The young heroes of director Paul O’Muiris’ self-aware Eddie of the Realms Eternal wormhole between reality and fantasy. One is a slacker elf called Hobi, and the other is a regular dude named Eddie. And together, they’re descended from (much more) mythic ancestors whose union for generations protected the Realms Eternal from evil — until now. It’s a perfect set-up for a buddy comedy adventure, with deep but accessible roots.
“When Amazon Studios came to us with the script, I felt an odd connection to this story about a lonely little kid pulled out of school into a fantasy world of magic and monsters,” O’Muiris told Cartoon Brew. “Then I realized why: Bob Roth and Bill Motz, the writers and creators of Eddie of the Realms Eternal, had written for many of the Disney television shows I’d grown up with, like Aladdin, Hercules, and Tarzan.”
“So I took this as an opportunity to make the kind of show I would have wanted to see as a kid,” added O’Muiris, whose current influences veer from Brad Bird and Satoshi Kon to David Cronenberg. “I was thinking about everything from Moebius to Teen Wolf, a little Miyazaki, some Chuck Jones. Hobi’s definitely got a little Bill Murray in him! It’s filmmaking Jenga.”
Cartoon Saloon’s mythopoetic nature and Disney’s mainstream fantasy merge smartly in Eddie’s snappy, world-warping pilot — whose fate hangs in the balance as Amazon Studios makes up its mind about which of its new pilots (including Moonbot’s The Numberlys and Niki Yang’s Yoyotoki) warrant a green light. (The public voting period for Amazon’s fall pilot season is now over, and the pilot is not currently available for viewing on Amazon’s site.)
After all, from Amazon to Netflix to parts outward in streaming media’s revenue stream, children’s programming is the rage.
Eddie of the Realms Eternal’s postmodern phasing between fantasy and reality echoes the contemporary and mythological journeys of the kids at the heart (and mind) of director Tomm Moore’s Oscar-nominated Song of the Sea, another Cartoon Saloon standout. Moore produced Eddie, and gave O’Muiris some valuable advice along the way.
“Tomm was adamant that it be my personal vision, rather than design by committee,” said O’Muiris. “The creators and I were on the same wavelength, which made for a rewarding project. It was a great mix of seasoned artists, with careers in TV and features spanning thirty years, working alongside new graduates chomping at the bit to prove what they could do.”
Like Moore before him, O’Muiris felt strongly about anchoring his world(s) in hand-drawn animation. Eddie of the Realms Eternal’s design grew organically from the contrasting duality of its two worlds, the director told Cartoon Brew, which were posed and animated in TVPaint, with layouts and backgrounds drawn and painted in Photoshop, and elements composited in AfterEffects.
“I like that unpolished, rough-around-the-edges feel of hand-drawn animation,” he said. “I want kids, or anyone who watches Eddie, to feel that its drawings are just like the ones they make.”
Defense of the hand-drawn aesthetic is a prime driver for Cartoon Saloon’s acclaimed output, which soon will include The Secret of Kells co-director Nora Twomey’s The Breadwinner, co-produced by Angelina Jolie. O’Muiris read Tomm Moore’s comics in school and watched Twomey’s short films in college, “so I guess the aesthetic crept in,” he explained.
Like those who voted for Eddie of the Realms Eternal over Amazon Studios’ other impressive pilots, O’Muiris isn’t sure what comes next. But he came prepared.
“In planning storyboards and designs, we left elbow room for elements we could draw on for future plot threads and character development,” he said. “But it comes down to the TV gods, or accountants, or whatever. I believe if something is made with passion and conviction, it will find its audience.”