two landscapes I was gifted by a dear friend who walks on water to me, and a beautiful nude gifted to me by another artist I worship; I also happen to love the model who is the subject! Double whammy! Finally, the traditional background painting desk (based on Disney’s proprietary patent) I was able to commission when I was making bank in animation. Though it was partially damaged in a fire, my father took it home in secret (rather than transporting it to the landfill as promised) and brought it back from the dead—every charred section of wood, each laminate, finish, and fixture. Ultimately, when he surprised me with it, it was like new and meant even more to me for his diligence and devotion!

What is my most marked characteristic? I tells it like it is. I have no choice; I’m Italian. Also, my crooked nose. Small from one side, enormous from the other.

What is my most inspirational location, in my city? Tough one. L.A. is so geographically immense and spread out that I have often said: unlike other cities, there are ‘several’ downtowns and ‘several’ garment districts or jewelry districts, skid rows, restaurant rows, etc. When international visitors ask me to play tour guide I often respond with the question ‘Which L.A. would you like to see?’ It has many faces and is akin to a Rorschach test. Like life, it’s what you make of it! So I’m going to fall back on this: after selling my home in Montrose, I settled into the Los Feliz/Franklin Hills neighborhood of L.A. and have been here for twenty-plus years. Though it’s a bit overrun with hipsters and yuppies at the moment, it’s largely populated by creatives: artists, screenwriters and actors. Legend has it creative types are drawn to hilly areas, and it proves true in my neighborhood. Considering L.A. is a fairly new city, my neighborhood boasts much historic lore (its roots lying in the bohemian silent film community long before Hollywood existed) and lots of charming vintage architecture overgrown with greenery! Around every corner is a well-kept secret—a former residence of Judy Garland or the bridge built so actress Norma Talmadge could make it to the Paramount set on time with no excuses, the estate of a Transylvanian consulate or any number of former monasteries and nunneries! Second place winner: I also love the architecture in Pasadena, my college town!

What is my favorite place to eat and drink, in my city? All my favorite eateries change over the years because no one can afford the rent. I would have said at one time: Bistro 45 and the Raymond Estate.

What books influenced my life and how? Too many to count. Everything that has held my attention enough to finish has shaped me somehow, including the classics I was forced to read in school. I am influenced to this day by children’s classics by everyone from Dr. Seuss and Notron Juster to Roald Dahl and Exupery (Le Petit Prince) to C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein. In the literary realm, I grew up on (and loved) Emile Bronte’s Wuthering Heights and Dickens’s Great Expectations, Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Irving’s The Scarlett Letter. I loved Cooper’s Last of the Mohicans, Melville, Jules Verne, Poe, Faulkner and Hemingway. In sci-fi, I am more Bradbury (a big influence) than Asimov. Strangely, my writing is largely influenced by theater/playwrites—from the Greek tragedies through Shakespeare to Chekov, Arthur Miller, Oscar Wilde and one of my biggest influences, Tennessee Williams. The common thread throughout all seems to be the succinct approximation of the human condition, the keen understanding of behavior/psychology, and themes (often before their time) to do with entanglement and interconnectedness. I am haunted by the nearly prophetic intuitive understanding of epigenetics and manifestation in works like The Scarlett Letter and Wuthering Heights long before science confirmed the authors’ hunches. When it comes to transformational books (like I am writing now) I am a fan of Paul Coelho’s The Alchemist, and much of Mitch Albom’s and Dan Millman’s work.

What role does art play in my life and work? To me, the arts are what redeem life. They are the ‘why’ part of the existence equation. Beauty, truth, and meaning elevate us from subsistence to thriving, and are crucial to our evolution. We learn through the conflict resolution inherent in storytelling. Further, it’s pretty clear the creative process is integral to and synonymous with being human. For a myriad of reasons: to forge permanence and leave a mark, to hold up a mirror to society and take its temperature to help forge our evolution. That which does not evolve becomes extinct; it is no different for invisibles like our morals, ethics, codes, values, and thought forms—in short, our consciousness. Creativity is no small thing in my world—it is my religion. Nothing lofty about it…it’s everywhere. The creative process (conception, germination, inspiration, execution) is how we all got here. Every material percept began as an immaterial concept. Arguably, it’s how the universe got here—that mysterious leap from wave to particle. Sooo…in my world, there is nothing more divine one can engage in than the act of creation. I live and breathe it like air. Again—nothing lofty or elitist here. We all engage in creative acts everyday, only the miracle goes unrecognized! If anything, I am awed by the creative process itself, rather than professing any ‘talent’or assigning importance to what I do. I just feel blessed to be able to engage in it and am eternally fascinated by how it functions on the intuitive level.

What do the words ‘You are the storyteller of your own life’ to me? Everything. I could write a book about it—and have! In my youth, born with no silver spoon in my mouth, I learned to make lemonade of lemons. I identified as an ‘overcomer,’ and later, an alchemist. As I manifested good things in my life, I felt I was co-creating intuitively with the universe, in sync with it. But as Paul Coelho suggests in The Alchemist, the phenomenon of ‘beginners luck’ ensures that the universe conspires with those who abide their ‘personal legend’ (what many refer to as a calling.) Well, my ‘beginners’ luck ran out over time, and I lost the alchemy that had defined my youth. My journey has been to reclaim my powers of self-creation, sometimes in defiance of fate itself. I put my spiritual journey on the front burner and began investigating, connecting dots, learning as much as I could about the mechanics of manifestation. Connecting dots between my understanding of quantum physics and holistic health and the Law of Attraction. A recent brush with death, a prolonged hospital stay, and a list of diagnoses that read like War and Peace culminated in being discharged with a shiny new HIV/AIDS diagnosis and a life that bore no resemblance to the one I’d known before. Simply put, the journey to reclaiming my powers of self-creation have to do with relearning self-love. I have always written about the interaction between free will, fate/destiny, and seeming randomness. But the idea of self-creation in defiance of fate is really on my radar at the moment. Writing one’s own next chapter in the hero’s journey. Movies like Moonlight and Elton John’s biopic really spoke to me as being in touch with my own mortality has really upped the stakes. So I put everything I learned into a Mythic Fiction parable of what I’ve been through, titled, The Seeker.

Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime? My parents are beyond proud. When I took them to New York for the Pocahontas opening in the park, my mom spotted The Art of Pocahontas book at an outdoor vendor’s booth. She insisted on embarrassing me and I ended up standing there signing books for twenty minutes. Oh, and did I mention those grown men in Ubers?  As far as ‘sponsors,’ I wish I had a patron or a financier (read: rich uncle) to finance my films! Have never had that. At the moment, my creative partner in crime is my dear sister, herself a writer and Creativity coach. In addition to our shared religion of Creativity, we have a wonderful writing group of two. We fancy ourselves Rilke and Kappus (Letters to a Young Poet) in our correspondences. We regularly provide mutual feedback, critique one another’s work, and keep one another inspired! It’s a true gift!

Which people or companies would I like to work with in 2020? I would kill or die to work with Laika as I so admire their nonlinear storytelling sense, their aesthetic, brand and overall sensibility. But the prospect has evaded me thus far. I have a slate of IPs, with differing degrees of momentum. One in particular is an animated series I developed for Toonz NZ that lost its public funding. I own the IP, and am ready to pitch it around town. In the past, I have had exec Producers who were also agents, and they secured our pitch meetings. This time around, the agent for whom I am currently a ‘hip pocket client’ has proven not particularly good at getting those pitch meetings. Would love to run the Sizzle piece and pitch bible by Laika, Netflix, (working on it but as yet a mystery) Pearl Animation or any acquisition folks with access to funding for animation.

Would love to meet/be mentored by Ryan Murphy. I was runner-up for the ABC/DGA film fellowship but that has been my only brush with live action television.

Since you ask, in the literary realm, I am published many times over—by both small indie publishers (as opposed to the ‘Big 5.’) as well as being included in anthologies. But it has all been due to my own efforts. I have yet to land representation. If you know of any magic trick for an award-winning author to land the right agent with access to the Big Five, I would love an introduction:  Penguin/Random House, Hachette Book Group, Harper Collins, Simon and Schuster, Macmillan.

What project, in 2020, am I looking forward to work on? I look forward to launching my Mythic/Visionary fiction novel The Seeker, while developing the animated properties I mentioned earlier (The Legend of Loch Ness and the animated series The Wellingtons.) Hand-in-hand with The Seeker, I plan to do the lecture circuit in the Transformational/Visionary fiction world and share my story of transformation. Toward that end, I am taking steps to put branding on the front burner and continue to build my platform via social media presence. I am doing more and more readings, launches, guest blogs, radio talk interviews, blog radio appearances, podcasts, etc.

Where can you see me or my work in 2020? Please follow and/or ‘like’:


Online portfolio:



FB Author Page:

Goodreads Author Page:

LinkedIn Profile:


To book me for a podcast:

To book me for a speaking engagement:

What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me? When one loves one’s craft, all work is ‘inspired work’ rather than drudgery. It gives as much or more than it takes. It is a life force, as strong as the will to live!

Which creative heroes should Peter invite to tell their story?

René Urbanovich, author and Creativity Expert/Coach

Brian Thompson, Art Director at Big Fish Games

Tina Price, former Disney animator and founder of CTN, the largest animation expo in the world:

How can you contact me?

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