Lotus Entertainment will soon be revealing Mosley, a new independent animated feature from the combined talents of Huhu Studios in New Zealand and China Film Animation. Via Variety, the first official trailer has been released to coincide with its premiere at Berlin’s European Film Market, dated for February 7, 2019.
In development for twenty years, Mosley is the ambitious passion project of Kirby Atkins, entirely directed, written, and storyboarded by himself. The $20 million feature tells the story of the titular four-legged Thoriphant (Atkins) who he and his family endure like as farm slaves. Desperate to escape the cruel lifestyle, Mosley ventures off to find the ancient land of Kinesareth, with a belief that bipedal Thoriphants still exist.
Atkins is a veteran in the animation industry, with his most prolific work being an animator on Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (both the movie and the show) at DNA Productions. His most recent film credits include character animation on Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip and Steven Spielberg’s The BFG, both done at Weta Digital in Wellington, New Zealand.
Unlike most animated movies, Mosey takes a rather unique approach with it’s casting, as the titular protagonist is voiced by Atkins himself. Furthermore, his daughter Leah voices Mosley’s child, which she recorded back in 2004 at the age of seven. While Atkins would record his voice professionally later, Leah’s initial recordings will be featured in the finished film.
Speaking of voices, Mosley will also feature a cast of prolific actors, including Kiwi talents like Rhys Darby (Trolls), Temuera Morrison (Moana), and Lucy Lawless (Justice League: The New Frontier), as well as Welsh actor John Rhys Davies (Cats Don’t Dance).
As a co-production between New Zealand’s Huhu Studios and China Film Animation, Mosley marks as the first cinematic collaboration between the two countries. Another interesting tidbit to note is that Mulan‘s Tony Bancroft (who also co-directed of the partially-Chinese animated feature Animal Crackers) is involved in the film as an executive producer.
Huhu Studios was founded in 1996 and is based in Warkworth, a town located north of Auckland. They are best known for making computer-animated children’s shows such as Buzz & Poppy, VeggieTales, and Sinbad & the Seven Galaxies.
When released, Mosley will be the fourth animated feature created in New Zealand. The first being Murray Ball’s Footrot Flats: The Dog’s Tale in 1986, followed by Weta Digital’s The Adventures of Tintin in 2011, and the animated World War I documentary 25 April released in 2015.
Rialto New Zealand and China Film Group Corporation will handle the film’s distribution in its countries of origin. Lotus has also pre-sold it to several Eastern European countries, Israel, the Middle East, Portugal, South Africa, Vietnam, and Australia (also handled by Rialto). General release dates are yet to be announced.
Mosley producer Daniel Story told Variety about the ambition behind the independent feature:
“It’s a visually stunning movie, and I’ve been in awe of the collaborative work of artists in New Zealand and China. The film has scope and power and can easily stand alongside any big studio project. I think we’re about to break the rules for what an animated feature film can do in the independent space.”
That above quote seems pretty accurate to describe Mosley so far. Through the trailer alone, Atkins’ dedication to the project is clearly prominent, especially with the original premise, the potentially-powerful story and the nice aesthetic. Even with the trailer’s uplifting tone and feel, it goes to show you don’t need pop songs and forced comedy to sell an animated movie. As a New Zealander myself, this is something I’m very intrigued to check out, and I would recommend reading about Mosley‘s dedicated development history on Atkins’ website.