Friday, March 13, 2009

Re How to Train Your Dragon

Inside the refurbished Lakeside building over at DreamWorks Animation, work trundles along on Shrek Goes Fourth, added DVD goodies are being created for Monsters Vs. Aliens, and the first DreamWorks animated feature slated for release in 2010, How to Train Your Dragon is rolling into production ...

A staffer on Dragon related:

"We're going to be doing most of the animation on this between now and next Fall. It's kind of a Bolt schedule. [For those who don't know, the bulk of production work on The Tale of the White Doggie was done in a hectic, action-packed nine months.] We won't be working at a slow pace ..."

Walking around, I saw more scenes of Shrek IV being worked on than Dragon, (Shrek in slapstick action with supporting players) yet the ogre lumbers into your local cinema a couple of months after Dragon.

This could mean story is further along on Shrek than Dragon, or it might mean Shrek has more moving parts and needs a longer production schedule, or it might mean ... not much at all.

I have no knowledge of the story development of either picture, and my knowledge of the Dragon story is minimal except for this:

How To Train Your Dragon is a comic adventure set in the mythical world of Vikings ... The story centers around a scrawny teenager who lives in the North Sea on the island of Berk. His Viking tribe, the Hairy Hooligans, live, and all too frequently die, by their motto: Only the Strong Can Belong! Hiccup desperately wants to make his father, the Hooligans’ chief Stoick the Vast and his tribe proud.

Initiation is coming, and all young Vikings must capture and subdue a wild dragon from Dragon Island. But when Hiccup is saddled with an undersized and uncooperative dragon, chances for impressing his tribe and his father look bleak. Yet, in his quest to train his dragon-of-choice, he teaches his father and all of the Hooligans a new definition of strength.

But the way story work has gone on in feature cartoons since the beginning of time is: Act One of the movie gets tied down pretty good, Act II is being firmed up, and Act III is still ... sketchy. But production has started on Act I because, you know, there's a release date looming out there and nobody can lolly gaggle while other story kinks are being worked out. It's move, move, move so the release window and marketing tie-ins don't get screwd up. (Years ago, the middle of Aladdin was retooled while animation was being done, and the name "Baghdad" was changed to "Agrabah" due to a brief war.)

In short, animated features are always in a state of semi-chaotic flux. Climaxes get altered, dialogue is tweaked, and sequences are dropped and added. It's just the way the process of tooning works.

And for whatever reason, HTTYD is going to move at a high rate of speed for the next several months. You've been warned.

23 comments:

g said...

Wasnt it reported here that Chris Sanders came in and re-tooled a lot of the story, hence the now very-rushed schedule?

My heart goes out to you guys and gals who are going to have to crunch for 9 months...it infuriates me that it often comes to this. Marriages and families suffer for the "good of the company." What a shame.

Steve Hulett said...

Not here.

Chris Sanders is working on Crood Awakenings, a cave person epic.

There was another studio developing a prehistoric toon, but it never got beyond early story work before being dropped.

g said...

Dang. I must have bad information. I swear I heard the somewhere...

Anonymous said...

But...Chris Sanders IS directing his retooled "Dragon", with Dean DeBlois.

Isn't he? This isn't secret stuff.

Anonymous said...

http://www.celebrityportal.org/news/movies/new-movies/how-to-train-your-dragon-march-2010/

Anonymous said...

Steve, I would've thought you'd know that Sanders was asked some months ago to put "Crood Awakening" on the backburner, and replace the director of "Dragon." Especially given that there's quite a bit of irony involved.

g said...

Okay, I knew I wasnt going crazy.

Anonymous said...

Your info is incorrect. Also, Chris other film has not been announced. Please keep it private and remove your comment about it.

Anonymous said...

Who are you, the studio Gestapo? This is a public forum, not to mention a free country. If the information is wrong, it's wrong, so what? It's not exactly the Manhattan Project.

g said...

To anon @ 6:52...do you mean Crood Awakening? Its far from secret, isnt it?

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0481499/

Anonymous said...

Thank GOD Dean DuBois is co-director. Without him, the original American Dog story reels were a complete mess and virtually unwatchable.

Anonymous said...

I liked the original American Dog...it was a "much" better movie than Bolt.....and yes, I did see the story reels....I worked on it. :)

Anonymous said...

That's cool--to each their own.

But I will say that of all the people I know who saw those reels (and there are many), you are the first I've heard to have that opinion.

Despite all that, I certainly hope Dragon will be a good film. Looking forward to it.

Anonymous said...

"But I will say that of all the people I know who saw those reels (and there are many)"

No, I am not. They were really amazingly awful. A bunch of great ideas in search of a movie. There was NO movie there.

They were awful.

Floyd Norman said...

Whenever I hear things like this I'm reminded of a Disney movie everyone said was, "a hopeless disaster."

That film turned out to be, "The Lion King."

So, you just never know...

Tom M said...

Man, this semi-chaotic story process in professional studios makes me feel less guilty about where I am with my own work.

I guess it's just as frustrating and time consuming everywhere.

Steve Hulett said...

Steve, I would've thought you'd know that Sanders was asked some months ago to put "Crood Awakening" on the backburner, and replace the director of "Dragon."

Maybe I heard something, but honestly, I don't pay strict attention to who's directing what at any given moment.

I'm not as young as I used to be.

As to my comment about "Awakenings", I got that from IMDB, I think.

I get a call from DWA about deleting an anonymous comment, I'm happy to delete. But nobody's called me.

Anonymous said...

"Whenever I hear things like this I'm reminded of a Disney movie everyone said was, "a hopeless disaster."

That film turned out to be, "The Lion King.""

Yep. You never know. But the reels as they were when Chris Sanders quit were a mess.

Anonymous said...

Who the heck is this idiot who’s on Sanders case?

Did Sanders steal your lunch or is Lasseter still pissed that the guy didn’t submit to his pomposity?

I think Sanders did a lot of good works while at Disney but the powers decided they didn't see eye-to-eye anymore, so they parted ways and guess what, the sun still rises so I think it worked out for everyone. Let's move on...

g said...

The only person losing their cool here is you, sir.

I think its only fair we discuss Sanders when we are talking about his movie and how the artists are going to crunch their brains out due to his changes. Seems to me he is doing the same thing Lasseter did to him, so is it still pompous? What you call pompous, some call "necessary changes."

And this isnt your blog, so you dont have the power to tell anyone to move on.

Anonymous said...

The people who are going to be crunching as you say are paid very well and in today’s economy they’re the lucky ones but at the end of the day if they can’t or don’t want to do the work they can always just leave. I don’t think anyone has a gun pointed at their heads to work at DW or any one place.

It’s obvious from your comments here and the other thread that you are a hater and the world doesn’t need your types. I don’t know whether your anger is driven by competition or maybe DW upset you in some way and to be honest most people don’t care so you can stay or continue with the bashing or not, it is up to you.

PS: I'm afraid you are imagining things if you think anyone is losing their cool here.

g said...

Back up the reality truck here for a second...Im a hater? Im not the one calling people idiots, calling people pompous, and telling people what not to discuss. If thats not losing your cool...

Regardless, I stand by anything I have said on this board, and have been supportive of my fellow artists, who, even though will be paid well in a difficult economy, will have a strenuous 9 months ahead of them. There's more to happiness than money, and being away from your family night and day isnt a good thing.

And the "other thread" you mention, I assume is the MVA thread...all I did was illustrate my dislike for the MVA trailer and character designs, and apparently that struck a chord with you. (for the record, I wasnt rude nor did I stoop to name calling there either, simply expressing my opinion, which I believe is still allowed) Unfortunately you've shown your hand as a (biased?) Dreamworks employee, and thats fine. I like Dreamworks, I just simply stated I dont like their current offering. Is that so bad?

For the record, anger and criticism are two separate things, and I think Ive only exhibited criticism in my posts. If you've interpreted it as anger, you are imagining things.

Anonymous said...

The thread started with wanting to confirm that Sanders was on the project and then it deteriorated to trashing the guys work and subsequently it went into the slave driving rambling. If there is to be any crunching on the project you cannot blame Sanders for it, he was asked to work on the project and I’m sure staying pat on whatever was done wasn’t an option so here we are…I don’t know if the decision to go with Sanders was a good or not but we’ll find out soon enough…

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