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Animation Magazine | A little night magic

12 February 2024

Go behind the scenes of the new DreamWorks Animation/Netflix feature Orion and the Dark with director Sean Charmatz and producer Peter McCown.

Get Issue #338 March 2024, from which this extract is taken, here.

A Terrific Team

McCown claims that he’s never seen a higher functioning and creatively adept crew as the design team for Orion and the Dark. He says, “I’ve also never seen fewer notes come from a director to a design department than I have on this film, and that speaks volumes to Tim Lamb and Christine Bian, our art director, as well. Sean would sometimes put up the guardrails and bring them back to where he needed it. The proof is creating something from your gut and going with that, as opposed to seeing five different versions of it only to get back months later to what your gut tells you initially.” He adds, “Hans Dastrup, our head of character animation, has been doing this for 20-odd years at Blue Sky and DreamWorks, and he knew what to go for.

There were constraints we had to work under, but he embraced those where he could and still elevated an entire studio’s animation team and brought it to a level we otherwise wouldn’t have got. Everyone went above and beyond to make something that looks like we made it for four times what we actually did.” For Charmatz, getting to make a film penned by Charlie Kaufman was only one of the many gratifying elements about being attached to this special project. “We made a movie that was pure and feels like it has a really strong message,” he notes.

“What an honor to make a movie that’s like that. Having Flaming Lips music in this film is amazing, too. And working with Angela Bassett and Paul Walter Hauser, who I think is one of the most talented actors on this planet. Everyone was strong and resilient in the process and that was so rewarding to go through that collaboration with everyone and make something so great. Mikros Animation gave an extra effort and energy for every single shot that was animated.”