Directors Chris Sanders and Kirk DeMicco Talk About THE CROODS

DreamWorks Animation film The Croods is now out on Blu-Ray and DVD, and here’s an interview with directors Chris Sanders and Kirk De Micco talking about the movie:

ComingSoon: You mention that it has been a very long road bringing this to the big screen. What’s the biggest change that “The Croods” went through between its inception and the final product?

Sanders: From my perspective, when I came onto this, it was a village and there were things about the movie that just wouldn’t get off the ground. We felt like we had worked for about a year and had done everything we could to the outline to make it work. It didn’t lift off. It just didn’t get off the ground. It was just too heavy. When I was gone on “How to Train Your Dragon,” Kirk was the one who said, “You know, we’ll unplug just one family from this community and make the movie just about them.” That was the biggest change and that was the key to make this movie work. Making it about one single family. The last family, as far as we know, on Earth.

CS: Can you tell me a little about the world-buildling process? It’s cavemen, but it’s more a fantasy take on cavemen.
 That was something, when we started doing visual development and stuff and were writing these scenes, we were very into the idea of making our own world. That was something that stemmed from the original talks with Jeffrey. Make it an original world. This is the Croodaceus era. It’s a period of time that we invented. For me, the point of that that worked so well is that we’re following a family through a road trip and they’re constantly amazed by what they see. They’re going through uncharted territory and we thought it was important for the audience to also be discovering things with them. When you’re going through that world watching it, you don’t know what those creatures are, either. There’s certain things that pop up that you really know are dangerous, but there’s also things like the birds. You think, “Oh, it’s just birds,” but then you see how they eat. We kept on surprising them and I think that helped to make it pretty clear that Grug was, obviously, very protective and afraid of the outside world. He’s not crazy. The outside world in the film is very dangerous. I think that was a big part of it and it freed us up to have more fun. We would kind of keep things grounded, though. All the textures in our movie are very realistic. Textures on the leaves. Textures on the trees. We would play these kind of games where we would just ask, “What if the shape of the tree was off just a tiny bit more?” Then we would make the surfacing more real. There’s a very fine line between having yourself grounded in the strange and, say, going to Dr. Suess-land. We ran the risk of getting too Suess-ical and we would kind of lose that sense that this family could be in danger. It was just too whimsical in a way. I think that became one of the hardest challenges of the film.

croods-blu-ray-dvdCS: To that same point, where do you begin when designing this realistic-but-fantastic creatures?
 We have a very, very talented designer here. His name is Takao Noguchi and we partnered with him to take the lead in giving the animals a consistent vibe. Whether or not they’re deadly or friendly, we want them to be appealing. Takao has such an incredible ability to do that. That said, we wanted this world to be one where the audience is in the same place as the Croods are. Whenever you see an animal, usually, at first glance, you can’t really peg it as a dangerous animal or a non-dangerous animal. That’s on purpose. We wanted everything to seem fascinating initially, like the little red birds that pop up out of the ground. They look kind of pretty until they massively become this 20,000 bird flock and start behaving like piranhas. That was the design principle. To keep them all appealing looking. A lot of the animals are combinations of two different animals that we might recognize. We thought that our method of going backwards in time meant that we could take animals we know today and combine them. As time moved forward, they either separated and became the animals we know today or they disappeared altogether.

CS: In the creature design process, was there anything that didn’t make it because it was just too weird?
 Not to weird. We had animals that were very, very big. It’s just that, when you’re making these kinds of films, you run out of time. That’s the hardest thing. Time is money and you run out of time. We had animals that were on the edge of being in the film, but they would come and go depending on which way the story turned.

DeMicco: We had a giant cat-fish that was actually like a cat and a fish. The fish-cat. He was great. He kept on coming in and then he’d be gone. We’d talk to the team and they’d go, “Is my character still in?” and we’d be like, “Yeah. This week it is.” Next week it would be, “Oh, sorry. It’s not.” We didn’t want to just cram them in there.

CS: It sounds like we’ll be seeing more of the Croods before too long. What’s the state of the sequel?
 There’s not much to talk about yet because we’ve got a big lump of clay and we’re forming it as we speak.

DeMicco: We just started talking with Jeffrey about it really like this week. Lots of good creatures. We’ve got creatures that never got into the first movie. We’re going to take a very, very close look at those.

Sanders: I know Emma [Stone], Nic [Cage] and Ryan [Reynolds] are all coming back, so we’re psyched about that. We’re looking forward to that.

I definitely look forward to seeing a sequel of The Croods!

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