Produced by Aardman Animation and featuring puppets made from felt, the stop-motion musical special, starring Gilliam Anderson and Richard E Grant, hits the streamer in time for the holidays this year; directors share project insights at Annecy 2021 work in progress panel.
Netflix has just dropped first look images and a teaser trailer for the upcoming stop-motion animation musical holiday special, Robin Robin, which will debut November 27. The special is produced by Oscar-winning Aardman Animation, stop-motion pioneers known for their animated movies starring fan favorite characters including Wallace & Gromit and Shaun the Sheep. The 30-minute special, Aardman’s first original production done with Netflix, stars Golden Globe winner Gillian Anderson and Oscar nominee Richard E. Grant. Aardman is also in production with Netflix on a second Chicken Run film as well as a Shaun the Sheep Christmas special for 2022.
The first look and teaser trailer coincide with Robin Robin’s inclusion at Annecy 2021 in the Work in Progress Shorts 2021. Aardman’s session included a Q&A, moderated by Peter Lord (director and Aardman co-founder), that featured directors Dan Ojari and Mikey Please, and executive producer Sarah Cox.
In the special, when her egg fortuitously rolls into a rubbish dump, Robin is raised by a loving family of mice. As she grows up, her differences become more apparent. Robin sets off on the heist to end all heists to prove to her family that she can be a really good mouse – but ends up discovering who she really is.
Check it out – the characters are made from felt!
Speaking of animating with felt puppets, Please told the Annecy audience, “We were very keen to lean into the stop-motion feel and aesthetic and do something that felt absolutely and unquestionably visceral and real. There’s also something about felt that is quite seasonal. It’s something we associate with Christmas and the warmth and softness of it. Felt also has this way of absorbing light and being able to have this beautiful glow about it. It was a big learning curve for us as well, learning how to use [felt] in a way that wasn’t going to be too distracting, but also trying to do something that was very rich and colorful in its characterization.”
Ojari added, “To me, I think a lot of the magic in stop-motion is understanding very clearly what the material is, but it’s moving in a way that it shouldn’t, and it feels like a magic trick. That was one of the things we tried to get with the felt.”
Regarding The Bookshop Band’s score, Ojari noted, “Initially when we were starting out, they produced so many melodies, themes, and ideas, that we could work [them] straight into our animatic and build scenes. I think it’s quite commonplace to use scratch in place of the score while you work on the animatic, but predominantly, we just used [The Bookshop Band] music. And right from the beginning, it gave the animatic a feeling like we’re starting on something really solid here because they got this beautiful bit of score that sounds finished.”
“Their approach to music and storytelling just felt like the absolute perfect fit for the project, partly in wanting it to feel like a classic and wholesome story that’s slightly timeless,” Please said. “They manage to impart that hand-made feel into their music that we also love.”
Robin Robin is written by Ojari, Please, and Sam Morrison and produced by Helen Argo (Tate Movie Project, Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels). Music and songs are by The Bookshop Band. Cox serves as executive producer.
The voice cast includes:
- Bronte Carmichael will voice Robin. When her egg falls from the nest, Robin is adopted by a family of mice, and raised as one of their own. Not quite a bird and not quite a mouse, but full of determination. Robin sets out on an adventure to prove herself and just maybe, get a sandwich.
- Adeel Akhtar voices Dad Mouse, a caring but cautious soul who is single-handedly raising a family of five children (one of them happens to be an adopted bird).
- Grant will voice Magpie, an obsessive collector of shiny ‘stuff’. Magpie takes Robin under his ‘wing’, on a journey of self-discovery. Underneath his many ruffled feathers he really is a good egg.
- Anderson voices Cat. The villain of our story who just so happens to know a place where everything is welcome, her tummy!
Robin Robin debuts on Netflix November 27.
Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.