Meet Patrick Mate…Character Designer and Lifelong Smurf Fan!
I’m very proud to report that I have worked with the very talented Patrick Mate on previous movies, including my first directorial effort, SPIRIT - STALLION OF THE CIMARRON (2002), as well as PRINCE OF EGYPT (1998), on which I was Head of Story. Patrick was born and raised in France, resulting in his being readily availed the original Peyo Smurf comic books. He was probably drawing Smurfs before he could read!
Patrick is my in-house go-to guy for anything regarding the look of a true Smurf…and he’s also fun to work with.
Here, he answers my Smurfy Questionnaire:
KA: What is the job of a Character Designer on an animated feature film?
PM: To create memorable characters that you can’t wait to buy as a toy.
KA: Do you have a favorite Smurf?
PM: Astronaut Smurf.
KA: If you were a Smurf, what would your name be?
PM: Artsy Smurf. His temper, his beret…it has to be me.
KA: So far while working on this all new Smurfs movie, what has been a fun or favorite behind-the-scenes moment?
PM: The Peach Pie Pitch Party! PPPP hooray!
KA: If you could have one magic power, what would it be?
PM: The power to cure.
Thanks Patrick! Everyone keep checking back for more fun Smurfy stuff from Patrick, as well as other people from my movie making team!
As I’ve stated before, my primary intention for this all-new Smurfs comedy-adventure is to honor the original work of the property’s creator, Peyo. One such way I am doing that is by including as many references as possible to his early comics.
Therefore, in this new movie will appear a rather updated version of Peyo’s dreaded “Howlibird” (the original comic book designed pictured here).
At the present time, I won’t spoil just how this winged threat figures into the story, but suffice it to say that Howlibird will contribute to more than one surprise twist.
And, I promise, it will all result in high flying FUN!
People Give Me Smurfs…
Every time I direct a movie, be it about horses, ogres or garden gnomes, friends from all over send me tokens depicting the given subject matter. Now, I have a growing collection of SMURFS! Smurfs of all types, shapes and sizes. By the time this all new movie is released in 2016, I expect to have my very own SMURFS SHRINE.
Fine by me!
What’s In A Bluebell?
My all new Smurfs movie takes place largely in an enchanted Belgian forest, somewhere near the ancient city of Bruges. Now, one of the many things Belgium is famous for is its beautiful fields of bluebells - the most prominent of which grow near the area where Smurfs creator Peyo lived.
As my team and I have been developing the story for the movie, (which will deal very much in the origins of the Smurfs featuring elements of time travel and magic) I’ve become quite focused on the idea that those amazing Belgian bluebells might play a significant role in Smurfs’ history…but I won’t give it all away here!
Those delicate little blue blossoms might hold enchanted surprises you’ll simply have to wait for.
Keep checking back for more hints as to what’s in store.
Bruges From A Peyo Perspective
I was recently asked the following:
“Will Bruges be one of the main locations in the movie? How will the medieval buildings be transformed to a 3d environment?” - Kind regards, Koen Theuns
As this example shows, we will be depicting Bruges, Belgium in cartoon shapes reminiscent of Peyo’s original comics. All designs of this type will translate beautifully in 3D, lending a tactile reality to the rich world we are creating for the Smurfs.
Now, I can’t at this time divulge too much about the story, but I will say that many discussions are underway regarding the beautiful city of Bruges, both pre and post Renaissance. So stay tuned as things further develop.
Down To The Tiniest Blade Of Grass…
Almost every day I approve new assets for the art department, which are then turned over to the digital department, where it all gets built and textured. Every leaf, tree, flower and blade of grass is meticulously designed and constructed for a 3D environment.
This all-new Smurf movie is going to be lush with Belgian forest greenery, all depicted in a style very reflective of Peyo’s original world…but unlike flat illustrations in a comic book. Notice how each blade of grass is shaped in a way that Peyo himself might have drawn it - like a quick, fluid brush stroke. I’ve requested this type of design on all sorts of elements in the movie, such as strands of hair on some of the characters. It will be as if Peyo’s world is REAL!
Smurfing The “Assets”
A lot of my time in the art department is spent approving assets. I look at many choices for the same thing which usually narrows down to two or three variations of a given asset, which can be used for a variety of purposes in the movie.
Assets are our friends!
Smurfing The Story Reel!
Recently, our Editor, Mr. H. Lee Peterson, gave me a sneak peek at a rough assemblage of storyboarded footage for the entire movie! While it was indeed very preliminary, it was very helpful for me as the director to have the opportunity to “step back from the canvas” (see earlier post) and assess how things are shaping up.
We use temporary voices, sound effects and music in the story reel to help us design the overall pacing. It’s an invaluable tool in building an animated movie and becomes the true blueprint for the final version. We constantly improve on it and revise it until all the pieces are firmly in place.
This movie will be one crackling fun Smurf adventure, featuring all the characters we love…and full of some new surprises.
A Story Department Pizza Lunch!
Recently, head of Story Brandon Jeffords and I hosted a “State of the Movie” Story Department lunch (complete with pizza), during which we pitched out all the current - and always shifting - new ideas. I like to have these meetings on a regular basis, just to make sure everyone is as aware as possible of the movie’s direction.
A Tribute To The Note Takers…
In every meeting I’ve covered in this blog, there is always at least one Smurf Team Member present who is assigned the important (and very appreciated) duty of taking thorough notes, transcribing all the many ideas and opinions set forth by everyone present.
Needless to say, this is no small task.
Sifting through all the many things that are said in these meetings is one big job and I could not keep track of anything without my Smurfy team!