The animated feature Two By Two is released in cinemas today. Co-produced by Galway-based Moetion Films, Film Ireland got out of the rain and took shelter with co-producer Moe Honan to discuss the process behind getting from script to screen.
The story of the Nestrian species has long been shrouded in mystery. Thanks to the new Irish animated feature Two By Two, out in cinemas today, we finally have an answer. The tale of rejection, survival and victory was a few years in the making. Co-producer Moe Honan tells Film Ireland that the initial idea and story developments came “between a group of us that decided to collaborate with writers and producers at the time. Once we’d worked out the story we were supported in that development by the IFB and we developed various drafts of scripts with our German partner, and that went on for approximately 3 years in total. In that time we were obviously progressing the content and making lots of plans to finance. When we felt we had the script in place in a strong way we went out to attach the additional financing partners with the support of the Film Board. The production continued over the last 18-20 months and we finished in post-production last December.”
Moe knew from the beginning she had a project worthy of the big screen. “In this process we knew quite early on when we were pitching the project among our trusted network for starters but also in the wider market, people responded very quickly and positively to it. The pitch-line that ‘we’re going to make a story about the animals that didn’t get on the Ark’ was such an original concept and we knew it also visually could allow us to create characters in a very free way that we hadn’t seen before – literally. In the imagination of the writers and the visual artists we began to develop that side of it. We felt it gave us freedom to write a very original story and also would allow itself to exploit that visually within the great process that animation brings us and be able to do things you can’t necessarily do in live action without spending so much more money! It allowed us to live in that imagination and bring quite a unique film to the market.”
Once they had completed the content of the story as regards the script, “we then move onto storyboarding,” Moe explains. “We often do what we call a ‘guide track’ [a preliminary soundtrack that gives the animator an idea of what the final track will be like] for starters. Then we cast and record the voice talent – and this is really the key point the animators are relying on – we have to have great performances and the right voice characters for the animators because that’s what they listen to and that’s what inspires them to get the right body acting for their characters. We do go through the process of storyboarding and creating 2-d drawings before we move it onto our computers where we develop and create the 3-d model for our characters and background. And we do what we call ‘blocking’ – this is where we can see the composition of the shots and we can see the perspectives and rough movements, but it’s still not animated. Then we enter the animated phase of the production – this is where the real talent of the animators come to fore. They interpret the scene and the intention and the body language – really selling a character, because if that’s not working right you’re in trouble. You’ve got to feel that the emotional aspect of the character is credible. You may be looking at this strange little Nestrian animal we’ve invented but you have to believe him and you have to empathise with him fully – and that really is where the animator’s talents come in.”
Ultimately, Moe hopes they have created a special film that is fun for all the family and not just the kids. “We’ve built layers of humour and story plot to keep the adults entertained as well. From a parent’s point of view, there’s a story there for them as well as the children. They’ve bought the ticket so we have to reward them as well – we don’t want them to fall asleep! It’s what we’re aiming to do – to entertain the whole family.”
Two By Two is released in cinemas 1st May 2014