The Secret of Kells - What is this Remarkable Animated Feature?
Walking the Dog studio in Belgium did about 20 minutes of 2D and a lot of the 3D animation and compositing. Digital Graphics did ink and paint, compositing and some 3D. Blue Spirit in Angouleme, France did additional backgrounds and Flash animation (for background characters only) as well as a majority of the compositing. We did 40 minutes of 2D animation in the legendary Kecskemet film studios in Hungary, where the Hungarian folktales that had inspired me to try for a folk-art style had been made. We also had Lightstar Studios in Brazil handle our clean up and inbetweens from the Irish and Belgian studios. The editing and sound design was done in Paris in Piste Rouge and the music was written by Bruno Coulais in Paris, but arranged and recorded by Kila in Ireland.
It was an epic adventure to co-ordinate between all those studios and I owe a lot to our great production team and supervisors for keeping it together. The challenges of streamlining the work from the various studios were sometimes daunting. We had a great asset management solution in Hobsoft, which was developed by two Danish guys to manage European co-productions. I also enjoyed engaging with so many new cultures.
Overall I'm very glad we managed to keep a consistent look to the whole film despite how spread out the work had to be.
KC: Can you tell us something about your production company and your future projects?
TM: Cartoon Saloon is the company I own together with Nora Twomey, Paul Young and Ross Murray. We are based in Kilkenny in Ireland and specialize in design, 2D animation and illustration work. We made the TV show Skunk Fu with director Aidan Harte during the production of Kells and at one point had a staff of 75 artists in house.
We have won awards for our previous short films, From Darkness and Cuilin Dualach, both directed by Nora Twomey. We have also worked on a variety of commercials and illustration jobs over the years.
Right now we have a staff of around 15 artists creating backgrounds for a French-Irish-Australian co-production. With the attention Kells is receiving worldwide, we are focused on our new projects. My next film is called The Song of the Sea and Nora is developing a live-action - animation blend horror movie based on the Bluebeard fairytale. We also have a preschool show in development called Puffins Rock as well as several other ideas in the mix.
We are very proud to have produced Old Fangs recently, a short film by Adrien Merigeau who will art direct my next feature. Adrien is a talented young director who was a background artist on Kells. Old Fangs had its debut in Sundance this year and I hope it will find its way into many festivals over the course of 2010.
KC: Most people from abroad say it is difficult to get distribution in the US. Was that the case with Kells?
TM: It was very difficult. We hoped for distribution much sooner in the US and the UK. Even though we had won many awards including audience awards at Edinburgh and Annecy, it was very hard to find distributors brave enough to take the film on. Thankfully we have landed in good hands with GKIDS in the US who seem to have a taste for our type of film. We are proud to be on the same label as Azur and Asmar, Sita Sings the Blues and Mia and the Migou.
I am excited that American audiences will have a chance to discover our film this year. I think Gkids are championing a new way of marketing and distributing smaller independent films.