Two-time Oscar-winning vfx supervisor John Dykstra will make his directorial debut on TORTOISE AND HIPPO for Walden Media and Relevant Ent, according to THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER.
"It's a dream come true," Dykstra said. "The biggest thing to me is that having waited this long (to direct a feature) has provided me with an understanding of how films are made, and the critical component is collaboration. I'm really looking forward to telling this tale in the company of such a great team."
The film is based on a real-life event scripted by SHREK co-writer Roger S.H. Schulman. Relevant Ent. partner Mike Menchel will produce the film based on a wire-service photo discovered by his children in a newspaper. The widely circulated photo documented a baby hippo and 100-year-old tortoise comforting each other at a wildlife sanctuary in 2004 after being rescued from the Indian Ocean in the wake of the massive tsunami.
"The actual event that inspired the movie captured the imagination of the world," Walden Media evp production Alex Schwartz said. "We're going to create a movie inspired by it that we hope can tell a story everyone can relate to, which is that you can be different but still belong to the same family."
NARNIA director Andrew Adamson is in final talks to produce the live-action and photo-real computer-animated film.
"John Dykstra is the wizard behind some of the best special effects magic we've seen in the past 20 years," Schwartz said. "What singled him out beyond that was that he has a tremendous sense of character and story."
Menchel will shepherd the project with Walden execs Schwartz, Jackie Levine and Jared Mass.
Relevant has a publishing tie-in deal with the children's division of Penguin Books.
The film is being aimed for a 2007 release.