By Edwin L. Carpenter, Editor -
The Dove Foundation
Juen is a visual effects producer and co-producer, who has been associated with
some well-known films, among them Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Stuart
Little 2, and The Polar Express. With the premiere of Arthur Christmas for the
holiday season, Chris recently spoke with us about keeping the focus on family
in his movies.
Dove: How did you become involved in Arthur
Christmas or was it your idea to do the film?
Chris: “There was a partnership between Sony
Pictures and Aardman, which is an animation company in the UK, and so I worked
with Sony and when the project was brought over it was in script stage in what
they call story reels and I looked at it. That was three years ago and I kind of
fell in love with the story. It was very, very rich and very well fleshed-out at
that point. It’s kind of rare to have such a well-developed story two years into
a five-year deal, but it was a very solid story.”
Dove: We know that producers do a variety of
duties but what exactly was it that you got behind regarding this film?
Chris: “My responsibility on this film was to
help build the team here in the U.S., pretty much on the entire digital side.
Most of the work was done here with the exception of about twenty five percent
of the animation which was done at Aardman in the UK. I was involved with the
building of the team--over the three-year-process probably 500 people touched
it--and I kind of managed the day-to-day finances and schedule, and really just
tried to help the director get her vision up on screen.”
Dove: We understand it’s always a challenge
staying within the budget!
Chris: “Money and creativity don’t mix very
What challenges did you face in completing the movie?
Chris: “The vision was very vast on this one.
The big challenge was the scale of it. The whole thing is that we established a
look and then we have to travel around the world. Arthur and Grandsanta spend
most of their journey in a sleigh going all over different locations. Once the
look was established we set the bar extremely high and then it was maintaining
it. There’s so much detail in this movie and the attention to the detail has
been placed on things that you couldn’t possibly catch in one viewing.”
Dove: What were a couple of the rewarding
aspects for you?
Chris: “Watching these characters come to life
and the story kind of come together. Working on an animated movie things are
done in such segmented ways. You have artwork and then you try to build the
artwork in the computer and color it in if you will and make it look like the
real world. It’s when the characters actually start to move and come alive and
the voice cast on this—we were very, very lucky with the actors that agreed to
sign on (including James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, James Broadbent and Bill Nighy).
Watching the characters come to life is when you really knew it was going to be
Dove: We know you have a great history in
making family-oriented films. Did you influence this film or did you just see it
simply would make a good family film?
Chris: “You could see—I mean, by the time I get
involved the scripts are somewhat in place but there are always decisions that
happen on the fly. I think the decision was based on what I could see the
potential was and then I just do my best to influence it from that point on to
be something that I would be proud of to share with my kids.”
Chris went on to say that the reviews thus far
for the film have been outstanding and it’s been well received but he added that
to him the most important thing is watching people’s reaction when they come out
of the theater. “There are quite a few people that are teary eyed and kids are
really enjoying it. A director made a comment the other night that, ‘It’s nice
to have great reviews but if you can win over an eight-year-old you’ve really
done something special’”.
Chris added that his background led to what he
does today. He loved photography from the time he was a kid and later he served
in the navy and learned about computers and electronics. He has now been with
Sony for fifteen years. He laughed when he said when he started at Image Works
that they were all young kids and nobody was married and now kids are their
measuring stick of success!
Dove: Are there a few scenes in the film
that you really love?
Chris: “The characters in this movie, how rich
and defined they are, is something that I really get a kick out of. I like the
family dynamic of it. I think everybody can relate to members of their own
family and kind of point to it. I also like Arthur. I think Arthur is a unique
and genuine character and I believe that everybody wishes they had more Arthur
in them, and had more Arthur-type people in their lives.”
Arthur is a character who has a passion for his
work and loves kids and Christmas, we have to indeed agree with Chris. Chris
obviously is excited about this new Dove-approved movie. He said he hasn’t
chosen his next project yet but is enjoying the premieres of the movie.
Read Dove's Review of "Arthur Christmas"