Sony Pictures Animation's Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 Co-Director Kris Pearn Shares his Insights into the Serious Art of Making People Laugh
OAKVILLE, ON, Sept. 27, 2013 /CNW/ - Drawing from lessons learned over a 20-year career working on animated feature length films and television shows in Canada, the US and England, Kris Pearn, a graduate of Sheridan's Classical Animation program, explains what it was like to co-direct a major blockbuster film that hits theatres today.
Conversation and Collaboration
Pearn credits a lot of what he learned about directing from Chris Miller and Phil Lord who co-directed the first movie and served as Executive Producers on the sequel. Pearn worked as Head of Story on the original film and tried to model the approach that Miller and Lord took to let the story room be a writer's room. "We think we had 350 funny people working for us and we wanted everyone to contribute," he said. "We tried to open the door for animators to surprise us. They came up with jokes that were never in script but that made their way into their animated sequences."
"It was also fantastic to see the film go through lighting and understand how much detail and thought go into those jobs," added Pearn. "We got to mix the movie with Michael Semanick and Tom Johnson, who did the sound on Lord of the Rings. They take a sound you've heard a thousand times before and just make it sound so much better. I have so much respect for somebody who is good at what they do."
Optimism and Belief
"What I also learned from this experience is that you have to stand in front of 300 people every day and be optimistic and it's not always easy because you're getting a lot of pressure and there's a lot of stuff happening. At the root of the idea, you have to love it and you have to believe in it."
That sense of love, belief and dedication can be seen - or literally heard - in the movie as Pearn even contributes voices for some of the minor characters. "I did the Tomato, the Shrimpanzee, Buttertoad, and the Think-wa-nots. At the beginning of the movie there's a guy who gets eaten by a cheeseburger and that's me. My co-director Cody Cameron does the voice of Barry and Dill Pickle."
Drawing, Reading, and Paying Attention to Life
For people who want to get into animation, Pearn says, "I always tell people to draw. Visual communication is the cornerstone of what we do. And while the technology has gotten better and equalized the amount of work there is for animators, you still have to understand how to phrase, how to pose, how to tell your story and how to handle things in space and draw people in environments."
"If you want to be a story artist, you also have to read a lot and watch movies. Find material. Life is about gathering experience. So go and sketch and draw and listen to people talk and just pay attention to the world. Story is about finding those moments that just make you laugh even when you shouldn't be laughing."
Pearn's Personal Path
"I grew up on a goat farm just outside of London, Ontario. I was one of three brothers and I always loved to draw. My parents were really supportive and they just let me pursue that. I really got into comics, like Calvin and Hobbes and Bloom County. We never had cable because we lived in the middle of nowhere so we only got three stations. I remember every Saturday afternoon on Global, the Looney Tunes came on and life would just stop and I would just sit there and watch and I never thought that people actually made that, and I never thought that people in Ontario could make that."
Pearn credits his high school guidance counselor for opening his eyes to the possibility of a career in animation. "I was planning on becoming an architect because I knew how to hold a pencil. He told me about Sheridan and the attention it was getting. I entered the same year that Lion King opened. The popularity of animation went through the roof. I've been lucky in my career that I've been in front of opportunities at the right time."
Watching the Audience
Pearn was in Canada last week to be part of the film's debut at the Ottawa International Animation Festival. "People were laughing at jokes that I didn't think anyone would laugh at and there was great applause at the end. That was such an awesome moment in my career." Over the next few months, he'll also travel to Russia, Italy, Argentina and France as the film opens in different markets. "It's a bit nerve racking. People loved the first movie so it's a hard thing to follow."
As for next steps, Pearn says he hopes to direct again but that he definitely needs to take a breather and he knows he'll be careful about the project he chooses. "These films are three to four year commitments in your life. You really need to love and believe in what you do. That is way more important than the title."
Sheridan is one of Canada's leading postsecondary institutions, offering over 100 diploma, certificate, and bachelor degree programs in an environment that fosters innovation and creativity. Its aim is to become Ontario's first university exclusively dedicated to undergraduate professional education - one that will be based on applied learning. The model also focuses on meeting university accreditation requirements so that Sheridan graduates have more pathways to the continued learning that will underscore their personal, career, and industry success.
About Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 picks up where Sony Pictures Animation's mouth-watering comedy left off. Inventor Flint Lockwood thought he saved the world when he destroyed his most infamous invention -- a machine that turned water into food causing cheeseburger rain and spaghetti tornadoes. But Flint soon learns that his invention survived and is now creating food-animals - "foodimals!" Flint and his friends embark on a dangerously delicious mission to battle hungry tacodiles, shrimpanzees, hippotatomuses, cheespiders and other foodimals to save the world - again! Directed by Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn. Screenplay by Erica Rivinoja and John Francis Daley & Jonathan Goldstein. Story by Phil Lord & Christopher Miller and Erica Rivinoja. Inspired by the book Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs written by Judi Barrett and illustrated by Ron Barrett. Produced by Pam Marsden and Kirk Bodyfelt.
About Sony Pictures Animation
Sony Pictures Animation produces a variety of animated and family entertainment for audiences around the world. The studio is following its worldwide comedy hits—the 2012 monster hit comedy Hotel Transylvania, the hybrid live action/animated blockbusters The Smurfs and The Smurfs 2, and the 2009 mouth-watering Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs—with the family comedy Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2 in theaters September 2013. Sony Pictures Animation will also release a brand new mini-movie on DVD and television this Fall, The Smurfs: The Legend of Smurfy Hollow. The studio, in conjunction with Aardman Animations, has produced two critically acclaimed feature films: the CG-animated family comedy Arthur Christmas; and the Academy Award® nominated stop-frame animated high-seas adventure, The Pirates! Band of Misfits. In 2007, Surf's Up also received an Academy Award® nomination for Best Animated Feature Film. The division, whose first feature film Open Season led to a very successful movie franchise, turned 10 in 2012. Sony Pictures Animation is an operating unit of Sony Pictures Digital Productions.
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SOURCE Sheridan College
Image with caption: "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (CNW Group/Sheridan College)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20130927_C5292_PHOTO_EN_31474.jpg
Image with caption: "Kris Pearn (CNW Group/Sheridan College)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20130927_C5292_PHOTO_EN_31475.jpg
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