Ranking 23rd in the Film Season 2010 Power 100 Katzenberg is no stranger to the cut-throat, ‘make it bigger – make it better’ world of film animation. But with Shrek and Po the Panda on his side as well as Megamind’s $30.1 million killing at the American box office in its first week HeyUGuys were curious to see how he feels about the future of DreamWorks.
HeyUGuys: Fey, Ferrell and Pitt provide a particularly strong and distinctive vocal cast for Megamind. How do you go about casting such a star-studded film?
It really starts with the film-makers, the director and producer and writers and when they are creating, particularly the original films. Most of the time they have voices in mind when they sit down at the very start of the creation process. Pretty early on we’ll all gather around and listen to actors and find that perfect voice. We’ve always been very very lucky in that, almost without fail, the actors our film-makers want we usually get!
Will Ferrell is quite keen on his comic improv, how much leeway do you get for improvisation in animation, hopefully it isn’t a case of back to the drawing board?
Will got a tremendous amount. All of our directors allow a lot. I think one of the most exciting parts of making these movies is when they are able to get inside a recording studio with a great comedic actor – particularly those who have good improvisational skills – they’re able to bring out very spontaneous and completely unique comedic ideas as well as fun performances. It’s one of the things most of these great actors love about animation. They can actually get in a studio, in a completely safe environment and go crazy! And the rewards have been very obvious.
Is Megamind the answer to Pixar’s The Incredibles?
We don’t think about it that way. Really The Incredibles wasn’t a consideration for us one way or another. We all love the movie and I thought it was quite brilliant and Brad Bird did something very, very unique and very exciting with that. So we think Megamind could definitely be a more different movie.
How involved do you get to be in the various productions at Dreamworks, being CEO must take up a lot of your time?
(Laughs) Oh I don’t know, somehow or another it all works and I like to be as involved as possible.
How to Train your Dragon and Megamind seem to appear a turning point for Dream Works Animation, how confident do you feel about moving into 3D as an independent film studio?
We’re very excited about 3D. We think that it’s here to stay and animation has in many ways paved the way for 3D probably both technologically and in the tools that are available not to mention the knowledge of our film-makers. It definitely puts us further ahead in the live action business.
Do you think 3D cinema and 3D in the home is the future?
You’re going to see the live action side of film start to accelerate a lot in the next year or two. You’ve got a number of very gifted film-makers who are starting to use 3D. Martin Scorsese, Michael Bay and Peter Jackson and other really great film-makers are going to go to work in 3D and I think we’ll start to see some really exciting results.
Animated films can’t afford to get by on huge impressive stunts alone, dialogue and plot is invaluable, does the studio rely more on its favourite animation writers or do you scout around for new talent and ideas?
Both. We have a staple of people who have worked with us over the years who are very much a part of our studio, who have been contributors on multiple movies. We’re also always looking to bring new talent in. Megamind is a perfect example. This was written by two first-time screen-writers and we were extremely excited about their script. And then in a way that is almost unprecedented in any kind of movie-making the same writers who started, finished. It’s their movie and nobody else is accredited on it, they were able to go the whole distance which is obviously a good thing.
What can we look forward to next from Dream Works?
Two pretty great movies next year that we couldn’t be more excited about. First is the next chapter of Kung Fu Panda which will be out next summer, really happy to see Po back. Great things coming for him. Following that we have Puss-in-Boots which will give us a chance to go back and tell the origin stories of where he came from and he came to have the boots, the cape, the hat and the sword.
Do you think Puss-in-Boots as a Shrek spin-off is a wise move?
We love the movie and we’re excited about it but we’ll see. It’s up the movie-goers to decide that.
Do you have a personal favourite animated film from amongst the DreamWorks collection?
Oh no (laughs) … I love them all, they’re all our children!
Not even a favourite film in general…
Not one, I like many… I like so many different movies! If I had to pick one movie it would probably have to be Lawrence of Arabia.
Megamind hits UK cinemas on Friday December 3rd 2010.