The new Sony Pictures Animation animated film is a short film with Smurfs – The Smurfs: The Legend of Smurfy Hollow. It’s a Halloween story. The production is directed by Stephan Franck (Iron Giant, Despicable Me) and produced by Mary Ellen Bauder (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Hotel Transylvania). Stephan Franck gave an interview to animationmagazine.eu.
What does animation means for your?
Animation is an art form that I fell in love with at a very early age. It combines my passion for filmmaking and for an artistic way to look at the world. I believe that it operates at a different level of abstraction than live-action, and that’s why it is such a universally compelling medium.
Please tell me something about The Legend of Smurfy Hollow?
The Legend Of Smurfy Hollow was a wonderful opportunity on two fronts. First it gave me a chance to do something with traditional hand-drawn animation, which is very rare these days. What I tried to do is to go back to the golden age of animation, and to connect with the work of animators such as Freddy Moore or Frank Thomas, and to take that character animation, and engage it with a modern sense of filmmaking. So it’s hopefully a modern presentation of a traditional art form. Second, this was a great opportunity to do justice to the Smurfs in their hand-drawn 2D form, which had rarely been the case. You’ve never seen 2D Smurfs animated like this. On the story side, it has a wonderful message about the power and meaning of family, as we see sibling rivalry turn into unconditional support.
What animation techniques do you used for this production?
We used CGI at the beginning and the end of the story, as we are in the same universe as Smurfs 1 & 2. Then the Smurfs get lost in the woods and start telling a ghost story. That „story in the story” is hand-drawn animation.
How did you start in animation film industry?
My first internship was on Babar the elephant, and my first real job, straight out of school was An American Tail, Fievel Goes West, as an assistant animator in London. from then on, I opened my own studio in Paris, directing commercials and co-created the TV show CORNEIL & BERNIE. Then I moved to the US, where I worked as a supervising animator and story artist, and then a writer and director.
From whom did you learn animation?
My original mentor in animation was a terrific animator named Kristof Serrand, who was my teacher at Gobelins, and then offered more mentoring on „Fievel Goes West.” Kristof is an animation genius, and very generous with his knowledge. He has trained many, many animators. Then I had the chance to work with Brad Bird on The Iron Giant, who was also a great role model, and who formed my idea of what a director should be. Then, I had the opportunity to work pretty closely with George Lucas for a few month. The force is very strong with him in the editing room. Let’s not forget Glen Keane in there, who I had the great fortune to work with for a couple of years. Glen is an incredibly inspiring person whose eye goes straight to what’s cool in a drawing, as opposed to obsessing on what doesn’t work. I consider myself super lucky to have had the chance to work with these incredible artists.
What is your next project?
I’m developing a new project at Sony that I can’t talk about yet. I am also doing a comic book series called Silver through Dark Planet Comics, and that is super exciting to me.
The interview was conducted with the support of Laura Boschi, PR & Communications, VIEW Conference and VIEWFest