Welcome to the Rotoscopers Roundtable, a feature in which the Rotoscopers crew takes one question and gives their answers. If you have a question you’d like us to answer, ask it in the comments below!
This week’s question is “If you could make an animated movie about anything, what would it be about?”
Dragons! That’s my first impulse, but since we already have the ‘How To Train Your Dragon‘ series, I’ll go with something else. I’d love to do a fast-paced sci-fi adventure film. The basic idea is that you have a a human and she craves adventure. She’s an Indiana Jones wannabe.
And this is at a point in time where humans have already mastered space-travel and we’ve probably been involved in a war or two. And to keep morale high, there’s this inter-planetary race/tournament in this post-war galaxy. So it’s like the ‘Hunger Games‘ except instead of kids killing each other, this is adventurous adults competing for glory. Kinda like the Triwizard tournament except IN SPACE!
So you have your Indiana Jones wannabe and she’s all excited and she competes and makes friends and has enemies. So basically it’s ‘Hunger Games‘ meets ‘Goblet of Fire‘ meets ‘Monsters University,’ all of this wrapped up in ‘Tangled‘-like adventure tone and the pace of ‘The LEGO Movie.’ It’s insane and directed by Brad Bird and co-written by Edgar Wright and myself (the writing process involves lots of sugar).
Monsters! Wait, that’s been done. Robots! Oh, that’s done too.
Honestly, since I’ve grown up on the Disney fairytale, it would be an adaptation of one of my favorite books or stories. There are a lot: ‘Heidi,’ ‘The Ugly Duckling,’ ‘The Golden Goose,’ or even ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ all of which I think, warrant animated adaptations.
There was this amazing picture book I read when I was a kid. It’s called ‘Beebleboo and Beeblebean.’ It’s a wonderful story about two worlds on separate sides of a stone wall. Back then, I imagined what it would look like as a movie. Today, I think it would be the perfect animated short, or a movie in the style of ‘Horton Hears a Who!‘ or ‘The Lorax.’ I highly recommend this story to anyone who needs a positive pick-me-up.
So basically, if I were to ever make an animated film, I’d hit up the library first!
‘Frozen 2‘ will be foreign territory for Walt Disney Animation Studios. It marks the first time that the studio is releasing a sequel made relatively shortly after its predecessor and with the same team. Other WDAS sequels have followed decades after the first film. It brings to mind a very intriguing concept to me: What would all of those direct-to-video sequels from DisneyToon Studios be like if WDAS had made them instead? That’s not to say they’re all bad or shouldn’t exist, but I do wonder how they would differ if they followed the ‘Frozen‘/’Toy Story‘ pattern and were developed with the same team and given a substantial budget. Particularly, a theatrical follow-up adventure from WDAS with ‘Aladdin‘ or ‘Lilo & Stitch‘ could have been fantastic if handled with care.
I actually have two dream animation projects:
I think that film noir is tailor-made for animation; noir films are always really stylized and the stories are a little larger-than-life. I think it would be fun to do a 3D-animated noir film. It would be made in black-and-white, with a period setting and the classic story tropes, like the hard-boiled private eye, the femme fatale, and a twisted, weird villain. I think such a film would be great!
My second project is a little more personal. Like my RotoWriter profile says, I’m passionate about rock and pop music. For that reason, I’d love to make an animated musical with garage/blues-rock music. I think the best way to make an animated musical like that would be to do a classic rock-band-origin story like ‘That Thing You Do!‘ or ‘Not Fade Away.’ I would make that film in a very classic style; it would be 3D-animated, but I would ask the crew to give the film a documentary-like look, with de-saturated color and adding a little grain. The film would explore all the drama that comes with starting a band: rifts between bandmates, struggling with record company demands, etc. (Maybe, if I asked nicely, Chelsea might agree to become a technical consultant/songwriter…?) I think that such a film, done well, could be an intriguing, refreshingly different animated film!
This is a difficult question because there are so many stories that could translate well into animation! I would love to see more obscure fairytales in animation, but there are even some recent stories that could translate really well, such as ‘Wildwood‘ by Colin Meloy or even ‘Harry Potter‘ (all I want from life is a beautifully animated Harry Potter tv-series.) Overall, I would just like to see expansions of magical worlds, whether these worlds are adapted from previously existing stories or just something purely new and imaginative. If Pixar decided tomorrow that they were going to create a film about a manatee flying around a colorful forest with a sassy pirate as his best friend, I would probably be first in line for that film (I have no idea where that idea came from, but now I’m starting to think that it would be pretty cool. Pixar, you may email me for the rights.)
Ever since I saw a beautifully crafted storyboard of “Defying Gravity,” the musical ‘Wicked‘ has remained a show I’d love to see make the jump from stage to screen in animated fashion. The storyboard, created by former DreamWorks and Disney artist Heidi Jo Gilbert, really evokes the power and emotion felt when Elphaba flies for the first time; it’s how I felt when I saw the musical in person for the first time. While most successful Broadway musicals end up being live-action films, I can’t remember any that have tried something new and dove into the animated world.
The world of Oz has so many unique and vast landscapes, and the musical has so many animated characters. The songs are just a bonus that would be spectacular to see fully fleshed out in gorgeous CG animated sequences. Unfortunately, a live-action version of Wicked is already in early production. We already know it’s going to be flooded with CG effects anyway, so why not take a risk and turn it into a full-fledged animated picture? I think it’s too late to see the musical manifest itself in this medium, but that’s what dreaming is for!
Jonathan J. North:
Right now the movie that I want to make is something in the vein of ‘Fantasia,’ an animated movie with no dialogue set to music. I want it to be mostly classical music, like ‘Fantasia,’ but not limited to just classical music. I think that there are plenty of other genres that could have an animated sequence that fits their kind of music. One idea for the project would be to use music from various cultures and make the movie a beautiful, animated world tour.
A few examples:
Bluegrass: a historical scene of a barn raising/barn dance.
Jazz: Something film noir-ish. Maybe a detective solving a mystery in 1920’s New York.
Traditional Chinese music: a modern day retelling of a traditional Chinese legend.
Celtic: Something set around the time of the Druids. Maybe set at Stonehenge.
This wouldn’t have to be limited to real world times and places. Something ‘Fantasia’ never explored was science fiction. A massive outer space battle set to Dubstep would be an awesome inclusion. You could even go really avant-garde and use music by a composer who specializes in pattern free (what some call ugly) music, and build an alien civilization around that.
The project could include collaborations with artists and/or composers skilled at doing dialogue free music. People with a unique, recognizable sound would be great for a project like this.
A few ideas: Lindsey Stirling, Owl City, Michael Giaccino, Bond, James Newton Howard, 12 Girls Band, YoYo Ma, DeVotchKa, and John Williams. All are very unique and very capable of composing music that does not need words. Each one would be able to build an entire, unique world with their music.
Even artists who typically do vocal work could conceivably do music for a project like this. Peter Hollens, Pentatonix, and Celtic Woman all have unique sounds that could work amazingly well singing either non-verbal music or something in another language.
As you can tell, I love music almost as much as animation. Pretty much any idea for a story or movie I have I think about what music would go with it. This project would be a perfect melding of my two loves.
What about you? If you could make any animated movie you wanted, what would it be about?
Edited by: Hannah Wilkes