French-born Sylvain Chomet and his producer wife Sallys studio in Edinburgh, Scotland is creating an influx of animators to the city, reports SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY. Django Films is set to hire up to 250 artists to work on the two feature projects.
The first film is THE ILLUSIONIST, a £10m animated being funded by Pathé Pictures. A second project is in the works with Universal for a computer-animated feature titled, THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX.
"We are poised on the brink of pre-production," said Sally Chomet. "Having two projects running simultaneously on this scale will mean that Django Films will have the most significant animation facility in Europe."
Initially Django is taking on experienced international animators with whom they have worked before, but they are keen to employ young local artists as well. "Some animators behave a bit like starlets and are very difficult to work with," said Sylvain Chomet. "I much prefer to work with people who have big enthusiasm, even if they don't have big experience."
"It's fantastic news for Scotland," said Celia Stevenson, of the public film agency Scottish Screen. "They are setting up a proper studio what an amazing training ground for local animators."
Sylvain Chomet visited Edinburgh when THE TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE screened at the Edinburgh Film Festival in 2003, "fell in love" with the city and moved there last year.
He and Sally rented temporary accommodations, where they developed several projects that fell through before getting the greenlight on THE ILLUSIONIST, which is based on a script that the great French comic actor Jacques Tati planned to make as a live-action film with his daughter. The story was originally set in Prague and the Czechoslovakian countryside, but Chomet will relocate it to Edinburgh and one of the Scottish islands, possibly Shetland, Skye or Mull.
"It's much better, when the city is very important in the story, that you actually can just walk out and get inspired by it straight away instead of getting it from books," said Sylvain Chomet.
THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX is an adaptation of Kate DiCamillos best-selling children's book a fairytale about a little mouse, a rat, a princess and an abused girl who all live in the same castle. Bob Last (HOUSE OF MIRTH) will produce.
THE ILLUSIONIST is set for completion in spring 2009, while THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX is scheduled to hit American theaters Christmas 2008.