This report is part of Rotoscopers’ coverage of the 2016 Annecy International Animated Film Festival. Check these links here for more news throughout the week, as well as this link here for live updates, videos, drawings, and more!
While Guillermo Del Toro is often seen and heralded as geek royalty, he’s also established a solid foothold in the world of animation as well. At DreamWorks Animation, he was the executive producer on films such as Puss in Boots, Rise of the Guardians, Kung Fu Panda 2 and 3, in addition to being the producer on Reel FX’s The Book of Life as well as lending his voice to the animated film anthology Extraordinary Tales.
So there’s little surprise that he was technically treated like animation royalty at Annecy 2016, with his masterclass session on Wednesday being one of the big highlights of the festival. Hosted by Variety’s Peter Debruge and joined at the end by special guest Jeffery Katzenberg – former CEO of DreamWorks Animation and the current head of DreamWorks New Media – Guillermo Del Toro gave the attending audience an exclusive look at footage from his upcoming DWA-Netflix series Trollhunters.
The footage, which consisted of a two minute sizzle reel and ten minutes of clips and scenes, begins with a sequence which occurs after Jim has discovered a mysterious amulet. He visits his school teacher to tell him of the two ogres that visited him the other night, but holds back from a true explanation. The next sequence shows Jim harnessing the powers of the amulet, which in turn grants him a suit of armor and a sword that can penetrate rock.
In the final sequence, Jim faces off against gigantic green ogre with the help of his troll friend and a food-obsessed friend from his high-school. Described as a ‘spectacular’ action sequence, the fight takes place in a gladiatorial arena where the ‘ring’ is a circular plinth with a high perch. It appears that Jim is facing certain death, or at least that is what he and his friends think.
After the footage rolled, Del Toro and Katzenberg elaborated on the origins of the show. Originally, Del Toro pitched Trollhunters as a film to DreamWorks Animation, until he realized that the mythology of the universe he created would require more than one film. “the more we talked about, the more it looked like a [movie] trilogy and I said, ‘I’m too old to do a trilogy,’” recalled Katzenberg.
Thus, both Del Toro and Katzenberg agreed on the idea of animated TV series, a format that would give Del Toro more room to tell, in Katzenberg’s words, “a much more epic and sweeping story.”
But even then, unlike other DWA-Netflix shows, Trollhunters is still shot and framed like a movie. As Del Toro states: “We tried to go for lightning that is not common in TV animation, dramatic, very dark, very moody, with a lot of cinematic lightning. In the series, we couldn’t texture and grain like a feature but I can tried to tell the story in a way that is beautiful.”
His other big inspiration for the animation style of Trollhunters is a very big one for animation lovers: Hayao Miyazaki. “I love teaching my kids the beauty of mistakes in animation. When Mizayaki has a father try to put his shoe on and fail twice, that’s something that takes a day to make [in animation].”
That level of imperfection is reflected in the first sequence, where Jim tries to sit in a revolving seat at his desk but it takes him three tries to adjust the seat to the right height.
The series will alternate between high-school drama and big, fantastical adventures with trolls and ogres. Jim’s relationship with his mother will also be a big storyline in the series and, in true Del Toro fashion, the series will be rich in mythology and steeped in a fully-rounded universe with vast potential for multiple stories should the series take off.
As previously revealed in the last article, Marc Guggenheim (The CW’s Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow) and Christina Steinberg (Rise of the Guardians) are joining Del Toro as executive producers, with Dan and Kevin Hageman (The LEGO Movie, writers on The LEGO Ninjago Movie) as co-executive producers and Chad Hammes (Dragons: Race to the Edge) as producer.
Anton Yelchin (of Star Trek fame) will voice the lead role of Jim. TV vet Kelsey Grammer will lend his voice to the role of a character described as a “kindly troll who helps Jim.” Ron Pearlman, a Del Toro regular, will utilize his impressive vocals in the role of Bular, described as “a sinister troll who targets Jim and his friends for battle.”
Trollhunters premieres on Netflix this December.
What do you think? Are you going to watch Trollhunters on Netflix in December?