Young At Heart
As a means of paying homage to the generations
of animators who inspired Bird and assisted him in his career,
the filmmakers enlisted the help of two classic animation veterans-Victor
Haboush and Ray Aragon. Producer Abbate says, "Victor and
Ray really helped us in the early stages of visual development,
especially when we visited Maine and began to adopt the style
of our story. They were an inspiration. In some ways, Victor and
Ray also helped us bring Dean to life-both were these incredibly
creative guys who were artists and 'cool cats' in the 50s."
The director was also intent on actively involving current students
at Cal Arts on the film. While staffing, Bird saved spots for
several students to work as rough in-between artists (who take
animators' key character poses and execute all drawings in between
to complete action on segments of the film). Bird hired four animators
who had worked together on an animated short at school. Later,
impressed with the group's skills, the director offered to let
the four animate an entire sequence of "The Iron Giant"-fittingly,
a scene in a classroom.
He says, "We had a very young crew and they were completely
on fire, and I have to say we really used that. I wouldn't have
given it to them if I didn't think they could handle it. The Cal
Arts students animated their sequence and then returned to school.
There were quite a few stories like that on this film where what
we lacked in experience, we more than made up for with passion
Allison Abbate comments, "Everyone was really motivated to
keep to our tight schedule. I actually think that not having an
extended period of development helped us in a way. There is less
wasted time because the artists have an investment in their sequences
and they work together to solve problems immediately as they arise.
Having Brad at the helm kept us all very clear about the vision.
It was exhausting and it was great."
(Actor Diesel notes, "Brad directs like a conductor. He literally
gets all of the notes by waving his hand.")
One of the advantages of animation over live-action is, as Abbate
points out, "getting to see your movie long before it's going
to be finished." Periodically throughout production, the
filmmakers assembled the film and looked at it, analyzing everything
from story points to character continuity. The film, like any
artist's vision, went through periods of change and growth; some
segments were extended, others, eliminated.
"We were given an amazing opportunity to work with this story,"
reflects the director, "and now, in a way, we get to pass
our version on, just as Ted passed it on to his children."
Warner Bros. Presents "The Iron Giant," starring the
voices of Jennifer Aniston, Harry Connick, Jr., Vin Diesel, James
Gammon, Cloris Leachman, Christopher McDonald, John Mahoney, Eli
Marienthal and M. Emmet Walsh. The music is by Michael Kamen.
It is executive produced by Pete Townshend. The screen story is
by Brad Bird and the screenplay is by Tim McCanlies, based on
the book, The Iron Man, by Ted Hughes. The film is produced by
Allison Abbate and Des McAnuff. "The Iron Giant" is
directed by Brad Bird. It is distributed by Warner Bros., A Time
Warner Entertainment Company.
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