Moore Illuminates The Secret of Kells
The Secret of Kells has just grabbed an Annie nomination for Best Animated Feature and Tomm Moore, co-founder of Cartoon Saloon in Kilkenny, Ireland, describes how he brought this lovely and magical 2D movie to the screen. Inspired by Ireland's most precious artifact, The Book of Kells (a stunningly beautiful medieval manuscript containing the Four Gospels), the movie concerns a 12-year-old boy living in an abbey that comes of age amid Viking attacks and mystical wonders.
Bill Desowitz: What inspired you to make a movie about the legendary Book of Kells?
Tomm Moore: Well, it was a long time in the making. I had the first idea with a friend in college and we were thinking after seeing Mulan and The Thief and the Cobbler that we could find something in Irish arts to base as an animation. We never could do it as a student project so it became a pet project on the back burner here at the studio. But we thought it would be interesting to translate that into 2D, hand-made animation, which would be suited to the style. And the stories and legends from around that period seem pretty ripe. We went through different drafts of the script, some more of the history and some more of the fantasy and found a blend between the two.
BD: How did the financing come together?
TM: We pitched it at Cartoon Movie when Les Armateurs and Vivi Film were in the middle of The Triplets of Belleville and they showed 10 minutes and it was a big hit and they liked our pitch and thought it could be their follow-up. And at that same Cartoon Movie Canal + got involved too, so they were the kind of anchor finance. And then once the French financing started to come into place, we started to raise the Irish finance and then, finally, the Belgian. So in the end, it was about 2 million Euros from each country.
Because Ireland was the country that developed the project, we ended up being the lead creative studio and France ended up being the lead production studio.
TM: We did about 15 minutes of sample animation, designs, all of the key posing and most of the backgrounds here at Cartoon Saloon [Blue Spirit in Angoulême, France did the rest of the backgrounds]. And then we divided the rest of the animation around Europe and Brazil: Walking the Dog in Brussels, Belgium; Lightstar Studios in Sao Paolo, Brazil; and Kecskemet Film in Hungary; ink-and-paint at Digital Graphics in Liege, Belgium; the in-betweens and cleanup were done in Brazil; and all of the compositing and editing and even the final sound post were done in France and Belgium.