DreamWorks Dragons: Race to the Edge will premiere on Netflix quite soon (in 27 days to be exact). While we’ve not just reached the point when we should get clips or trailers sometime soon, this hasn’t stopped us learning quite a lot about what to expect from the show.
Now that we’ve closed the book on any new information we could find from WonderCon, I would like to turn our readers’ attention to another interview from a familiar source. Remember when Berk’s Grapevine held an open thread in which fans could ask questions of executive producers/showrunners Art Brown and Douglas Sloan? While Douglas Sloan was kind enough to answer a few of those questions on his own, the site owner and moderator of Berk’s Grapevine (who goes by the name IcelandicEel) took up the task of combining all of these questions into full, in-depth interview for us to chew on.
In chronological order, here’s what we learned from the interview:
- With the show as a whole, Art and Doug try to strike a balance between appealing to the hardcore fans who have been there since the beginning and grew up with the Dragons franchise, and being accessible to newcomers.
- While this may seem obvious at this stage, Race to the Edge will now see Hiccup and the Dragon Riders on their own for the first time: “It’s sort of like they’re going away to college,” Sloan said. We will see them travel outside the archipelago and learn to handle situations without the help or guidance of the adult figures that they’ve had to rely on in the past (Stoick, Gobber, Gothi, etc.). As 18/19-year olds, they will definitely be solving problems a little differently than they have in the past.
- Also, because they are effectively on their own, the characters will begin to develop deeper bonds and relationships with each other and with their dragons.
- The Riders have what is called the “Dragon’s Edge,” which is an outpost they have built on an island just outside Berk. This will essentially act as the Riders’ headquarters as they explore new lands, meet new people, and confront new dragons.
- Brown and Sloan have mentioned this before, but this season we will spend just as much time with the other Riders as we will with Hiccup and Toothless (the core relationship of the franchise). This being the case, we will have episodes dedicated to certain characters (Fishlegs, Astrid, the twins, etc.). We’ll even get to see different pairings that we haven’t seen previously (Astrid and Tuffnut, Fishelgs and Snotlout, etc.).
- Besides Heather and Dagur, executive producers also confirmed that Gustav (voiced by Lucas Grabeel) will return. He is now 15 years old (he was 12 in Riders/Defenders) and he and his dragon Fanghook are now well adjusted. Like Stoick and Gobber, we will see Gustav from time to time.
- One character who won’t return in Race to the Edge is Alvin. Brown and Sloan don’t specify a reason as to why this is the case, but it’s fair to say that they already told Alvin’s story in Riders/Defenders.
- Dagur will play a huge role this season. He’ll also look very different from the last time we saw him (and he’ll show up sooner than you think). “When you see him in the first episode, he’s been lifting weights, getting buffed up, getting tattoos. He’s been in prison for the last three years, so he’s much more wound up and crazy than ever,” says Brown.
- Race to the Edge takes place three and and half years after the events of Riders/Defenders, and subsequently a year and a half before the events of How to Train Your Dragon 2.
- Throughout the new seasons, we will get to “glimpse” the transformation of Berk into what we see in How to Train Your Dragon 2, as the Riders will get to swing by for an occasional visit.
- For Brown and Sloan, there were really no real constraints on what they could do outside of adhering to the Dragons timeline and being careful not to contradict anything. As long as the characters ended up in the same place we find them at the beginning of How to Train Your Dragon 2, they could tell any story that they want.
- Animation-wise, just about everything has improved from Riders/Defenders. Not only are they now able to do water interaction (which they’ve mentioned before), but now they can do entire crowds and herds of dragons (both of which weren’t possible in Riders/Defenders). Besides from rapidly changing technology, Art and Doug also credited their visual effects supervisor David Jones with the creation of the programs that now allow for a more sophisticated level of animation on the show.
- It takes nine months to a year to complete an episode. First they break the season and come up with the arcs, locations, new characters, and the general direction of the season. From there they move to the outline, and from the outline comes the scripts. Afterward, they go to the animatic stage (a moving storyboard, basically), where they add completed sound effects and music. From that point, everything else comes in (rendering, layout, lighting, etc.).
- One of their biggest challenges is when the writing exceeds the resources available. The number of shots, visual effects, the number of people in a shot, and the number of camera moves are all determined by the producers and the budget of the show. Since Race to the Edge doesn’t have the kind of budget given to DreamWorks Animation’s feature films, there is only so much they can do with what they have to work with. As a result, they try to balance the number of big, epic episodes with smaller, character-focused episodes or episodes centered around a pair of characters.
- Of the 26 episodes that make up Race to the Edge, there will be four ‘two-parters.’ Two will occur at the beginning and the end of the season. The other two will occur somewhere in the middle for the season.
- Race to the Edge will (in a general sense) have a more serialized format than Riders/Defenders. This being said, we will still get the occasional standalone episode: “…for every five episodes, we try to have three of them that are standalone, meaning you could come in not knowing anything, and it’s a new dragon or that sort of thing,” says Sloan.
- The interview ends with the question of what Art Brown and Doug Sloan look forward to for the new seasons. Doug replied that they are excited to see how the reaction of the fans. “For me, I’m just really excited to see what fans who have been with us for a while—like the people on the Grapevine—think about the new show, what they think about the way it looks, whether they’re excited about it and think it looks cool. You’ve been with us since the beginning—you’re our guys. It’s going to be really cool and exciting for us to see the show and get to see what we’ve been doing. You’ll really notice the difference, and that will be the cool thing to me,” says Sloan.
This concludes the interview with Berk’s Grapevine. Now, if only there were some clips to see…
Dragons: Race to the Edge will premiere exclusively for Netflix on June 26.
What do you think? Do you have any thoughts on what we learned from this interview?
Edited by: Hannah Wilkes