What's the only thing cuter than an award-winning Belgian children's story about an unlikely animal friendship between a young mouse and a big bear? An animated feature film about it. No disrespect to original author Gabrielle Vincent, but in terms of lovability, the eighty-one minute, hand-animated and Oscar-nominated Ernest and Celestine may pack in more heartwarmth per parsec than the twenty-five page storybooks from which it bears its name. The Creators Project was so awe-struck by the original story and the adaptation, that we had to go behind the scenes and talk to the minds who brought this infamous tale to the silver screen. Watch our documentary on the making of the film above!
When first-time director Benjamin Renner was tapped by French animation legend Didier Brunner to direct a film about the internationally-beloved childrens books, he knew he had to do the original author justice. "What I liked in the books is how she could express big feelings in her minimalistic drawing," says the soft-spoken Renner.
The producer, Didier Brunner, whose past work includes dual Oscar-nominee The Triplets of Belleville, was enthralled by the possibility of turning Ernest and Celestine into a movie, since the series' debut publication in 1980. "Twenty years ago he was reading the book to his daughter," Renner says of Brunner, "and twenty years later he finally could make the film."
But what makes Ernest and Celestine so different from other animated features? An incredible cast of voice actors, including the timbres of Forest Whitaker, Paul Giamatti, and Lauren Bacall, aside, the film owes its accolades to the tireless efforts of Renner and his team in animating the entire film by hand. A team of animators worked around the clock, hand-drawing each frame on Flash-equipped tablets. To give the film its signature "watercolor" feel, a special software was created to fully realize Vincent, Renner, and Brunner's visions. And the result? Try watching our making-of featurette without smiling. We dare you.
Ernest & Celestine opens in select theatres in New York and Los Angeles today. Follow Ernest and Celestine on Facebook, and check out the official 'Making Of' Tumblr for more hand-drawn hijinks from Benjamin Renner and his team, and see images from the film below:
Images courtesy of the artists.