Cartoon Movie is also encouraging greater collaboration between feature animation producers and the gaming industry by hosting a series of “speed-dating” sessions called Cartoon Games & Apps. Its goal is to bring together feature animation producers and transmedia/gaming professionals earlier in the process so that they can work more closely on developing authentic interactive experiences centered animated properties.
Here’s five family projects that we’re looking forward to hearing more about next month:
Calamity, A Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary
Following up on his unique, and sadly overlooked, 2016 film Long Way North, director Rémi Chayé is developing another mostly-drawn animated feature with a strong female protagonist. The setting this time is switched from the North Pole to the American West of the mid-19th century, and the story is an original take on an actual historical figure, Calamity Jane. French companies Maybe Movies and Sacrebleu Productions are leading the film’s development:
1863, in the midst of a convoy heading West on its way to a better life, Martha Jane’s father gets hurt. It is she who must drive the family wagon and take care of the horses. Learning is tough and yet Martha Jane has never felt so free. And since it’s more practical for riding horses, she doesn’t hesitate to slip in trousers. It is too much boldness for Abraham, the leader of the convoy. Accused of theft, Martha has to run away. Dressed as a boy, searching for the evidence of her innocence, she discovers a world in construction where her original personality will assert itself. An adventure full of dangers and rich in encounters that will, step by step, reveal the mythical Calamity Jane.
Back in 2015, Cartoon Brew revealed exclusive concept art from this project by filmmakers Kirk Hendry and Neil Boyle. Back then, the industry veterans told us that they were aiming for a mixed-media approach “using a box of tricks including hand-drawn characters, miniature landscapes, matte painting, and CG environment effects to tie it all together.” The project, based on the bestselling novel by War Horse author Michael Morpurgo, is still following that vision. The companies behind Kensuke’s Kingdom are Lupus Films (U.K.), Jigsaw Films (U.K.), Melusine Productions (Luxembourg), and Spirit Base (U.K.):
A young boy Michael is taken by his family on a round-the-world sailing trip. But when a storm strikes, Michael and his dog Stella are swept overboard and washed up on a remote island. They struggle to survive, but one day Michael wakes to find fresh fish and coconut milk by his cave. He discovers his mysterious benefactor is Kensuke, a former Japanese soldier, creator of a treetop kingdom and protector of the orangutans. Slowly, communicating through drawings rather than words, Michael and Kensuke form a friendship. But something threatens to destroy the fragile world Kensuke has created. A thrilling adventure story with a poignant message that will resonate with audiences across the world.
Anthony Roux and Jean-Jacques Denis, directors of last year’s Dofus—Book 1: Julith return with a new 2D digital idea for children called Princess Dragon. The project, from France’s Ankama Animations, is being presented as a cross-media concept, not surprising considering that Ankama established its reputation based on its MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing games):
Bristle is a little girl raised by dragons. She breathes fire, is as strong as ten men, has scales which make her change color depending on the season, and hair which is home to a whole bunch of small animals. But when her father, Dragon, has to pay the Sorcerog using his second most valuable asset, he offers her Bristle… Throwing her into an infinite sadness and forcing her to flee the family cave. Bristle then embarks on a journey to discover the world of men. Upon meeting them, she will learn the meaning of friendship, solidarity, but also greed, which seems to eat away at the King’s heart. It’s there that Bristle will earn her nickname: the “Princess Dragon.”
Two-time Oscar-nominated filmmaker Tomm Moore (Song of the Sea, The Secret of Kells) continues his deep-dive into regional folklore with Wolfwalkers, a 2D digital feature that he will co-direct with Ross Stewart, the art director of Kells. Moore’s studio Cartoon Saloon will produce:
In a time of superstition and magic, when wolves are seen as demonic and nature an evil to be tamed, a young apprentice hunter, Robyn, comes to Ireland with her father to wipe out the last pack. But when Robyn saves a wild native girl, Mebh, their friendship leads her to discover the world of the Wolfwalkers and transforms her into the very thing her father is tasked to destroy.
In 2004, we wrote of Arthur de Pins, “Here’s a name to start watching closely.” Well, a mere 13 years later, he’s got his own animated feature. The cg cel-shaded Zombillenium is based on de Pin’s graphic novel series; he co-directs with Alexis Ducord through France’s Maybe Movies and Belgium’s Belvision. A release in France is scheduled for this year:
Zombillenium, the Halloween theme park, happens to be the one place on earth where real monsters can hide in plain sight. When Hector, a human, threatens to disclose the true identity of his employees, the Vampire Park Manager has no other choice but to hire him. To see his daughter, Hector must escape from his Zombies and Werewolves coworkers.
A full list of projects that will be pitched next month at Cartoon Movie, as well as information on how to attend, can be found on the Cartoon Movie web site. Cartoon Brew will attend and report from Cartoon Movie next month.