New featurette highlights how the filmmakers prioritized inclusion in building one of the most diverse crews in animation history.
With BAFTA and Annie Award wins and an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature, Sergio Pablos and Netflix’s Klaus has amply shown that in the right storyteller’s hands, 2D animated features can still wow audiences as well as critics.
Klaus tells the story of a bumbling postman named Jesper (Jason Schwartzman) stationed in the fictional town of Smeerensburg on a frozen island high above the Arctic Circle, where the locals have been feuding for years. He befriends a teacher named Alva (Rashida Jones) and Klaus (J.K. Simmons), a mysterious carpenter who lives alone in a cabin full of handmade toys. Together, they manage to bring the Christmas spirit back to the town.
The film, shopped around to various studios, was perceived as "too risky," until Netflix acquired the rights in November 2017. Part of the perceived risk was Pablos’ plan to produce the film using traditional 2D animation; since arriving in the 1990s, CG-animated features have become the big studio norm, routinely breaking box office records while pushing 2D / hand-drawn animated features into the “lost art” category.
Pablos’ filmmaking team included veteran producers Jinko Gotoh (The Lego Movie 2, The Little Prince) and Marisa Román (Co-founder – with Pablos - and producer at The SPA Studios in Madrid). For Klaus, the two devoted considerable energy and focus on building an inclusive and diverse production team; they assembled a young but enthusiastic and talented crew that jumped at the chance to learn and work in 2D despite their predominantly CG animation backgrounds. The film’s success and stream of international accolades demonstrates that as one of the entertainment industry’s most “team-oriented” creative mediums, animation can and does thrive with crews that more fully represent the widely diverse audiences that routinely enjoy watching the finished product.
Please enjoy this new featurette, The Women of Klaus, where Gotoh and Román discuss how prioritizing inclusion helped them build one of the most diverse crews in animation history.
Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.