Rodolphe Guenoden, a cornerstone of Dreawmorks’ founding animation crew, is leaving to direct The Bravest, a a 40 million euros (US$44 million) centered around the lives of New York firefighters.

The Bravest is being set up for production in Montreal, Canada, where it will be produced by L’Atelier Animation, which recently wrapped on Ballerina. The producers of the film, Laurent Zeitoun and Yann Zenou, made the second-highest-grossing French film of all-time, 2011’s The Intouchables, and they are also the producers of Ballerina. They are developing The Bravest through their Montreal-based shingle Main Journey.

Guenoden was among the core group of Amblimation animators who came over from London in the mid-1990s to form Dreamworks Animation and produce the studio’s first film, The Prince of Egypt. At Amblimation, he had served as a supervising animator on Balto, and animator on We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story. Some of his highlights at Dreamworks include animation supervision on Chel in The Road to El Dorado and Proteus in Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas.

Among Guenoden's most iconic projects at Dreamworks was his work on Chel in "El Dorado," a design he had to tone down because it was "too sexual."
Among Guenoden’s most iconic projects at Dreamworks was his work on Chel in “El Dorado,” a design he had to tone down because it was “too sexual.”

When Dreamworks switched over from hand-drawn films to cgi, Guenoden became a key contributor on the Kung Fu Panda franchise, working on story, fight choreography, and animation on all three films, including animation supervision on the first film. He also directed the 2D/3D short Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Scroll.

Variety, which first reported on The Bravest, notes that Dreamworks and Disney animation vet Ted Ty, will be animation director on the film, and Canadian screenwriter Jennica Harper (YTV/Netflix’s Some Assembly Required, YTV/Disney XD’s Mr. Young) will handle the script.

A period piece set in the 1930s, The Bravest centers around a 16-year-old girl who “must become a hero in order to save her father.” A consultant on the film is Rochelle Jones, who was among New York City’s first woman firefighters in the late-1970s, and became the first woman promoted to battalion chief in the New York City Fire Department in 2003.

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