Interview: The Filmmakers Talk Rise of the Guardians, Written by: Karen Benardello
Many fairytales and mythical figures who bring joy to children around the world are often presented as protectors of children’s imaginations and innocence. When these figures, including Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, team up together to defeat evil in the world, they can help the children overcome their fears and truly enjoy the magic of the world. Their magical bond is a major motivating force in the anticipated DreamWorks animated film ‘Rise of the Guardians,’ which is set to be released in theaters on Wednesday.
‘Rise of the Guardians’ looks into what happens when Santa Claus, who’s known as North (voiced by Alec Baldwin); the Easter Bunny, who’s known as E. Aster Bunnymund (Hugh Jackman); the Tooth Fairy, who goes by Tooth (Isla Fisher); and the Sandman all know each other and team up keep children around the world happy and safe. Strong and immortal, the four childhood legends have been tasked by the Man in the Moon to protect the innocence and imagination of children of all ages to the fullest extent of their powers.
When an evil force, the bogeyman, who’s named Pitch (Jude Law), arrives with a plan to erase the Guardians from existence by robbing children of their hopes and dreams, the beloved crusaders elicit the help of Jack Frost (Chris Pine). Jack is a reluctant new recruit to the Guardians, however, as he would rather enjoy a snowy day than help save the world, as he’s upset no one believes in him. As the Guardians engage in an epic battle against Pitch, whose plan to conquer the world by spreading fear, can only be stopped by their magic and the lasting belief in young Jamie (Dakota Goyo).
The filmmakers of the DreamWorks animated family adventure film, including director Peter Ramsey; producers Guillermo del Toro, Christina Steinberg, Nancy Bernstein and Bill Joyce, who also wrote the books the movie is based on; screenwriter David Lindsay-Abaire; and composer/songwriter Alexandre Desplat, recently participated in a press conference at New York City’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel. The filmmakers discussed, among other things, how they became involved with the movie, how they chose which actors would voice the characters and why teens, as well as children, will enjoy the film.
Question (Q): How did this project come together, and how did everyone become involved in the film?
Bill Joyce (BJ): It started when my daughter was about six, and came into the kitchen with her little brother, who was three, in August, of all times, and asked, “Does the tooth fairy know Santa Claus?” I thought it was a funny question in August, but in her hand was her brother’s tooth. They had been going at it, and she had accidentally knocked his tooth out.
So I thought, okay. I said yes, the tooth fairy and Santa Claus do know each other. That opened up Pandora’s Box, that I’ve been trying to answer for 18 years. That’s why we put together this story.
Christina Steinberg (CS): Bill brought us the idea, and brought us this beautiful book of drawings that we all fell madly in love with. We pursued Bill relentlessly until he agreed to bring the movie to us.
We spent the next couple of years really figuring out how Bill was going to be working on the books while we were going to be developing the movie. We started with a team of people we thought we needed to make the film as wonderfully and spectacular as it is. Peter came aboard next, and then we started working on it.
Peter Ramsey (PR): It was pretty amazing. I had been at DreamWorks for awhile, and had heard about. I had recently completed another smaller TV short for the studio, so I had a little down time.
This idea of ‘Guardians’ was out there. Some work had been done on it, but the studio was gearing up for a new version of it I didn’t really have much thought that I would be involved. The idea had kind of taken route in my head, and I was kind of working on my ideas for it. I was waiting for them to ask if I was interested, and they asked me if I would be interested.
CS: Then David came on very soon after that, as well. We brought David in to write it.
David Lindsay-Abaire (DLA): When it was pitched to me, I liked the size of the story. It had an epic quality, and it had big things I cared about, as I had kids. I said, do I really want to make this movie, because it seems so different than a lot of the movies they’ve had released.
Everyone at DreamWorks said no, we want to make this movie and this story. Having read Bill’s story, I said, I’m in.
Nancy Bernstein (NB): I came on before Peter, and my job was to figure out how we were going to make this movie. It is kind of epic, and bigger than any kind of movie we’ve ever made at DreamWorks. The notion of all of these amazing characters, I was so excited about the opportunity.
I was head of production of DreamWorks at the time. I was asked if I’d consider it, and I said, yes, let’s go!
Guillermo del Toro (GDT): When I came back from New Zealand, I immediately made contact with DreamWorks. I went to the art room of ‘Guardians,’ and I was immediately captivated by one thing that’s still in the movie. This is not a movie that has pop references from the last 10 years, or trying to be hip and now.
It was actually trying to be timeless. It was trying to capture a sense of storytelling that is lost in most mediums right now. I was really attracted to that, and the possibility of exploring themes that are very important today, especially with kids. Like Jamie with fear, and how each of us is a guardian. Things like that, faith, belief, hope, renewal.
When we connected with all these things, we started talking about character and story and design. Then it became absolutely absorbing of my life and my family, because my whole family has become involved with this movie at some point. (laughs)
To continue reading this interview, please visit Shockya.