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PLANET 51

About The Film
"Did we discover Planet 51, or did it discover us – just lying in wait for us to realize it?” asks Ignacio Pérez Dolset, CEO of Ilion Animated Studios. The studio was formed in 2002 with the long-term goal of making computer-animated feature films – a goal they reach with Planet 51, their first film. "We were looking for that big idea, something worthy of a feature film – and just when we thought it had all been done before, we struck on this. Alien beings – little green men with antennae on top of their heads – living in fear of human invasion. The classic tale of an alien invasion but seen from a completely different angle. In an instant, we knew that we'd found our story.”

"It was a perfect fit,” says Jorge Blanco, who directs the film. "In 1950s America, the drive-in was king and screen heroes fought invaders from outer-space. But it was also a time of incredible social paranoia – people actually believed that their neighbor could be an undercover agent trying to take over their minds! By setting Planet 51 in that world, we knew we could have the famous 50s icons, but also perfectly fit in the conflict and the fear of the unknown.”

Joe Stillman, who previously penned Shrek and Shrek 2, took the ball from there, writing the film's screenplay. "Joe says it was love at first sight,” says Pérez Dolset. "We had the first meeting, when we presented him with the idea, and Joe immediately packed his suitcases and went off to live on Planet 51! He came back to earth with a story packed with fantastic additional characters, incredible humor, surprises, emotion, and excitement.”

"They showed me a rough, three-minute scene in which an astronaut lands in the backyard of an alien suburban family, and it completely knocked me out,” says Stillman. "It showed so much: the world of Planet 51: the sense of people in it, an understated acting style, a sense of visual motif, color palate, a really terrific sense of place, and an advanced technical ability. And then there's the stuff I can't really quantify, which probably is best described as sensibility.”

With such a rich setting, the possibilities were endless, says Blanco. "It provided the perfect melting pot for comedy and caricature; we could have an alien wearing a toupee driving a car shaped like a flying saucer, or invading ‘spaceships' dangling from strings. We knew that all of these icons could work perfectly in our film.” .

In creating their first feature film, Ilion Animation Studios faced a tall order: to develop the technical ability to create an experience unlike any other, an animated film that stands among the best in its class. This would only be possible with a relentless attention to detail and an unyielding drive for perfection: "good enough” would never be good enough. Whether focusing on the depth of field that revealed unparalleled detail, or the heft of the bodies that gave shape, form, dimension, and a real-world feel to the film, or the perfectly rendered lighting, right down to the reflections in the characters' eyes, the animators and computer engineers at Ilion were all working toward one goal, according to Gonzalo Rueda, Ilion Director of Technology: "Our insatiable desire as a studio was to make the best movie we could possibly make.”

"Of course, that meant that the filmmakers, artists, everyone was constantly bringing in new ideas to improve the film – and it became clear that we would have to implement all of those ideas, regardless of the technological challenges they presented. We would have to find a way,” Rueda continues. "Through the joint efforts of our artistic and technical teams, we managed to make all the things we dreamed a reality. It's exciting to think that this is only our first film, and that over the past seven years we have developed the resources and gained the knowledge and confidence to take Ilion Animation Studios into the future.”

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