Chris Wedge, Director of Fox Animation’s Epic, Is The Blue Sky Man

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Chris Wedge, Director of the Fox Animation Studios release "Epic," has been in this place before, with an amazing, eye popping, brilliant full length animated feature still gathering raves, long after its box office run has ended, from fans and film critics alike.


He is no stranger to awards season either as "Ice Age" also with Fox Animation Studios, received 28 nominations for various awards including the influential Annie(Animation) Awards and an, equally prestigious, Academy Award nomination.

Speaking with Wedge after his latest film, "Epic" was nominated for five Annie Awards including Best Director he seemed subdued about the hoopla surrounding the awards push and modest about his accomplishments.

"You can't make movies with awards in mind," he said.  "That's very exciting to be nominated. It's nice to be recognized and there are a lot of good films out there this year. And you don't do this with that in mind."

Blue Sky Studios, of which Wedge is a co-founder, has a real start up story. It hasn't always been the accolades, awards and big picture deals to hear it told.

As one of the original founders of Blue Sky, Wedge began working, in the late 1980's, with Alison Brown, David Brown, Michael Ferraro, Carl Ludwig, and Dr. Eugene Troubetzkoy in a cramped apartment with three computers and the determination to build their own computer animation studio.

Flawless in presentation, "Epic" is a testament to the team's original desire. Illuminating, lifelike with an explosion of color, it is a masterpiece in animation filmmaking created through the Blue Sky Studios Fox Animation Studio partnership.

All filmmaking has its challenges, and for animation the challenges of creating a film only on a computer can be daunting.

"Technology," Wedge said, "or the technical aspect is always the challenge." Although not a deterrent as he is known for building his own technology to meet the demands of the different Animation projects.

"Epic," from concept to completion, was created with computer animation technology built by Blue Sky Studios, a family tradition dating back to the famous light-cycle sequences, also "home grown at Blue Sky," from the Walt Disney Studio blockbuster "Tron."

In addition to the innovated animation, "Epic," doesn't leave the life lessons and story up to interpretation. "There is something fresh about it," he said. "We're very proud of it."

Laughing Wedge talked about the inspiration for the "world within a world. I think the credit is very long," he said. "Something like 'based on the characters in the book, "The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs by William Joyce."'

Capturing the true essence of the "world within a world" the pageantry of the "Epic's" pod choice brings the fullness of the leaf world into frame, each element of the forest, from hummingbirds to water lilies to frogs and dry tree bark become alive with new meaning.

Getting Started

Getting the green light, and studio support, can be the most difficult aspect of filmmaking. And it wasn't any different for Wedge when he pitched "Epic" to the studios. Trying to get the studio to go with it, to see the same vision and find a slate time was easier said than done.

"The concern on the studio level," he said, "centered mostly on creative and a concern over marketing." He persisted four years, from 2005-2009, to "sell the idea to the studio" before they finally gave him the go ahead.

What's next?

Blue Sky Studios has become the little studio that could.

After nine full length animation features, five shorts and a television special Fox Animation Studios and Blue Sky Studios have broken records, received recognition and been distinguished by their peers.

The partnership with Blue Sky Studios and Fox Animation Studio is continuing to grow with three new projects slated. Following on the heels of the Academy Award nominated and Annie Award winner "Rio" Blue Sky and 20th Century Fox Studios have announced "Rio 2," will fly into theaters April 2014.

Blue Sky and Fox have also received the rights to the beloved Charles M. Schulz "Peanuts" and will be bringing new life to the iconic characters and classic family favorite.For his next directorial opportunity Wedge is slated to Director "Monster Trucks" scheduled for release in 2015.With the release of the DVD "Epic" continues to delight audiences worldwide.

 

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