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Feature Film

Dreamworks announces “Me and My Shadow”

Variety is reporting that DreamWorks Animation has announced a March 2013 release date for Me and My Shadow, a new 3-D animated feature which will combine CG with traditional animation, a first for the company.

According to the Variety article:

“Shadow” tells the story of Shadow Stan, an incredibly frustrated shadow that yearns for a more dynamic life but happens to be stuck with Stanley Grubb, the world’s most boring human. Eventually pushed to the brink, Shadow Stan breaks the singular rule of the Shadow World — “they lead, we follow” — and takes control of Stanley.

Steve Bencich and Ron Friedman’s original screenplay is being revised by the writing team of Tom Astle and Matt Ember (Get Smart). “Shadow” will combine “the time-honored tradition of hand-drawn animation with the magical sophistication of CG characters and worlds in ways that have never been experienced by audiences before,” Damaschke said.

In the toon, the Shadow and everything in the Shadow World will be hand-drawn, while the human character and human world will be CG. The movie will alternate between the two worlds.

Mark Dindal (Chicken Little, The Emperor’s New Groove) is directing. Other members of the team include head of story Shane Prigmore and production designers Scott Wills and Raymond Zibach. Since there is no production art available, the photo above is from Spy Shadow, a 1967 DePatie Freleng TV cartoon shown on NBC Saturday Mornings. I predict the new DW feature will be a lot funnier than this.

  • droosan

    As opposed to SINBAD: LEGEND OF THE SEVEN SEAS, where DreamWorks combined traditional animation with CG creatures .. which was (apparently) a -totally- different thing.

    But, yay! Mark Dindal is back in animation..! ^_^ Though, this probably means that his live-action project fell apart. -_-

    Definitely looking forward to his take on this already quirky concept!

    • red pill junkie

      Agreed. Prince of Egypt also had a lot of CGI effects in it.

  • Martyn

    Sweet, really digging some of the announcements coming out of Dreamworks of late.

    Dear DW, you are doing a lot of things right, for that I will tip my hat towards the.

  • Steven M.

    Well, thats something. I just hope Dreamworks knows what they’re doing.

    • red pill junkie

      I actually hope the opposite. Because if they know what they’re doing, that means they’re only repeating themselves, and not doing anything innovative ;)

  • Kurt

    Disney TV animation had a project in development in the early 1990’s, called “Shadow People” that never happened because they couldn’t use live actors combined with their 2D animated shadows due to SAG restrictions. There is also Hans Christian Andersen’s adult short story “The Shadow”, never done in live action or animation, a likely far superior tale than anything lying around presently. This “Me and My Shadow” may have been inspired by that Low T commercial, airing every seven minutes on cable. The concept has certainly been around a long time, just waiting for the right execution. If they license the classic, now-forgotten Billy Rose/Dave Dreyer/Al Jolson song, maybe Dreamworks will nail it.

    • I was going to mention the Andersen story. Nice to know I’m not the only one who’s read it! It would make such a wonderfully creepy movie, but this DW announcement sounds like basically the same concept taken in the completely opposite direction.

    • What SAG restriction?

    • Never heard about the “Shadow People” concept from WDTVA. SAG having a contractual issue with mixing live-action and 2D sounds a bit bizarre, i guess because people from two different unions would be working on the same shots? If it was true at that time, I severely doubt it is still the case. In the past 20 years, different visual effects and other (for lack of a better word) gimmickry have become so common in both film and TV, that I don’t think this would be a hurdle anymore. In fact, shows like “Out of Jimmy’s Head” probably wouldn’t be possible if such restrictions were still in place.

      Anyway, this Dreamworks idea could be good if they give it at least the same level of originality and cleverness as Megamind or How To Train Your Dragon. The concept could easily slip into the cliche if not handled well, but it could be a lot of fun, done right.

  • Darkblader

    Will dreamworks head back to 2D animation if this does well?

  • Iritscen

    Nice to hear that, in the midst of this 3D fad, someone approved an idea that has a completely 2D aspect to it.

  • Pete Bangs

    Am I the only one concerned that the story is being worked on by the team behind the abysmal Get Smart?

    • They aren’t working on the project anymore, Pete. We have a great crew on this thing. Trust me when I say it’s going to be special.

  • Paul D

    I think it’s great news! Good stuff.

  • Jim

    Wow, this sounds really interesting. Props to Dreamworks for taking on something like this.

    And it’s nice to see Mark Dindal make a return to animation. “Emperor’s New Groove” and “Cats Don’t Dance” are amazing films.

  • This is great news for DreamWorks.

    Now that Disney is back in the game let’s hope things get moving at the Mouse House and not squander this opportunity.

  • Corey

    That sounds amazing!!

  • amid

    I saw some pretty pictures from this a few months ago, and I thought Dindal + hand-drawn/CG combo + wonderful art + DreamWorks = WOW! Lots of potential here.

  • snip234

    So Disney loses another director. Go fig. Directors aren’t usually stuck with any one studio these days, but they usually do.

    Dindal + DreamWorks = One Odd-ball Cartoon

    • One Oddball GREAT cartoon. Count on it!

    • I can’t wait myself! Emperor’s New Groove is one of my favorite films where a lot of the influence was drawn from Tex Avery and Chuck Jones! When odd ball and animation come to mind this day and age, I’d make the association to Dindal as well!

  • Darkblader

    Amid, lets hope they dont mess this up during production. This sounds completely good.

  • Jon

    Me and the Shadow sounds like a way for DWA to do a hybrid film without live action and a return to traditional animation after ten years although they have dabbled with it with films like Kung Fu Panda and the HTTYD short film.

    I think they were considering a live action/CGI hybrid with Imaginary Enemies, would be interesting to see DWA tackle a animated/live action hybrid as they hasn’t been a great one since Roger Rabbit.

  • Jay Sabicer

    The top artwork is from Spy Shadow, a segment of DePatie-Freleng’s ‘Super President’, isn’t it? I barely remember it, but recognized the 60’s styling.

  • Based on the team members listed here and the basic concept, this has a LOT of promise. I hope it’s great! It should at least be nice to look at.

  • James E. Parten

    Looks promising. DWA has been on a roll of late. Let us see if they can keep it up until 2013.

    The idea of a shadow working independently of its human can be traced back even before “Spy Shadow”. I’m surprised that nobody has mentioned “Q. T. Hush”, whose shadow, named Quincy, worked independently.

    You could even take it back to Tex Avery’s “Thugs With Dirty Mugs”, wherein Killer Diller complains that there are too many of the crooks sneaking around the home of Mrs. Lotts Jewels, and that the shadows should go and keep a watch on the front door.

    Getting back to “Spy Shadow”, both this and “Super President” (which was the main show) were examples of a studio (DePatie-Freleng) trying something it had never done before, and doing it hamfistedly. Having said that, I’d still like to see the complete manifests of these shows, if they should ever show up.

  • Alissa

    Sounds very, very interesting. Shadow possession eh? Like Ratatouille’s people puppet effect or actual jump-into-body and wear it like a suit possession? Either way it sounds fun.

  • MC

    What exactly happened with Chicken Little? Cats Don’t Dance and New Groove are great, so I’ve always assumed some shenanigans behind the scenes on Chicken.

    • Two words: David Stainton. His chubby fingerprints are all over Chicken Little.

  • Ryoku

    Sounds interesting, but I hope they work on the story more.

    “Normal guy that wants something more” has been done enough.

  • This looks promising, hopefully it’ll get made, Dreamworks is slowly phasing out its pop culture jokes formula for new ideas, as evidenced by KFP and HTTYD

  • dbenson

    And nobody mentioned that Princess and the Frog did some very cool stuff with shadows, particularly the Shadow Man’s own — doing stuff that complemented his moves instead of mirroring them. It’s worth reviewing that film to see what’s going on in the background of some scenes.

  • Personally, going by the synopsis of this idea, I think it would work a lot better as a short – say between 7 – 11 minutes – than a full-budget feature-length with celebrity voices and cameos up the whazoo.

    “Short but sweet” works much easier for Pixar in terms of storytelling and animation….especially since I witnessed their inventive combination of 2D and CGI animation for “Day and Night”. Possibly something for Katzenburg to take notes on amongst the sequel scripts on his desk.

  • Jody Morgan

    Somehow I’d been under the impression that Mark Dindal was very unpopular with the commentariat of this site; I’m glad to be proven mistaken, as I really love ‘Cats Don’t Dance’ and ‘The Emperor’s New Groove’. (And even ‘Chicken Little’, messy and slack though it is, has enough good stuff that I’m happy I saw it.) It’s also refreshing to see Amid jazzed about a DreamWorks production. I’ll definitely plan to see this one, and pray it doesn’t get messed up too badly on its way to the big screen.

  • Always excited for more Dindal.

  • I love cats don’t dance ! Mark dindall always has great snappy timing
    in his films ….Combined with the other talent mentioned …could be fantastic

  • Yvette Kaplan

    I’ll pipe in to say I’m REALLY excited too to hear about an upcoming Mark Dindal pic!! And one that sounds odd and clever, which is what he does so well– well, that’s just terrific!

  • And the director will be fired by the time the movie comes out.

  • Yeah! To everyone that complains that Hollywood needs to stop recycling the same animated movie plots over and over again, this may be your answer! Okay it would be great to see a lot more films doing something fresh, but at least we got someone making an attempt! Hope it moves along well!

  • Stephen Levinson

    When Katzenberg came to CalArts and told us about the project I think we were all amazed. I am. Can’t wait for it!

  • Some Girl

    Funny that how people were losing hope in DW and wanted Disney to bring back 2d. Things have taken a different direction..and I like it.

  • Cool. Excited to her Mark Dindal is directing. Emperor’s New Groove is still one of my favorites. This story idea sounds really fun.