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Locksmith Taps DNEG Animation for ‘That Christmas’

Based on the kids’ books series by Richard Curtis, the animated feature brings the companies together again following the success of Locksmith’s first film, ‘Ron’s Gone Wrong;’ DNEG Animation will host 2 sessions on June 16 at next month’s Annecy Film Festival.

London-based Locksmith Animation has tapped DNEG Animation for the digital production of its second feature film, That Christmas. Based on the children’s book series by filmmaker Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually, Yesterday) the movie marks the directorial debut of character animation and story artist veteran Simon Otto (How to Train Your Dragon trilogy). This is DNEG Animation’s second project with the animation studio, having previously worked on Locksmith’s first animated film Ron’s Gone Wrong.

Locksmith has announced the production’s lineup of producers and creatives including former Netflix and Disney veteran Nicole P. Hearon (Moana, Frozen) and Adam Tandy (The Thick of It, Detectorists), serving as producers. The company’s CTO/SVP of Digital Production, Doug Ikeler (Arthur Christmas, Open Season) is serving as VFX supervisor with Ashley Boddy (Ron’s Gone Wrong, A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon) as head of story, and Sim Evan-Jones (The Chronicles of Narnia, Shrek) as editor. Production design is by Justin Hutchinson-Chatburn (His Dark Materials, Black Mirror); Dave Edwardz (Star Wars IX: The Rise of Skywalker, Mary Poppins Returns) is head of layout, and Kapil Sharma (Ron’s Gone Wrong, Trolls) is animation director.  

“We are happy to continue our collaboration with Oscar-winning DNEG,” commented Locksmith CEO Natalie Fischer. “DNEG Animation’s contribution to Ron’s Gone Wrong was integral to the film’s appeal to audiences and we look forward to this new chapter.” 

“We are thrilled to be working with Locksmith again for their second project, following the success of Ron’s Gone Wrong,” added DNEG Animation president Tom Jacomb. “I’ve been a huge fan of Simon Otto and all his work on the How to Train Your Dragon series, so I’m very excited to now be working with him in the director’s chair!”

LSA co-founder and president of Production, Julie Lockhart, said “It is a privilege to work with such a stellar team of animation veterans on our second movie alongside Simon Otto and Richard Curtis. By corralling their collective expertise, we are dedicated to creating a holiday film that families will enjoy for years to come.”  

The team is currently in production on That Christmas in London. Curtis is writing the screenplay with Peter Souter. Executive producers include Elisabeth Murdoch; Sarah Smith; Lockhart; Bonnie Arnold; Curtis; Souter; Colin Hopkins; and the books’ illustrator Rebecca Cobb.

Curtis’s book series (published by Puffin), “The Empty Stocking,” “Snow Day,” and “That Christmas” tell family stories taking place in the run-up to Christmas in a small English beach town. 

DNEG Animation will be hosting two sessions on June 16 at the Annecy Film Festival next month.

Sessions are as follows:

  • 11:30am: Pathways to DNEG
  •  2:00pm: DNEG Animation: A Proper Hello

The leadership team will share how it built a startup animation studio within an established, award-winning visual effects company and how it is staying true to the history, art, and craft of animation while leveraging technology for the future. 

Source: Locksmith Animation

Debbie Diamond Sarto's picture

Debbie Diamond Sarto is news editor at Animation World Network.