To Be Seen in 2017

Animation Magazine - - Front Page - The Jun­gle Book

Strap in to our time-trav­el­ing an­i­ma­tion DeLorean for a light­speed look at the the­atri­cal of­fer­ings that will re­ally rev your en­gine next year.

Yu-Gi-Oh! The Dark Side of Di­men­sion [4K Me­dia | Screen­vi­sion Me­dia] Di­rec­tor: Satoshi Kuwabara | Yugi Muto, Seto Kaiba, Joey, Tris­tan, Tea and Bakura re­turn in an all­new orig­i­nal ad­ven­ture from se­ries cre­ator Kazuki Taka­hashi. Dan Green and Eric Stu­art reprise their roles as Yugi and Seto for the English ver­sion. Jan. 20 (lim­ited). Trailer: https://youtu.be/ L5hx5rvLUN8 The Red Tur­tle [Stu­dio Ghi­bli, Wild Bunch, Why Not Prod., Belvi­sion, Arte France, CN4, Prima Linea | Sony Pic­tures Clas­sics] Di­rec­tor: Michael Du­dok de Wit | When a stranded man at­tempts to es­cape his de­serted is­land, he is thwarted by a red sea tur­tle. But the mys­te­ri­ous crea­ture holds the key to the man’s lone­li­ness. Writ­ten by de Wit and Pas­cale Fer­ran. Jan. 20 (lim­ited). Trailer: https://youtu.be/4lwrzNqEUOM

The LEGO Bat­man Movie [An­i­mal Logic, DC Ent., WAG | Warner Bros.]

Di­rec­tor: Chris McKay | In or­der to save Gotham from takeover by The Joker, the vain­glo­ri­ous vig­i­lante minifig­ure must learn to work and play well with oth­ers. Will Ar­nett reprises his role as Bat­man, with Zach Gal­i­fi­anakis as The Joker, Jenny Slate, Ralph Fi­ennes, Michael Cera, Mariah Carey. Feb. 10.

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Rock Dog [Man­doo, Huayi Bros., Reel FX | Lionsgate] Di­rec­tor: Ash Bran­non | When a ra­dio falls from the sky into the hands of a young Ti­betan Mas­tiff, he dis­cov­ers a love for mu­sic and leaves his rural home to pur­sue his rock star dreams. Based on the graphic novel by Zheng Jun. Stars Luke Wil­son, Ed­die Iz­zard, J.K. Sim­mons, Lewis Black, Ke­nan Thomp­son, Mae Whit­man, Jorge Gar­cia, Matt Dil­lon, Sam El­liott. Feb. 24.

www.rock­dog­movie.com The Boss Baby [DreamWorks An­i­ma­tion | 20th Cen­tury Fox] Di­rec­tor: Tom McGrath | A busi­ness-savvy in­fant dons suit and brief­case, team­ing up with his 7-year-old brother to stop the schem­ing CEO of Puppy Co. Alec Bald­win stars as Baby, with Lisa Kudrow, Steve Buscemi, Jimmy Kim­mel and Miles Bak­shi; nar­rated by Pat­ton Oswalt. March 31.

Smurfs: The Lost Vil­lage [Sony Pic­tures An­i­ma­tion | Columbia] Di­rec­tor: Kelly As­bury | A mys­te­ri­ous map sends Smur­fette, Brainy, Clumsy and Hefty on a thrilling race through the mag­i­cal For­bid­den For­est to find an undis­cov­ered vil­lage be­fore the evil wiz­ard Gargamel gets to it. Stars Demi Lo­vato, Danny Pudi, Jack McBrayer, Joe Man­ganiello and Rainn Wil­son as Gargamel, with Bill Hader, Mandy Patinkin, Kee­gan-Michael Key. April 7.

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The Nut Job 2 [ToonBox Ent., Re­drover | Open Road Films]

Di­rec­tor: Cal Brunker | When Surly Squir­rel and his pals dis­cover the Mayor of Oak­ton is plan­ning a shady deal to re­de­velop their city park home, they unite with other ur­ban wildlife to stop him, his daugh­ter and a crazy an­i­mal con­trol of­fi­cer. Stars Will Ar­nett, Gabriel Igle­sias, Jeff Dun­ham, Kather­ine Heigl, Maya Ru­dolph and Jackie Chan. May 19. Cap­tain Un­der­pants [DreamWorks An­i­ma­tion, Scholas­tic Ent. | 20th Cen­tury Fox] Di­rec­tor: David Soren (un­con­firmed) | Based on the book by Dav Pilkey about two kids who play a hyp­no­tism prank on their mean prin­ci­pal, turn­ing him into their much more like­able comic-book hero, Cap­tain Un­der­pants. Stars Ed Helms as the Cap’n, Kevin Hart, Thomas Mid­dled­itch, Nick Kroll and Jor­dan Peele. June 2. Cars 3 [Pixar | Dis­ney] Di­rec­tor: Brian Fee | Now a vet­eran racer, Lightning Mc­Queen par­tic­i­pates in races at his­tor­i­cal tracks across Amer­ica with his new friend, Cruz Ramirez, new neme­sis, Jack­son Storm, and his old au­tomo-pals. Stars Owen Wil­son, Larry the Cable Guy, Bon­nie Hunt and Cheech Marin. June 16.

De­spi­ca­ble Me 3 [Il­lu­mi­na­tion Ent. | Uni­ver­sal Pic­tures] Direc­tors: Pierre Cof­fin & Kyle Balda, co-di­rec­tor Eric Guil­lon | Gru ex­pe­ri­ences some sib­ling ri­valry when his long lost twin — a lux­u­ri­ant blonde who fa­vors white duds over black — steps back into his life, and has to face a fear­some new vil­lain: a for­mer ’80s child star named Balt­hazar Bratt. Stars Steve Car­rell as Gru and Dru, Trey Parker as Balt­hazar, Mi­randa Cos­grove and Kris­ten Wiig. June 30. Blaz­ing Sa­mu­rai [Mass An­i­ma­tion, Cine­ma­tion, Jam Filled Toronto | Open Road Films] Direc­tors: Chris Bai­ley, Mark Koet­sier | Loosely in­spired by Blaz­ing Sad­dles, the story fol­lows a young dog named Hank who dreams of be­com­ing a sa­mu­rai and sav­ing the town of Kaka­mu­cho from the fe­line war­lord, Ika Chu. Stars Michael Cera as Hank, Ricky Ger­vais as Ika Chu, Sa­muel L. Jack­son, Michelle Yeoh, Mel Brooks and Ge­orge Takei. Aug. 4. www.blaz­ingsamu­rai.com Emo­ji­movie: Ex­press Your­self [Sony Pic­tures An­i­ma­tion | Columbia] Di­rec­tor: An­thony Leondis | Gene lives in the city of Tex­topo­lis with the rest of the phone’s emo­jis, but un­like them he can’t help but ex­press more than one emo­tion. De­ter­mined to be­come “nor­mal,” he sets out on a quest with his best friend Hi-5 and code whiz Jail­break, un­til a greater dan­ger threat­ens their dig­i­tal world. Stars T.J. Miller, James Cor­den and Ilana Glazer. Aug. 11. The LEGO Nin­jago Movie [An­i­mal Logic, LEGO, Lin Pics., Ver­tigo Ent.,

WAG | Warner Bros.] Di­rec­tor: Charlie Bean | Six teenage nin­jas tasked with de­fend­ing their is­land home face their great­est foe yet. Un­der the crotch­ety guid­ance of Sen­sei Wu, the crack squad of war­rior Master Builders set out to de­feat Lord Gar­madon, the Worst Guy Ever! Also, Green Ninja Lloyd’s dad! Stars Dave Franco, Justin Th­er­oux, Fred Ar­misen, Abbi Jacobson, Olivia Munn, Ku­mail Nan­jiani, Michael Peña, Zach Woods and Jackie Chan. Sept. 22. [Allspark Pics., DHX Me­dia, Has­bro Stu­dios

| Lionsgate] Di­rec­tor: Jayson Thiessen | When a dark force threat­ens Ponyville, the Mane 6 em­bark on an un­for­get­table jour­ney be­yond Eques­tria, meet new friends and use the magic of friend­ship and save their home. Stars Tara Strong, Ash­leigh Ball, An­drea Lib­man, Tabitha St. Ger­main, Cathy We­seluck, Emily Blunt, Liev Schreiber, Kristin Chenoweth, Michael Peña, Uzo Aduba, Taye Diggs and Sia. Oct. 6.

The Star [Sony Pic­tures An­i­ma­tion, The Jim Hen­son Co. | Sony Pic­tures] Di­rec­tor: Ti­mothy Reckart | This faith-based CG ad­ven­ture fol­lows a brave lit­tle don­key and his an­i­mal friends who be­come the un­sung he­roes of the first Christ­mas. Exec pro­duced by DeVon Franklin, Lisa Hen­son and Brian Hen­son, co­pro­duced by Jenni Magee Cook; writ­ten by Car­los Kotkin and Si­mon Moore. Nov. 10.

Coco [Pixar | Dis­ney] Di­rec­tor: Lee Unkrich | In­spired by the Día de los Muer­tos hol­i­day, the film un­wraps the cel­e­bra­tion of a life­time, when a gen­er­a­tions-old mys­tery leads to an ex­tra­or­di­nary fam­ily reunion. Writ­ten by Adrian Molina. Ben­jamin Bratt voices a TBA char­ac­ter. Nov. 22. Fer­di­nand [Blue Sky Stu­dios | 20th Cen­tury Fox] Di­rec­tor: Car­los Sal­danha | Based on the chil­dren’s book by Munro Leaf, the story of a young bull who would rather smell flow­ers than par­tic­i­pate in bull­fights who mis­tak­enly ends up fac­ing off with a pop­u­lar mata­dor. Dec. [

With so many fea­tures defin­ing a di­verse year for the in­dus­try, direc­tors of some of the top films of 2016 weigh in on the process and the state of an­i­ma­tion. By Karen Idel­son.

With 2016’s chap­ter in the his­tory books near­ing its close, it has proven one of the most ro­bust years ever for an­i­mated fea­tures, with a di­ver­sity of projects hit­ting screens that the in­dus­try could only have dreamed of a quar­ter-cen­tury ago. Key mo­ment of in­spi­ra­tion: There were a lot, and it’s thanks to this that the project didn’t lose im­pe­tus over time but gained it, was im­proved by it. First there was Tim Bur­ton, Ji í Trnka, Cather­ine Buf­fat and JeanLuc Greco, François Truf­faut, Ge­orge Sch­wiz­gebel, Peter Lord, the Dar­denne broth­ers, Ken Loach, Wes An­der­son, Isao Taka­hata and some oth­ers, who nur­tured my imag­i­na­tion and gave me t h e de­sire to make an­i­mated films. Then there was the meet­ing with Cé­dric Louis, with whom I made five short films about the tor­ments of child­hood. He got me to read Gilles Paris’ Au­to­bi­og­ra­phy of a Zuc­chini, the novel which in­spired the film. The broth­ers Frédéric and Sa­muel Guil­laume, as well as Gré­gory Beaus­sart, who ini­ti­ated me to stop­mo­tion an­i­ma­tion. And then things con­tin­ued with the screen­writer Cé­line Sci­amma, who my pro­duc­ers Max Karli and Pauline Gy­gax had the good sense to in­tro­duce to me. She gave a lot of sim­plic­ity and beauty to the story, a clear line for each char­ac­ter. When we did the voice record­ing with Marie-Eve Hild­brand, who di­rected the ac­tors, I re­ally felt that the film was tak­ing shape. The film crew took in­spi­ra­tion from these voices when they cre­ated the vis­ual as­pect of the film. David Toutevoix did a great job with the cin­e­matog­ra­phy and Kim Keukeleire found the right an­i­ma­tion style, com­bin­ing re­al­ism and min­i­mal­ism for the an­i­ma­tion. When we filmed the first shot, we all felt a lot of emo­tion, some­thing out­side of us took over at that time. Then, a year later, when the sound was added, we took an­other in­spir­ing step and, thanks to the tal­ents of Denis Séchaud, I was able to redis­cover my film, three years af­ter the be­gin­ning of the project.

Tough­est chal­lenge in mak­ing this movie: Find­ing pro­duc­ers to fi­nance the film. The de­vel­op­ment took sev­eral years, in­ter­spersed with other projects, short films and com­mis­sions. The main prob­lem was to con­vince the pro­duc­ers, dis­trib­u­tors and tele­vi­sion chan­nels that this film, which di­rectly ad­dresses the topic of child abuse and is very re­al­is­tic, could in­ter­est a wide au­di­ence. In this we were for­tu­nate that we had the pub­lic sup­port of an ini­tial vi­sion­ary pro­ducer, Robert Bon­ner, and we were able to make a short three-minute pi­lot which fea­tured the case for the pro­tag­o­nist. This pi­lot pro­vided a con­densed ver­sion of the project: se­quence-shots, tak­ing on dif­fi­cult top­ics, hu­mor and emo­tion. With this film and Cé­line’s mag­nif­i­cent script on board, ev­ery­thing sud­denly changed dur­ing Car­toon Movie 2012 in Lyon. What fol­lowed was, of course, epic, as any fea­ture-length stop-mo­tion an­i­ma­tion has to be, but the worst was over, the film was now go­ing to hap­pen.

On the state of the an­i­ma­tion in­dus­try: Not very dif­fer­ent to the cur­rent state of the film in­dus­try as a whole. There are many, many movies in a very com­pet­i­tive mar­ket. The U.S. dom­i­nates the en­ter­tain­ment mar­ket and Europe is sup­posed to of­fer a cul­tural al­ter­na­tive made pos­si­ble through state aid. It is a war in which you have to po­si­tion your­self and have very clear ideas, find­ing the right part­ners at the right time to hope to have a chance of mak­ing a film that the pub­lic will hear about and have the urge to go see. Over 50 an­i­mated films are re­leased in France ev­ery year. If a movie does not fill the­aters in the first week, it dis­ap­pears very quickly and an­other one re­places it. The large stu­dios in­vest hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars in ad­ver­tis­ing for each film they place on the mar­ket. In com­par­i­son, when you have a pro­duc­tion bud­get and pro­mo­tional bud­get that is 30 times smaller, you can’t of­fer the same thing. You ab­so­lutely must have more soul, some­thing that is ex­tremely orig­i­nal, if you want a chance of bring­ing your film to screen. This is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly rare.

Fa­vorite an­i­mated movie or char­ac­ter of all time: Princess Mononoke! I am com­pletely in­trigued and fas­ci­nated by this girl. Her re­volt makes me want to rebel, her sav­agery makes me want to be­come wild and soothe her rage, to live hap­pily with her in the for­est. But she re­mains in­ac­ces­si­ble and that both sad­dens me and fu­els my fas­ci­na­tion.

Ca­reer begin­nings: By mak­ing con­tact with peo­ple. I stud­ied il­lus­tra­tion and then Cé­dric Louis and Ge­orges Sch­wiz­gebel gave me the de­sire and helped me to make my first short film. Ev­ery­thing else fol­lowed on, each step with an­other beau­ti­ful en­counter: Gre­gory Beaus­sart, Fred and Sa­muel Guil­laume, Robert Bon­ner, Max Karli and Pauline Gy­gax of Rita Pro­duc­tions, Gilles Paris, Cé­line Sci­amma, So­phie Hunger ... . A chain of ex­tra­or­di­nary meet­ings and dis­cus­sions is what brings movies into this world. Cin­ema is a col­lec­tive art and this is es­pe­cially true with stop-mo­tion an­i­ma­tion.

Key mo­ment of in­spi­ra­tion: In 2005, the orig­i­nal scriptwrit­ers, Pa­tri­cia Valeix and Claire Pao­letti, told me about their idea for a movie. Lots of el­e­ments were al­ready there, and all of them were in­spir­ing for me: the phan­tom ship, the North Pole, the city of Saint Peters­burg and, above all, the theme of trans­mis­sion, the idea that a part of us is struc­tured through sto­ries told by an­cients.

Tough­est chal­lenge in mak­ing this movie: The tough­est chal­lenge was to build a story from be­gin­ning to end with enough ten­sion and com­plex char­ac­ters. It took us a fail­ure. Af­ter 10 months of hard work, the an­i­matic (edited sto­ry­board with pro­vi­sory sounds and mu­sic) didn’t work. We had to go back to script with a new scriptwriter, Fabrice De Cos­til.

On the state of the an­i­ma­tion in­dus­try: I’m not sure (that I’m) in the best po­si­tion to an­a­lyze that. From where I’m look­ing at it, the an­i­ma­tion in­dus­try seems to cover so many dif­fer­ent re­al­i­ties. From Se­bastien Lau­den­bach’s fea­ture La je­une fille sans mains, or Gabriel Harel’s short film Yùl et le ser­pent, from TV se­ri­als to big Amer­i­can fea­ture films. For the fea­tures, it seems that 2D an­i­ma­tion is at risk in the fight with the huge CGI bud­gets and in a way with a sort a nor­mal­iza­tion of the graphic as­pect of this CGI. 2D, hand-drawn an­i­ma­tion — even dig­i­tal hand-drawn an­i­ma­tion — works with smaller bud­gets, less in­vestors and (there­fore) more lib­er­ties. But it is hard to fight against such ag­gres­sive pro­mo­tion. Piv­otal scene: I re­ally en­joy the mo­ment when Sacha starts to work in Olga’s inn. At that point the story takes its pace. Fabrice de Cos­til, the scriptwriter of the fi­nal ver­sion, had a lot of good so­lu­tions to re-build the movie in the right way. This se­quence is one of his good ideas. Ca­reer begin­nings: Af­ter art school, I started to work as an il­lus­tra­tor. But I didn’t re­ally like it. A friend gave me the ad­vice to show my port­fo­lio in a an­i­ma­tion stu­dio in An­goulême (France). That’s how I dis­cov­ered the life in an­i­ma­tion stu­dios. I’ve been trained by el­ders in the nu­mer­ous dif­fer­ent an­i­ma­tion crafts. Best ad­vice: For me, the best ad­vice has been given to me by Jean-Christophe Vil­lard, an an­i­ma­tion di­rec­tor, a great artist, and a friend. He said: Stop work­ing on the films of oth­ers; make yours.

Key mo­ment of in­spi­ra­tion: As is of­ten the case, the pro­tag­o­nist be­comes some­thing of a proxy for the di­rec­tor. The deeper we got into it, the more of my­self I saw in Kubo. He’s an artist. He’s a storyteller. He’s a mu­si­cian. He’s an an­i­ma­tor, re­ally, when you think about it. And at some point, I had a rev­e­la­tion. “Oh my god, he’s me!” This un­locked ev­ery­thing for me. Once I re­al­ized that Kubo’s jour­ney mir­rored my own, I was able to tap into a life­time of me­mories, ob­ser­va­tions, and life ex­pe­ri­ences, in­ter­weav­ing my life with my art. It de­fined the film’s emo­tional core for me. I saw the film as a height­ened, fan­tas­ti­cal ver­sion of my own child­hood, of my re­la­tion­ship with my fam­ily, and of my ex­pe­ri­ences as a fa­ther. Para­dox­i­cally, the more in­ti­mate and per­sonal the story is, the more uni­ver­sal it be­comes. There’s more of me in this movie than any­thing I’ve ever done. That can be a slightly ter­ri­fy­ing prospect: re­veal­ing a part of your­self that you typ­i­cally keep shrouded and pro­tected. To lay your­self bare to the world is to await the world’s un­spar­ing judg­ment on your work, and, as sub­text, on your value as a hu­man. But there’s no get­ting around it. What we make re­flects who we are and what we be­lieve. And that’s the price for ad­mis­sion if you in­tend to tell sto­ries that have mean­ing and res­o­nance and real heart.

Tough­est chal­lenge in mak­ing this movie: The most chal­leng­ing lo­ca­tions to cre­ate were those above and be­low the wa­ter on the Long Lake dur­ing a rag­ing storm that serve as the cen­ter point of the film. Stop-mo­tion and wa­ter simply don’t play well to­gether. It’s a night­mare. Bring­ing these lo­ca­tions to the screen was a cross-depart­men­tal ef­fort in­volv­ing the art, rig­ging, and vis­ual ef­fects de­part­ments. Af­ter the beau­ti­ful de­signs emerged from our con­cept artists, our rig­ging depart­ment, led by Ol­lie Jones, car­ried out a se­ries of in-cam­era tests of prac­ti­cal wa­ter. This in­volved ev­ery­thing from panes of rip­pled shower glass to torn bits of paper to sheets of cloth, shower cur­tains, and garbage bags fixed to a grid of metal rods. Af­ter an ex­haus­tive suc­ces­sion of ex­plo­rations, we came up with a basic look and be­hav­ior for the wa­ter. One with styl­ized scoop pat­tern­ing, an­gu­lar geo­met­ric shapes, and tex­tures in­spired by 20th cen­tury graphic artist Kiyoshi Saito’s wood­block prints. We shot tests and cap­tured a lot of this stuff on the stages. But it wasn’t prac­ti­cal to shoot it all in-cam­era. There was no way we could do that and have it look be­liev­able, given the ac­tion and the in­ter­ac­tiv­ity of the wa­ter with the boat.

So we brought in our vis­ual-ef­fects team to recre­ate the feel of the prac­ti­cal tests com­bined with the greater flex­i­bil­ity, pre­ci­sion, and nu­ance of CG sim­u­la­tions. Lead­ing the charge was our bril­liant lead ef­fects artist David Hors­ley, work­ing with our vis­ual ef­fects su­per­vi­sor, Steve Emer­son. David had pre­vi­ously done some ex­traor­di­nar­ily beau­ti­ful wa­ter work on Life of Pi, but this film’s style cre­ated a dif­fer­ent kind of chal­lenge. We weren’t try­ing to repli­cate re­al­ity. We were try­ing to cre­ate a new re­al­ity. That’s some­thing the com­puter doesn’t al­ways ap­pre­ci­ate or go along with. David had to bend the ma­chine to his will. The de­vel­op­ment for the wa­ter sys­tem took eight months. The as­ton­ish­ing re­sults on­screen are a tes­ta­ment to David’s skills and el­bow grease, along with an army of ex­cep­tional dig­i­tal and prac­ti­cal ef­fects artists. The se­quence is gor­geous and ter­ri­fy­ing and ul­ti­mately mov­ing. A real tri­umph of the mar­riage of stop-mo­tion and dig­i­tal an­i­ma­tion in the ser­vice of cin­e­matic spec­ta­cle.

On the state of the an­i­ma­tion in­dus­try: The an­i­ma­tion in­dus­try is healthy. There has never been a time in our his­tory where an­i­ma­tion has en­joyed such wide­spread suc­cess. Vir­tu­ally ev­ery ma­jor film stu­dio has now set up an an­i­ma­tion arm. It’s big busi­ness. There are more an­i­mated films, more an­i­ma­tion stu­dios, and more an­i­ma­tion jobs and op­por­tu­ni­ties than ever be­fore. That’s a won­der­ful thing. But, of course, ev­ery sil­ver lin­ing has a dark cloud. The prob­lems plagu­ing an­i­ma­tion are the same prob­lems plagu­ing the film in­dus­try as a whole. Namely, we’ve en­tered a time where the pri­macy on fran­chises and brands and im­me­di­ately rec­og­niz­able in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty has over­whelmed the artis­tic drive to tell new and orig­i­nal sto­ries. The cin­ema used to be the place we’d go to see sto­ries about who we are. As a kid, I rel­ished the op­por­tu­nity to be in a dark­ened room filled with strangers, a mot­ley com­mu­nity cap­ti­vated by the flick­er­ing im­age on­screen that would trans­port us to new worlds and of­fer in­sight and perspective on what it means to be hu­man. In their finest form, the movies would give us some­thing new, a mean­ing­ful ex­pe­ri­ence, some­thing we could re­mem­ber and carry with us in our lives. That kind of ex­pe­ri­ence is in­creas­ingly be­com­ing a rar­ity.

Piv­otal scene: Ul­ti­mately I be­lieve the sin­gle most crit­i­cal scene in the film comes, fit­tingly, at the film’s end. We set up, and I be­lieve the au­di­ence ex­pects, a vi­o­lent, cathar­tic face­off be­tween Kubo and his neme­sis. Our hero is filled with rage, look­ing to ex­act vengeance on the mon­ster who has taken so much from him. And right­fully so. At one point dur­ing the fi­nal bat­tle, it looks as if Kubo will get the re­venge he seeks. But then we shift gears. That’s not what this movie is about. Rather, it’s a med­i­ta­tion on love and loss and for­give­ness and em­pa­thy. Those are the ex­am­ples of Kubo’s parents. Those are the lessons and ex­pe­ri­ences he will carry with him. The mo­ment when Kubo and then the au­di­ence re­al­ize the true mean­ing of the film’s ti­tle is a dis­til­la­tion of ev­ery­thing at the beat­ing heart of the film. And it’s one of the things I’m most proud of.

Ca­reer begin­nings: I’ve been work­ing in an­i­ma­tion pro­duc­tion for two decades. In that time I’ve done many dif­fer­ent things in many dif­fer­ent roles. I started as a pro­duc­tion as­sis­tant on a tele­vi­sion show. I did sched­ul­ing and co­or­di­nat­ing, worked as a stop-mo­tion and CG an­i­ma­tor in TV, com­mer­cials, and short films, and be­came a lead an­i­ma­tor set­ting the style for our films. I’ve worked in de­vel­op­ment. I’ve been a pro­ducer, guid­ing a film from con­cep­tion to com­ple­tion. I’ve been a CEO, over­see­ing all as­pects of a com­pany’s cre­ative and busi­ness op­er­a­tions. I’ve been both in the trenches painstak­ingly sweat­ing the de­tails and in the board room me­thod­i­cally plan­ning a com­pany’s fu­ture.

With Kubo, I fi­nally felt that through all of those years slog­ging through the mire, I’d ac­quired a de­gree of perspective. Wis­dom, even. Maybe it was all blus­ter. But in the end, di­rect­ing Kubo re­quired and took ad­van­tage of ev­ery sin­gle one of those ear­lier ex­pe­ri­ences. I don’t think I could have done it with­out hav­ing en­dured them all. Di­rect­ing Kubo was the most mean­ing­ful and cre­atively sat­is­fy­ing ex­pe­ri­ence of my ca­reer. I’m grate­ful for it.

Best ad­vice: The best ad­vice I’ve ever re­ceived, and thus the best ad­vice I could ever hope to be­stow on any­one else, comes from my fa­ther. He told me not to set­tle. He told me not to set­tle for a job or a pro­fes­sion or even a ca­reer. In­stead, seek a call­ing. Even if you don’t know what that means, seek it. Find that thing you were put on this Earth to do and go for it as hard as you can. If you’re lucky enough to find it, it makes the hard­ship eas­ier to bear, it turns the fail­ures into fuel, and it makes the highs like noth­ing you’ve ever felt.

Key mo­ment of in­spi­ra­tion: I guess you could say the key mo­ment for me was when I was gifted a copy of The Lit­tle Prince more than 26 years ago by my wife, Kim, back when we were just dat­ing in col­lege. The book af­fected me deeply and be­came such a sig­nif­i­cant bond be­tween us, and stayed with me for the decades that fol­lowed. When I was asked to con­sider mak­ing a movie out of the book, the book meant so much to me that I ini­tially said no. But I couldn’t stop think­ing about how much the book had af­fected my life, and how much it had af­fected so many peo­ple’s lives, and I started to see an in­cred­i­ble op­por­tu­nity to not only cin­e­mat­i­cally adapt the book, but to cre­ate a story around the story of the book about the power that the book can have in some­one’s life. I felt that this was our re­spon­si­bil­ity, to both honor the story and cel­e­brate the magic of what the book has be­come in our world at the same time. So, the im­por­tance of the book in my life was ini­tially why I said no, but it was also ul­ti­mately the rea­son why I said yes.

Tough­est chal­lenge in mak­ing this movie: The tough­est chal­lenge was find­ing just the right larger story to tell around the book that would be both in­spired by the book and born out of the el­e­ments of the book. My writ­ers, Irena Brignull and Bob Per­sichetti, and I wanted very much to stay as close to the tone and themes of the orig­i­nal story as pos­si­ble, while weav­ing in a uni­ver­sal story of what can po­ten­tially hap­pen to a per­son when the book en­ters their life. We wanted the larger story to both echo the orig­i­nal, and also shed new light on the pow­er­ful themes and ideas that the books presents so beau­ti­fully. This was very chal­leng­ing, es­pe­cially since the book lives in the imag­i­na­tion of the reader, and ev­ery­one cre­ates their own ver­sion in their minds. So we chose not to at­tempt to por­tray ev­ery­body’s dif­fer­ent in­ter­pre­ta­tion (which would be im­pos­si­ble) but in­stead a very spe­cific char­ac­ter’s per­sonal in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the story, that comes alive in her imag­i­na­tion. This al­lowed us to mir­ror the au­di­ence’s ex­pe­ri­ence with the story, which is al­ways a very singu- lar and per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence.

On the state of the an­i­ma­tion in­dus­try: Some­times I worry that the larger pro­duc­tions are all start­ing to look and sound the same. It is al­ways ex­cit­ing for me to con­tinue to see the broad spec­trum of ex­pres­sion in an­i­mated fea­ture films. I am an in­die film­maker at heart, so I’m al­ways root­ing for the lit­tle guy, and to see films be­ing made in an­i­ma­tion as di­versely dif­fer­ent as Ano­ma­l­isa, The Red Tur­tle, The LEGO Movie, Long Way North, The Book of Life, Zootopia, Kubo and the Two Strings and Sausage Party, I get in­cred­i­bly ex­cited about what can pos­si­bly come next. Per­son­ally, I want to help push the bound­aries of what an an­i­mated fea­ture film can be, and I am hop­ing for bolder choices by the pow­ers that be to di­ver­sify the kinds of sto­ries that can be told.

Piv­otal scene: The make or break scene for me in The Lit­tle Prince is the mo­ment that the Lit­tle Girl hears the end of the story, where the Lit­tle Prince gets bit­ten by the snake. Her re­ac­tion to that part of the story is such a huge mo­ment for her as a char­ac­ter, it brings up her dark­est fears about hav­ing to say good­bye to her dear friend, the Avi­a­tor, but it also causes her to shut down emo­tion­ally in a very dra­matic way. This was in­tended to both mir­ror the way chil­dren can re­act to loss when it hap­pens to them, some­thing that they can’t quite make sense of or put words to, and the jour­ney of un­der­stand­ing that the Lit­tle Girl em­barks on to even­tu­ally try to un­der­stand that part of the book is very much in­tended to mir­ror the Avi­a­tor’s own ini­tial and very per­sonal re­ac­tion to los­ing the Lit­tle Prince in the orig­i­nal story. This scene had to work as both an ex­plo­ration of the deeper as­pects of the book, the themes of love and loss, but it was also in­tended to give us new in­sight into the very clear strat-

Key mo­ment of in­spi­ra­tion: Af­ter watch­ing Find­ing Nemo again, many years af­ter its ini­tial re­lease, I re­al­ized that Dory’s char­ac­ter wasn’t fin­ished yet. She de­served to be whole. It was com­pletely in­spired by her char­ac­ter.

Tough­est chal­lenge in mak­ing this movie: Mak­ing a movie where the main char­ac­ter has short-term mem­ory loss. If your sub­ject can’t self-re­flect, then you can’t track their growth through­out the story.

Piv­otal scene: For me, it’s Dory’s low­est point, where ev­ery­thing she’s gained over two movies has been stripped away from her, in­clud­ing her mem­ory, and she has to learn, com­pletely on her own, how to dig her­self out of that hole.

Fa­vorite an­i­mated movie or char­ac­ter of all time: (movie), Shere Kahn (char­ac­ter).

Ca­reer begin­nings: I went to CalArts in the ’80s for char­ac­ter an­i­ma­tion. I then worked (or didn’t work) free­lance for about three years af­ter school. Then, one day, I met a guy named John Las­seter, a fel­low in­de­pen­dent film­maker, at a festival for an­i­ma­tion, and well ... the rest is an­i­ma­tion his­tory.

Tough­est chal­lenge in mak­ing this movie: Get­ting it sold. We pitched this idea for close to three years. We were in this weird an­i­ma­tion pur­ga­tory of live-ac­tion stu­dios not want­ing to make an­i­ma­tion be­cause they didn’t know it or in some cases had no in­ter­est in it, and an­i­ma­tion stu­dios that had a chil­dren’s brand they didn’t want to tar­nish with an R-rated movie un­der their ban­ner. So ev­ery­one we pitched would laugh hys­ter­i­cally at the idea and, through the chuck­les, tell us no. That is un­til Me­gan El­li­son and An­na­purna Pic­tures came along. They loved the script and Me­gan loves an­i­ma­tion and saw this as a way to do some­thing dif­fer­ent. Which is what we set out to do with this film.

On the state of the an­i­ma­tion in­dus­try: I hope the suc­cess of this film has opened up op­por­tu­ni­ties for a new kind of an­i­mated film. What wor­ries me is the my­opic view the in­dus­try has of an­i­ma­tion. It is con­sid­ered a genre by many, which au­to­mat­i­cally puts it into a very lim­ited cat­e­gory and se­verely sti­fles what you are al­lowed to do with the art form in the main­stream. In con­se­quence, we have an over­abun­dance of an­i­mated films for one au­di­ence. The mar­ket­place is be­com­ing over­sat­u­rated with “four-quad­rant, fam­ily an­i­mated films” and of these only a cou­ple out of the dozen or more each year will be able to make enough money to sur­vive over time. This even­tu­ally will cause a crash in the in­dus­try and could re­sult in the idea that an­i­ma­tion isn’t a vi­able busi­ness any­more, ex­cept for maybe one or two stu­dios. It’s hap­pened be­fore. This is one of the main rea­sons I’ve wanted to make a film like Sausage Party for so long: To prove that there is a mar­ket and an au­di­ence for this type of an­i­ma­tion. Hope­fully we’ve kicked down a large door and opened up the in­dus­try to more an­i­mated films of this type.

Piv­otal scene: I’d have to say the fight be­tween Brenda and Frank and the Meat­loaf mon­tage. That scene with an au­di­ence is so fun to watch be­cause you can tell peo­ple are sur­prised by the fact there are ac­tual emo­tional stakes the char­ac­ters are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing and it’s not just a string of dirty food jokes. There’s a real story go­ing on, and they’re dig­ging it. Then the au­di­ence is hit by an ac­tual meat­loaf singing a power bal­lad and they lose it. We re­ally wanted to play that scene real. Let it breathe and not worry about whether or not it had a laugh in ev­ery line, but let the char­ac­ters be real. I think it re­ally caught peo­ple off guard be­cause of the tone of that scene, and then caught them off guard again when we got silly a mo­ment later. Ca­reer begin­nings: I was stuck in col­lege at Long Beach State look­ing at a ca­reer in graphic arts that I did not en­joy. One day I was fed up with the sys­tem, see­ing as it was go­ing to be six years be­fore I earned a de­gree in some­thing I did not want to do for a liv­ing, so I lit­er­ally called up the front desk at Dis­ney stu­dios and asked how does one be­come an an­i­ma­tor? The re­cep­tion­ist said that a lot of the peo­ple there went to a school called CalArts in Va­len­cia. Who­ever that re­cep­tion­ist was changed my life. I en­rolled, was ac­cepted by the skin of my teeth and spent a year work­ing my ass off with like-minded peo­ple for the first time in my life. That sum­mer I ran­domly went in to a stu­dio that was hir­ing for a new an­i­mated film in the vein of Roger Rab­bit. I ap­plied and got my first job, and the movie was Cool World. Best ad­vice: Learn the craft, re­spect it and love do­ing it. Learn all as­pects of the process. From what a P.A. does all the way to what a pro­ducer does and how stu­dios work. I al­ways thought I’d be an an­i­ma­tor sit­ting at a desk an­i­mat­ing, but my sec­ond job af­ter Cool World was sto­ry­board­ing. That was where I found my niche. I could write and draw and then get up and act it out. I never would have found out how much I loved that if I had only ap­plied for or taken an­i­mat­ing jobs. Also, find a way to put your­self and who you are into ev­ery­thing you work on. Through­out my ca­reer I have al­ways tried to push the en­ve­lope of what was be­ing done. I strived to change the in­dus­try and what peo­ple were see­ing. A lot of de­riv­a­tive stuff can crop up af­ter an an­i­mated show or movie hits. It’s likely you’ll find your­self work­ing on some­thing like that. Con­stantly ask your­self “How can I make this bet­ter? How can I twist this in a way that’s new and en­ter­tain­ing?” Ul­ti­mately, it will make even the most mun­dane job en­joy­able.

Key mo­ment of in­spi­ra­tion: We got asked a lot by fans when we’d get to meet Po’s panda fa­ther. What would it mean for Po’s re­la­tion­ship with his dot­ing adop­tive goose fa­ther, Mr. Ping, and how would it af­fect Po’s iden­tity? We al­ways wanted to ad­dress this in a real and re­spect­ful man­ner. In many ways, we wanted this to be a trib­ute to fa­thers of all makes and mod­els.

Tough­est chal­lenge in mak­ing this movie: Peo­ple know these char­ac­ters and have clear opin­ions about what is in or out of char­ac­ter. The same is true for the crew, many of whom have been work­ing on these char­ac­ters in this world for 12 years. There is an ex­pec­ta­tion for con­ti­nu­ity. But you can’t just make the same movie over and over. Cre­at­ing some­thing new and sur­pris­ing out of some­thing so fa­mil­iar is a som­er­sault.

On the state of the an­i­ma­tion in­dus­try: There are so many fea­ture an­i­mated films be­ing made, it’s kinda crazy. I heard re­cently that this year there are 40 el­i­gi­ble films for Os­car con­sid­er­a­tion. Last year, there were 16. It’s great so many are be­ing made, be­cause that means a lot of peo­ple are work­ing.

Piv­otal scene: It’s al­ways the emo­tional mo­ments that are the most im­por­tant to me. If you don’t feel some­thing, it’s just not go­ing to stay with you. The mo­ment Po’s panda dad helps Po and says, “a fa­ther.” That gets me. And one guy who worked on it who was a new fa­ther told me he cried at that spot. Fa­vorite an­i­mated movie or char­ac­ter of all time: With­out a doubt, To­toro! Ca­reer begin­nings: I was in my last se­mes­ter in col­lege won­der­ing what I was go­ing to do with my life. My sis­ter was work­ing at a small an­i­ma­tion stu­dio and needed a P.A., so I’d book over af­ter class to make copies. It was su­per cool to see how a pro­duc­tion runs, how peo­ple work with each other, even the most mun­dane stuff, like the long com­mute, was great train­ing. I learned how to drive re­ally well.

Best ad­vice: Don’t just copy what you see be­ing made right now. It re­flects the taste of peo­ple who grad­u­ated 20 years ago. What the stu­dios need, what the in­dus­try needs, are new ideas. If it’s ex­cit­ing to you, it will be ex­cit­ing to oth­ers. Plus, find a men­tor. Hope­fully some­one who thinks you’re not too crazy. [

Over the past two decades, Mon­treal-based artist Diane Obom­sawin has en­joyed a dou­ble-track ca­reer as a graphic nov­el­ist and an in­de­pen­dent 2D an­i­ma­tor. The tal­ented artist’s lat­est an­i­mated short I Like Girls (J’aime les filles) won the cov­eted Grand Prize for Best In­de­pen­dent Short at the Ot­tawa In­ter­na­tional An­i­ma­tion Festival in Septem­ber. The beau­ti­fully drawn tra­di­tion­ally an­i­mated project of­fers a se­ries of short, sweet vi­gnettes in which women re­call the first time they fell in love with an­other girl.

Obom­sawin, whose sim­i­larly themed graphic novel, On Lov­ing Women, re­ceived wide ac­claim when it was pub­lished two years ago, says she was in­spired by re­al­life sto­ries to cre­ate both the book and the short. “When I was about 45 year old, I re­al­ized that, since the age of 7, I was al­ways in love with a girl or later on a woman,” she says. “Be­cause I changed schools 14 times when I was younger, it was im­por­tant for me to choose a girl with whom I could fall in love dur­ing my time there. It was an un­con­scious choice I made to have an ef­fec­tive life.”

Af­ter read­ing a sim­i­lar book by French Cana­dian au­thor Michel Trem­blay, she de­cided to col­lect sto­ries about first loves and at­trac­tions to other women from her friends. She first be­gan the graphic novel right af­ter she fin­ished her pre­vi­ous an­i­mated short, Kas­par. “I like to al­ter­nate do­ing a film and then a graphic novel,” she says. “I like to ex­plore those two dif­fer­ent ways of telling a story. When I fin­ish a graphic novel, I miss do­ing a film and vice versa.”

She spent 12 months on the graphic novel, and then worked on the an­i­mated short for the next 18 months. The short, which was funded by the Na­tional Film Board of Canada, was pro­duced for about $200,000. “Cu­ri­ously, I find work­ing on a graphic novel much more la­bo­ri­ous than a film,” says the an­i­ma­tor. “With a graphic novel, you con­stantly have to make dif­fer­ent de­ci­sions within each frame. When I work on a graphic novel, I find my­self con­stantly want­ing to clean my house or bake some muffins, but when I’m work­ing on an an­i­mated project, I work with­out any in­ter­rup­tions be­cause the de­ci­sion process is much shorter than its ex­e­cu­tion.” Dig­ging in to Dig­i­tal 2D Obom­sawin uses TVPaint soft­ware to pro­duce the 2D an­i­ma­tion in all her films. “It’s per­fect for me,” she says. “I like the fact that there are a lot of steps in­volved in the process. I like to imag­ine what would be the best choices for each step. For my last film, I had a sense of the fragility of a film be­cause, de­spite its sim­plic­ity, there were a lot of choices that I had to make, and I could eas­ily spoil it. I work in 2D an­i­ma­tion, be­cause I ac­tu­ally don’t know how to work in CG. Maybe I would learn CG if it would serve the film that I wanted to make, but for now, I feel that there is a lot to ex­plore in the 2D.”

One of the big chal­lenges for the an­i­ma­tor was find­ing the right voices for the short, which re­quired four dif­fer­ent ones in French and four in English. “It was a tricky task be­cause they had to sound very nat­u­ral, but they also had to be quite dif­fer­ent from each other for each story,” Obom­sawin says. “I’m very grate­ful to the film’s com­poser, be­cause she spent a lot of time au­di­tion­ing all the dif­fer­ent voice ac­tresses and then recorded them in her stu­dio. I am also very happy that I made the right de­ci­sions for this short.”

When asked about ad­vice on telling per­sonal, ef­fec­tive sto­ries in an­i­mated form, Obom­sawin is quite straight­for­ward. “I will tell an­i­ma­tors, feel free to do what­ever you would like to do,” she says. “The more free­dom you give your­self, the bet­ter it is for your own good and for the good of the film. It is best to start with a very sim­ple idea so you won’t be dis­cour­aged dur­ing the process. Also, try to work from what you know, from what in­ter­ests or con­cerns you the most.”

What about hon­esty and re­veal­ing deep truths about your soul? “I think when you are re­ally ready to make an au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal film, you don’t re­al­ize that you are brave or hon­est,” she says with a smile. “You just do what you have to do. At least, that’s the way it works for me!” [

Spain Direc­tors: Rafa Cano Mén­dez, Daniel Martínez Lara Pro­duced by: Qual­i­fy­ing Win: Goya Award for Best An­i­mated Short Film Synop­sis: In this busy mod­ern world, Copi is a fa­ther who tries to guide his son, Paste. But … what is the cor­rect path? Trailer: https://vimeo.com/139367238 alikeshort.com Switzer­land Di­rec­tor: Anete Melece Pro­duced by: Saski von Virág Qual­i­fy­ing Win: En­coun­ters Festival An­i­mated Grand Prix Synop­sis: An­ton’s head is burst­ing with thoughts. The gar­dener is seething with anger: Who has tram­pled her flower beds? In the park, An­ton is look­ing for some­one to play chess with; some­one who plays a bet­ter game than his dachs­hund. vi­rage­film.ch USA Di­rec­tor: Dan Lund Pro­duced by: Dan Lund, Con­nie Nar­to­nis Thomp­son, Amos Sus­si­gan Qual­i­fy­ing Win: Cleve­land Int’l Film Festival Best An­i­mated Short Synop­sis: When a cal­low young farmer shows him­self to be com­pletely un­in­ter­ested in the sen­si­tive art of milk­ing, a bovine diva (along with her singing and danc­ing back-up bulls) belts out a tune de­mand­ing to be re­spected for more than just dairy prod­ucts. ari­afora­cow.com Ger­many Di­rec­tor: Ah­mad Saleh Pro­duced by: Ste­fan Gieren; Academy of Me­dia Arts Cologne Qual­i­fy­ing Win: Stu­dent Academy Award for For­eign An­i­ma­tion — Gold Medal Synop­sis: Af­ter a cruel war ren­ders them home­less, an anx­ious mother tries to keep her sons from dan­ger. But the boys chase their dreams of play­ing the oud, col­lect­ing scrap metal to earn money, and learn­ing their mother’s fear had rea­sons. face­book.com/ayny­film Canada Di­rec­tor: Hec­tor Her­rera Pro­duced by: Pazit Cahlon; TO­GETHER, Varipix Qual­i­fy­ing Win: Cana­dian Screen Award Best An­i­mated Short Synop­sis: The third “chap­ter” of Beastly Bards, writ­ten with a nod to tra­di­tional cow­boy songs and the north­ern bal­lads of Robert W. Ser­vice. Voiced by Ken­neth Welsh and scored by The Sadies, Im­mor­tal Joe puts a haunted twist on a trag­i­cally ro­man­tic West­ern. weare­to­gether.ca Canada Di­rec­tor: Theodore Ushev Pro­duced by: Marc Ber­trand; NFB USA Direc­tors: Coats Pro­duced by: An­necy Jury Award for Short Film Synop­sis: Vaysha is not like other lit­tle girls. Her left eye only sees the past and her right sees only the fu­ture. Blinded by what was and tor­mented by what will be, she re­mains trapped be­tween two ir­rec­on­cil­able tem­po­ral­i­ties. Peo­ple call her “Blind Vaysha.” www.nfb.ca/film/blind_­vaysha Qual­i­fy­ing Wins: Nashville Film Festival Grand Jury Prize for An­i­mated Shorts; SIGGRAPH Com­puter An­i­ma­tion Festival Best in Show Synop­sis: A weath­ered sher­iff re­turns to the re­mains of an ac­ci­dent he has spent a life­time try­ing to for­get. With each step for­ward, the me­mories come flood­ing back. Faced with his mis­take once again, he must find the strength to carry on. bor­rowed­timeshort.com Qual­i­fy­ing Win: Cinequest Film Festival Best An­i­mated Short Film Synop­sis: Ev­ery year, thou­sands of teens are placed in soli­tary confinement cells in ju­ve­nile halls, jails and pris­ons na­tion­wide. This story is based on an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by The Cen­ter for In­ves­tiga­tive Re­port­ing and was cre­ated us­ing real au­dio from an in­ter­view with Is­mael “Izzy” Nazario about his time in soli­tary confinement. michaelis­chiller.com Switzer­land Di­rec­tor: Jad­wiga Kowal­ska Pro­duced by: Sch­weizer Ra­dio und Fernse­hen Qual­i­fy­ing Win: Lo­carno Golden Leop­ard for Best Short Film (Na­tional) Synop­sis: A man on a bridge, sep­a­rated from the love of his life, wants to be with her one last time and de­cides to go and seek her in the here­after. jad­wiga.ch

Ger­many Direc­tors: Alexan­der Lahl, Volker Sch­lecht Pro­duced by: Die Kul­turin­ge­nieure Qual­i­fy­ing Win: Stuttgart Int’l Festival of An­i­mated Film Grand Prix Synop­sis: Gabriele Stötzer from Er­furt and Bir­git Willschütz from Ber­lin re­call their prison terms at the women’s prison of Ho­he­neck in the for­mer GDR for this an­i­mated doc­u­men­tary. Ex­tracts of orig­i­nal in­ter­view record­ings are in­ter­preted in sim­ple, min­i­mally an­i­mated mono­chrome im­ages. ka­putt-bro­ken.tum­blr.com Italy Di­rec­tor: Ago Panini Pro­duced by: Dude Film Srl & EDI in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Akira Film with the sup­port of Film Com­mis­sion Lom­bar­dia Qual­i­fy­ing Win: Seat­tle Int’l Film Festival An­i­ma­tion Grand Jury Prize Synop­sis: Carlo has a secret at home in his closet that no one sus­pects. By day, Carlo works in an of­fice where he has just fallen in love with his col­league, Anita. At night, Carlo spends most of his time alone. In his secret closet is a minia­ture float­ing world where ev­ery­one looks like him, but his new love threat­ens this planet’s ex­is­tence. Trailer: https://youtu.be/XUfCTUP1Fvg dude­film.net Mex­ico Di­rec­tor: Ale­jan­dro Rios Pro­duced by: Edith Sieck Qual­i­fy­ing Win: Guadala­jara Int’l Film Festival Rigo Mora Award for Best Mex­i­can An­i­mated Short Film Synop­sis: A stray cat en­coun­ters an old man who in­vites him into his home, com­fort­ing him with milk and ca­resses. But love is a com­plex feel­ing, and there are se­crets hid­den be­hind the door of ev­ery warm home. Trailer: https://vimeo.com/159744875 USA/South Korea Di­rec­tor: Kang­min Kim Pro­duced by: Stu­dio Zazac Qual­i­fy­ing Win: An­i­mated Film Synop­sis: In the sum­mer of 1992, a boy named Du­jung goes to a farm in the sub­urbs with his parents. While his parents be­lieve the ex­pen­sive and rare spe­cialty from the farm will strengthen their son, Du­jung suf­fers side ef­fects. stu­dioza­zac.com U.K. Direc­tors: Nina Gantz Pro­duced by: Em­i­lie Jouf­froy; Na­tional Film and Tele­vi­sion School Qual­i­fy­ing Wins: BAFTA for Bri­tish Short An­i­ma­tion; RiverRun Int’l Film Festival Best An­i­mated Short; Sun­dance Film Festival Short Film Jury Award — An­i­ma­tion Synop­sis: Ed­mond’s im­pulse to love and be close to oth­ers is strong — maybe too strong. As he stands by a lake con­tem­plat­ing his op­tions, he re­flects on his defin­ing mo­ments in search of the ori­gin of his de­sires. www.ni­na­gantz.com South Korea/ France Di­rec­tor: Da­hee Jeong Pro­duced by: Da­hee Jong, Ron Dyens; Be­tween the Pic­tures, Sacre­bleu Prod. Qual­i­fy­ing Win: Hiroshima Int’l An­i­ma­tion Festival Grand Prize Synop­sis: A med­i­ta­tion on be­ing and loss as time flows on, re­flected by the traces left be­hind in a room. The room has al­most noth­ing but time. jeong­da­hee.com/the-empty Great Bri­tain Di­rec­tor: Phil Mul­loy Pro­duced by: Spec­tre Films Qual­i­fy­ing Win: An­i­mafest Za­greb Grand Prix Best Short Film Synop­sis: Af­ter a tough week at the of­fice, Richard and Ge­orge like to play war games over the week­end to re­lax. A dis­pas­sion­ate at­mos­phere and min­i­mal­is­tic style be­lie the grow­ing bru­tal­ity of their pas­time. philmul­loy.tv USA Di­rec­tor: Carter Boyce Pro­duced by: DePaul Uni­ver­sity Qual­i­fy­ing Win: Stu­dent Academy Award for An­i­ma­tion — Bronze Medal Synop­sis: A lonely fig­urine, trav­el­ing on a fixed track, tries to catch a red bal­loon. When the ma­chine breaks down, the boy comes to life, and at­tempts to fin­ish the cy­cle he was orig­i­nally des­tined to be on for­ever. Trailer: https://vimeo.com/131721816 carter­boyce.com Swe­den Di­rec­tor/ Pro­ducer: Peter Lars­son Qual­i­fy­ing Win: Nordisk Panorama Best Nordic Short Film Synop­sis: A group of lost bod­ies wan­der through a for­est to­ward an open field. A gath­er­ing with an un­clear pur­pose takes place. The story comes alive through the stop-mo­tion film’s tex­ture and at­mos­phere rather than via tra­di­tional sto­ry­telling. pe­ter­lars­son.se USA Direc­tors: Britto Pro­duced by: Ben Cohen, Brett Pot­ter, Lu­cas Leyva, Den­nis Scholl Qual­i­fy­ing Wins: Palm Springs ShortFest Best An­i­mated Short; SXSW An­i­mated Shorts Jury Award Synop­sis: An as­tro­naut re­calls a glove he lost in space and where it may have gone in this charm­ing an­i­mated med­i­ta­tion on the spirit of hu­man en­deavor. alex­al­imhaas.com Aus­tralia Di­rec­tor/ Pro­ducer: Qual­i­fy­ing Win: Syd­ney Film Festival Yo­ram Gross An­i­ma­tion Award Synop­sis: An un­ex­pected chal­lenge arises from the depths of a warm, dreamy af­ter­noon at the lo­cal pool. Shad­ows from the past bear down on the present as Lou is forced to face the truth about her­self and the stub­born, enig­matic step­daugh­ter she is try­ing to love. grace­un­der­wa­ter.com Czech Repub­lic Di­rec­tor: Jan Saska Pro­duced by: Kamila Dohnalová; Stu­dio FAMU Qual­i­fy­ing Win: Gua­na­ju­ato Int’l Film Festival Best Short An­i­ma­tion Synop­sis: A black com­edy about death

Laura Har­ri­son Olga Poliek­tova, Ta­tiana Poliek-

Ma­teusz Sad­owski In­dia Di­rec­tor: Ishan Shukla Pro­duced by: Sharad Varma L.A. Shorts Fest Best Show Me Shorts — Light-

5. Dis­ney film fea­tur­ing a young girl nav­i­ga­tor Di­rec­tor of

and bolts of song struc­ture and con­nect­ing with an au­di­ence when he was only 16, play­ing gui­tar for a lo­cal top-40 band in L.A. bars. Af­ter meet­ing com­poser Hans Zimmer, through his then-wife, who was the head of DreamWorks’ mu­sic divi­sion, he be­gan ar­rang­ing and co-pro­duc­ing songs for the stu­dio’s fea­tures. “I played gui­tar on the scores for Shrek and Antz with Harry Greg­son-Wil­liams and John Pow­ell,” Ja­cob says. “Then, Dis­ney TV An­i­ma­tion’s mu­sic depart­ment hired me to write theme songs, which led to my work as a com­poser and song pro­ducer for Phineas and Ferb.”

Coin­ci­den­tally, com­posers Greg­sonWil­liams and Zimmer also play parts in how Tony Mo­rales got his first job in the busi­ness. Mo­rales, who is work­ing on Dis­ney TV’s new se­ries Elena of Avalor, first met Greg­sonWil­liams, who was good friends with one of his room­mates, in 1998. “I gave Harry my com­poser demo cas­sette to pass on to any­one in­ter­ested in lis­ten­ing,” says Mo­rales. “That demo got me a call to com­pose mu­sic for a Block­buster Video com­mer­cial that was be­ing pro­duced through a divi­sion of Hans Zimmer’s Me­dia Ven­tures. That com­mer­cial was a suc­cess, and soon af­ter, I found my­self as a staff com­poser in the com­mer­cial depart­ment for the fol­low­ing year.” A Dif­fer­ent Beast from Live-Ac­tion? So, is com­pos­ing mu­sic for an­i­ma­tion re­ally that dif­fer­ent from cre­at­ing mu­sic for live­ac­tion projects? Yes and no. For one thing, an­i­mated projects of­ten de­mand wall-to-wall mu­sic, which is not the case with live-ac­tion films. Com­posers also need to turn around the mu­sic on a much tighter sched­ule — of­ten in one or two weeks for a se­ries. Then, of course, there’s the va­ri­ety of sto­ries that an­i­ma­tion can of­fer.

“I of­ten find sto­ries in an­i­ma­tion to be more col­or­ful and di­verse in their sto­ry­telling, ad­ven­tures and sce­nar­ios than many live-ac­tion projects,” says Ryan Shore, the man be­hind the mu­sic of Penn Zero: Part­Time Hero and this year’s ac­claimed doc­u­men­tary Floyd Nor­man: An An­i­mated Life. “I have a very spe­cial place in my heart for an­i­ma­tion and an­i­ma­tors since the very first scor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties I had were an­i­ma­tions. … I also find that many an­i­mated projects, par­tic­u­larly fea­ture an­i­ma­tions, can of­fer a longer pe­riod of time in pro­duc­tion and post-pro­duc­tion than many live-ac­tion fea­tures, and this ex­tra time al­lows me more time to think about the story, the char­ac­ters, the emo­tions, the themes, etc.”

For Mo­rales, an­i­mated projects de­mand much more at­ten­tion to de­tail. “Ev­ery note counts, and there are a lot of notes re­quired!” he says. “You have to bal­ance the emo­tional needs of the score with the comedic beats that need to hit pic­ture ac­tions. Mar­ry­ing the two is a chal­lenge.”

Kli­esch says he doesn’t treat scor­ing Sofia the First any dif­fer­ently than he would a live­ac­tion film. “Each episode has its own story arc that needs to be dra­mat­i­cally sup­ported by the mu­sic,” he says. “I never write down to the tar­get de­mo­graphic (3- to 7-year old chil­dren) — that is, I never in­ten­tion­ally make the mu­sic sound like it was meant for kids. I al­ways want the mu­sic to have a sense of com­plex­ity and ma­tu­rity while still sup­port­ing the pic­ture.”

Fred­erik Wied­mann, whose cred­its in­clude Miles from To­mor­row­land, All Hail King Julien and Be­ware the Bat­man, brings up the pluses and mi­nuses of work­ing with­out a temp score. “I can’t speak for all an­i­mated projects, but the ones that I have worked on never had a tem­po­rary score,” he says. “So I am work­ing with bare ma­te­rial, vi­su­als — some­times even un­fin­ished/ un-ren­dered — and voice-over and, rarely, sound ef­fects. This re­quires a lot of imag­i­na­tion, since I only have the ver­bal con­ver­sa­tion about the mu­sic and its dra­matic needs. It can be in­tim­i­dat­ing, but also in­cred­i­bly ful­fill­ing. Temp scores can of­ten be re­strict­ing, but hav­ing none opens up many more pos­si­bil­i­ties.” Se­crets of Their Suc­cess Many of the com­posers in­ter­viewed for this piece agree that im­mer­sion in dif­fer­ent mu­si­cal styles and learn­ing ev­ery­thing you need to know about the toon mu­sic busi­ness are key to gain­ing en­try into this com­pet­i­tive field.

“You’ll need to have a good grasp of al­most ev­ery style of mu­sic imag­in­able, since you may be asked to write it at some point in the fu­ture,” says Kli­esch. “Also, you’ll need to be very, very good with tech­nol­ogy, since al­most ev­ery­thing is done in­side the com­puter. About 99 per­cent of what you hear on Sofia the First comes from my home stu­dio setup con­sist­ing of three com­put­ers play­ing back sam­ples; the other 1 per­cent is the oc­ca­sional live player I’ll record from time to time. But oth­er­wise, it’s just me act­ing as the com­poser, or­ches­tra­tor, per­former, en­gi­neer, recordist and mu­sic edi­tor.”

“Tech­nol­ogy ad­vances are tools in your arse­nal,” says Ja­cob. “Learn­ing to play an in­stru­ment is es­sen­tial. When I’m stuck on a mu­si­cal chal­lenge, I pick up my fa­vorite Gib­son Les Paul gui­tar and just play. Study from the master com­posers, from Mahler and John Wil­liams to (Led) Zep­pelin, and when an op­por­tu­nity comes along to do spec work, jump at the chance.”

Drake be­lieves in learn­ing ev­ery­thing you can about the com­posers you ad­mire and how they work. “You have to be very cre­ative about your ap­proach,” he says. “Watch all the be­hind-the-scenes in­ter­views on YouTube. Go out there and meet young an­i­ma­tors and film­mak­ers. They are go­ing to be mak­ing the big an­i­mated hits of to­mor­row, and they’ll re­mem­ber you if you’re good. You need to max­i­mize your chances of get­ting hired.”

And of course, don’t for­get that it’s not all about the busi­ness. “Make sure to live life out­side of our in­dus­try as well, be­cause re­gard­less of the hat you wear, we’re all sto­ry­tellers, and so the more life you live and ex­pe­ri­ences you have, the more depth you’ll have as a per­son to of­fer to the projects you’re scor­ing,” says Shore. “I’d also ad­vise peo­ple to be very pa­tient, as these ca­reers can take a long time to de­velop. Meet as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble, al­ways be part of the so­lu­tion and never stop learn­ing. This last piece of ad­vice may sound ob­vi­ous, how­ever, be a good per­son to oth­ers.” [

I Like Girls (J’aime les filles) tells sto­ries of women fall­ing in love with other women for the first time and won the top shorts honor at Ot­tawa. Diane Obom­sawin al­ter­nates be­tween an­i­ma­tion and graphic nov­els.

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