Characters are the pillars of animation. At Mikros Animation, we’ve worked with iconic animated characters who are loved around the world and beyond the screen. From our first adaptation of the 1950’s French comic classic Asterix to the beloved burger-flipping sea sponge SpongeBob SquarePants; our studios have introduced classic characters to new audiences and reignited the passion of old fans alike through new and exciting stories.
This month we are exploring iconic characters from our studios and who better to kick off this week than with future icon, Ozi from the upcoming film Ozi: Voice of the Forest. Ozi is an orphaned orangutan who sets out to find her parents on an inspiring voyage of discovery.
Supported by Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way Productions, and Multi Academy-Award-winning producer, Mike Medavoy, the feature aims to raise awareness around the issues our Globe’s rainforests face considering growing levels of deforestation, and how this affects the ecosystems within.
We sat down with Mikros artists, directors and animators to ask them what they think takes a character like Ozi to icon status.
For you, when does a character become iconic?
Stéphane Daegelen, Creative Director & Production Designer – Paris: “For me, a character becomes iconic from the moment he falls into the popular domain. When its strong visual representation is sufficient in itself and even exceeds the project in which it appears. Everyone will react to a visual of Vader as a representation of evil. For me it is even an icon that goes so far, that there is even a sound associated with it! Who hasn’t snuggled up in his chair just listening to his breathing…?”
Ashar Siddiqui, Team Lead Animation – Bangalore: “I believe a character becomes iconic when you relate to them or you understand why they are the way they are. A character being iconic doesn’t mean he/she (or whichever pronoun they identify with) has to be heroic. Some of the legendary characters have been villains. So I think it’s about how people may feel, “I don’t agree with who they are and what they do, but I understand”.
Which character from the Mikros films is the most iconic for you? And why?
Stéphane Daegelen: “I really hope that one of the characters of the trio of the movie Ozi voice of the Forest will become iconic! Ozi is already a star character in my eyes, because this character is a Mikros Animation creation and not an existing license. This is a big game changer for me as a creative working on this movie. My biggest thrill will be when I see kids drawing and appropriating the characters that we created in OZI and that the teams brought to life. I caught my daughter reproducing a drawing inspired by a visual she had suddenly stolen over my shoulder during the lockdown… it’s one of my proudest achievements.”
Ashar Siddiqui: “I can count on Ozi to be a global star in the future. Apart from being charming and a “social media influencer”, she has imperfections that anyone can relate to. The feeling of a teenager who believes she understands it all and has everything figured out is something we have all been through. Ozi isn’t perfect. She’s vulnerable at times and yet she takes a leap of faith (quite literally) to find the answers she is seeking. Ozi is going to strike a chord with people of all ages. She is ready to make us aware about an issue we are facing in this world and yet choose to ignore. I have faith that she’d be a symbol of the fight against deforestation and global warming, hopefully sooner rather than later. And the fact that our parents aren’t always right! Ahem ahem. Go Ozi!!”
Want to learn more about Ozi, Voice of the Forest? Check out our YouTube series, I am with Ozi to access team interviews and behind-the-scenes information.