Co-director lives in Seattle, but Hollywood claims his time

  • By Robert Horton Herald Movie Critic
  • Thursday, March 25, 2010 3:08pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

“How to Train Your Dragon” co-director Dean DeBlois has been living in Seattle for a couple of years now. And he hasn’t really lived here very much. Such is the life of an in-demand filmmaker.

When DeBlois bought a house in Seattle in 2008, he expected to settle in and get some screenwriting done. Instead, DreamWorks Animation called, needing somebody to retool a big 3D animation project that called for serious story work.

That project, which DeBlois tackled with his “Lilo &Stitch” directing-writing partner Chris Sanders, was “How to Train Your Dragon.” So he has had good reason for not feathering the new nest — not when the work was in Hollywood.

I met Dean DeBlois in a Seattle hotel room for a publicity tour for the movie. The genial, 39-year-old native Canadian spoke with the assurance of someone who knows his film has played well with test audiences and has the backing of a big studio.

This being the age of “Avatar,” I had to ask his take on 3D technology.

“The 3D process was already part of the project when we came on,” he said. “Jeffrey Katzenberg (the dean of DreamWorks animation, as he was at Disney in the ‘Little Mermaid’ years) has been a huge proponent of adapting to 3D for a while.”

To get things right, DeBlois and his crew were paid a visit by none other than the King of the World himself, “Avatar” director James Cameron.

“Yeah, Cameron came in to talk about 3D,” DeBlois said, “and one of the useful things he reminded us about was that the world is in 3D.”

We see the world in 3D all the time, so the filmmakers felt they didn’t need to use 3D as a gimmick in which everything hurtles toward the camera.

“On this, we got together with consulting cinematographer Roger Deakins (the Coen brothers’ brilliant photographer) and agreed that 3D wouldn’t be the cart that led the horse — we’d let the moments naturally dictate when 3D would be used.”

He drew a distinction between Cameron’s motion-capture technique with actors and the animator’s freer hand.

“Cameron’s approach is not subject to an animator’s interpretation,” he said.

“We do have cameras on stage when the actors are recording dialogue, so we can pick up gesture and facial expression, but the animators create the visual performance.”

Now that the dust has settled on “How to Train Your Dragon,” DeBlois is mulling over ideas in the “family adventure” vein.

“When I was young, one of my favorite movies was ‘Escape from Witch Mountain.’ I like teens at the core of the story, with a touch of the supernatural.”

He’ll likely be working on that in his Seattle home, until the telephone rings again.

Talk to us

More in Life

Jerry Wennstrom with “Lightning,” a multi-layered sculpture. Wennstrom’s second body of artistic work consists of several tall, wooden sculptures resembling women that are meant to represent complex themes of birth and death, good and evil, femininity and masculinity. (David Welton)
Meet a Whidbey sculptor who makes interactive, eccentric art

Jerry Wennstrom publishes a book detailing his artistic body of work, which emphasizes feminine figures.

FILE - This 1972 file photo shows Elvis Presley during a performance. The AP reported on July 14, 2017, that a story claiming a dead homeless man in San Diego was identified as Presley is a hoax. Presley died in 1977. (AP Photo, File)
Who was cooler: Elvis or the Beatles?

It depends on which generation you ask — but don’t ask the author’s kids. They’re into Nirvana.

Even if you haven’t watered your landscape in the past 100 days, or watered very little, get outside and give your plants a good soak. (Getty Images)
It’s dry out there, so water your yard — please!

After 100 days of no precipitation, your garden badly needs a drink. So grab a hose and get to work — it’s well worth the slightly higher water bills.

The fortified ghost town of Vathia, on Greece’s Mani Peninsula, was once as wild as our Wild West.
Rick Steves: The best way to spend two weeks in Greece

The nation’s true joy and character can be found outside of touristy Athens and the islands.

The all-new Kia Sportage X-Pro model comes standard with all-terrain tires and 17-inch matte black off-road wheels. (Kia)
2023 Kia Sportage has two new models aimed at the outdoorsy

The X-Pro and X-Pro Prestige have all-terrain tires, all-wheel drive, and all kinds of ground clearance.

Women came from all over the Pacific Northwest to “glamp” and raise money to send girls to Girl Scout Camp from Sept. 16-18. The next opportunity to glamp at Camp River Ranch will be Sept. 8-10, 2023. (Jennifer Bardsley)
Women’s glamping retreat raises money to send local girls to camp

I’ve been the camper, the counselor, the Girl Scout leader and the mom. Now, I was the glamper.

Effective discipline: Why rewards work better than punishment

Rewarding positive behavior, whenever it appears, can be a very powerful tool for encouraging cooperation.

Air Canada voucher for $528 has been missing for three months

Where is Herb Sharpe’s $528 flight voucher from Air Canada? He’s been waiting for more than three months, but the airline hasn’t sent it yet.

Abelia 'Edward Goucher' (Richie Steffen)
Great Plant Pick: Abelia ‘Edward Goucher’

This shrub blooms from summer to late autumn, which will make the pollinators happy.

Most Read