The unique thing about recent reports on DreamWorks Dragons: Race to the Edge is that we are (as the above image tells us) a month away from the show’s premier and yet we don’t have any clips yet. But, if fans dig deep enough, they can find the occasional interview or random nugget of information that pops up out of the blue.
In this case, we found one more WonderCon interview with executive producers/showrunners Art Brown and Douglas Sloan (conducted by a blogger) in two parts.
You can watch the first part here:
And the second part here:
Much of what you’ll hear in these two parts are things you will already know about if you read our previous articles. But, as is the case, we did find out some new things about the series. So, let’s break this new information down (in chronological order):
Doug and Art elaborated more on Dean’s involvement. Essentially, they break the season to him and show him the direction that they will go in for that particular season. This is so Dean can point out something and say, “can you adjust this, because I might do something similar in the next movie” (not his exact quote).
The first season (Riders of Berk) was where producers had the most trouble, as they didn’t have any idea what the second film would be like. “We were writing in the dark,” says Sloan. But, once they got closer to How to Train Your Dragon 2 and they were able to find out about the film’s plot, they had a much clearer idea of where the show would go when it came time to move to Netflix. This being the case, there were certain subjects that they couldn’t breach (Valka and Stoick’s fate were two examples they pointed out). However, they can build up to things that were in the second movie (like the flight suit and the dragon blade).
Dean’s not the only one they check in with. They also talk to Bonnie Arnold (the films’ producer) and Greg Taylor (executive for the show) to help keep the continuity straight.
The fact that we are later in the timeline and that the characters are now older kids gave Doug Brown and Art Sloan the freedom to tell “different types of stories.” Also, DreamWorks’ partnership with Netflix gave them the freedom to tell the stories the way that DreamWorks wants them to be told. In the case of Dragons, this also gave Doug and Art the freedom to do the same.
For Race to the Edge, Netflix wanted something completely new. Something that “looked different, felt different, sounded different.” Needless to say, we’re in for a completely different show in comparison to Riders/Defenders. Brown and Sloan also mentioned that the level of animation for Race to the Edge is something that couldn’t have been accomplished in previous seasons.
When asked if the plan was always to have another few seasons that led up to How to Train Your Dragon 2, Brown noted that the plan for the series was always to tell ground level stories that feature the characters and their dragons. Once the show became successful, they then began to plan for something ‘further.’ However, they didn’t know what this would be at that time. Once How to Train Your Dragon 2 was fully formed, they were able to formulate a plan.
Brown even mentions that How to Train Your Dragon 2 ends on a cliffhanger of sorts and that How to Train Your Dragon 3 picks up shortly after this cliffhanger. So, for producers, there wasn’t much they could do with the short timespan between Dragons 2 and 3, which led them to choose a point in the time jump between Dragons 1 and 2 that was closer to the second movie.
According to Doug Sloan, they initially had no idea if they would portray the characters as older kids or younger kids when they first started out. Brown added that they wrote the first ten scripts as “age neutral.” This way, they could go either way in terms of the characters’ ages.
As they spoke about the animation process, Art Brown and Doug Sloan noted that the animation work is shared between them and artists in places like China. The animation teams also have access to assets from How to Train Your Dragon 2 along with the stuff that they create.
As for the creation of the dragons, Brown and Sloan said they often delve into original artwork created for the short film Book of Dragons for inspiration. They also tend to mix and match certain dragons to come up with new ones. And, as noted before, the abilities of the dragons are all based on abilities that exist in the animal kingdom.
Brown and Sloan even take time to address the fandom. They give a shout-out to Brooke Chalmers (his tumblr is here), who is very much in touch with the fandom (his walls, as described, are papered with fan art). They even address ‘Hiccstrid’ fans. “They want it so bad. They just want them to get together,” says Brown.
Immediately afterward, Brown even confirms that there will be romance in Race to the Edge. They won’t lean too heavily into it, but being on Netflix has given them some leeway to let these elements in.
Brown also dropped an entirely new piece of information: Fishlegs will have a girlfriend in Race to the Edge, but it’s not who you think it is. “Fishlegs is involved in a romantic relationship with someone, but it’s not Ruffnut,” Brown said. But, they did reiterate that once these seasons start to bump up against How to Train Your Dragon 2, they will have set up the Ruffnut-Fishlegs-Snotlout triangle.
Because Brown and Sloan get to spend more time with the individual characters, episodes are planned out to where they can devote certain episodes to certain characters. We will even get some “interesting” pairings. Even though Hiccup and Toothless remain the most important relationship in the franchise (and there will be episodes devoted to them), it was imperative that they also highlight and flesh out the other characters as well.
The jump in animation and visuals is always taken into consideration when the episodes are written. In fact, Race to the Edge visual effects supervisor (David Jones) always tells the group to “write things that we can’t do,” as a challenge for them to do it. If there is something they truly can’t do, then they figure out a way to adjust accordingly.
They always try to find new levels within the characters that the films don’t have the time to explore. In the case of the twins, they always try to find new ways of doing comedy.
They don’t really take into account the high-def parameters of Netflix when the show is made. However, they do say, “the show will look better on Netflix than it ever did on broadcast.”
Despite that they are on Netlflix, the seasons have a pretty typical (as far as broadcast and cable) number of episodes (26). They will both be split into 13-episode increments that will be released every 6 months.
As far as the future is concerned, there are no definite plans for anything beyond what will eventually be four seasons of the show. What producers do know is that they will have plenty of stories to tell in the meantime.
Animation-wise, there were things that couldn’t be attempted on Riders/Defenders that they were definitely able to do in Race to the Edge. These were things that were either left on the cutting room floor or were fought for but rejected.
So, this closes the book (hopefully) on what we have learned from this year’s WonderCon. This being said, stay tuned later this week as we have another interview to report, this time from a very familiar source (that isn’t WonderCon)!
Dragons: Race to the Edge will premiere exclusively for Netflix on June 26.
Do you have any thoughts on what was presented in this WonderCon interview?
Brandon is your average nerd with a love for nerdy things (games, comics, anime/manga, etc.). He also loves reading and writing and plans to be an author someday. For now, he writes with passion and curiosity about the world of animation. He lives with his family in North Carolina and is currently attending college.