Chalk this up as the oddest and most exciting feature animation news of the week.
Teddy Newton, the multi-talented story artist and designer who directed Pixar’s Oscar-nominated short Day & Night and who conceived the Jack-Jack versus raccoon fight sequence in Incredibles 2, will make his feature animation directorial debut with an indie cg-animated feature called Sneaks.
Adding to the weirdness, the film is going to be made in Ohio, which the film’s producers say will be the first feature animation production in that state. It has already received an Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit.
Written by actor and comedian Harland Williams, the film follows a group of misplaced sneakers that are lost in New York City and must find their way back to their “sole mates” while avoiding a greedy sneakerhead.
“What’s not to like about a diverse group of sneakers making a quest through the perils of New York City?,” Williams told The Hollywood Reporter, which first revealed the news. “It’s laced with all of the elements for adventure, comedy and deep emotional bonds.”
Sneaks will be produced at Columbus, Ohio-based Lengi Studios. Gil Cloyd and Len Hartman will produce, and Robyn Klein and Danielle Sterling will executive produce.
Another longtime Pixar veteran, Ricky Nierva, who was the production designer of Up and Monsters University and character art director of Finding Nemo, is also onboard. His role on the production hasn’t been revealed yet.
Newton, who we’ve written about before, has plenty of directing experience as an independent filmmaker, having made an animated short (Boys Night Out), a live-action short (the unreleased mockumentary The Studio of Tomorrow), and a a live-action feature (The Trouble with Lou).
If you want to get a sense of Newton’s work, check out this mini-documentary about his work on The Iron Giant, in which director Brad Bird describes him as “kind of a free range talent.”
Newton is repped by UTA, Anonymous Content, and Hansen Jacobson. Nierva was represented in the deal by attorney Stephen M. Baron.