For an actor who has spent his most successful screen roles clad in technology making him resemble a cross between a bald superhero and Pinhead, Andy Serkis clearly loves his job. Under the eye of his own production studio, The Imaginarium, he is now set to direct a motion capture version of George Orwell’s political tale, Animal Farm.
The book we were forced to read at school and sensed a subtext but were too busy trying to figure out the subtext in Lord Of The Flies to pay it any attention, Animal Farm subtly masks day-to-day farmyard tribulations to reflect the pre-World War II era of Joseph Stalin.
As a classically-trained thespian Serkis leapt from conventional roles to a calling in motion capture performance. After being lured into Peter Jackson’s The Lord Of The Rings trilogy as the bald-headed grandma trying to retrieve her lost wedding ring -also known as Gollum – he continued as King Kong in Jackson’s remake, Caesar in Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes and has since reprised his role as Gollum for the upcoming two-parter, The Hobbit.
The Imaginarium, a motion-capture studio created with producer Jonathan Cavendish in 2011, intends to incorporate multiple filming styles for the project – according to Serkis, who told THR:
“It is definitely using performance capture, but we are using an amalgamation of filming styles to create the environmments. We are in proof-of-concept stage at the moment, designing characters and experimenting on our stage with the designs. It is quite a wide canvas as to how much and how far we can take performance capture with quadrupeds and how much we will be using facial [capture]. We are not discounting the use of keyframe animation or puppeteering parts of animals. We are in an experimental phase; it’s terribly exciting.”
As ambitious as this sounds, The Imaginarium specialises in this technology and Serkis performed duties as second unit director on The Lord Of The Rings, demonstrating a mesh of tech with talent. And puppeteering AS WELL? Although in early development stages this project could invoke a Dark Crystal/Labyrinth meets The Lord Of The Rings level of handiwork. Either that or it could turn out like Terrahawks meets….no, wait, there’s no level of motion capture scarier than Terrahawks.
Sadly, we can’t expect the animals to disagree on who really mucked out the horses’ stable (think it has a sexual undertone) by brandishing weaponry and beating the crap out of each other. Andy Serkis revealed more about the film’s tone and what will most definitely not be an R-rating:
“We’re keeping it fable-istic and [aimed at] a family audience. We are not going to handle the politics in a heavy-handed fashion. It is going to be emotionally centered in a way that I don’t think has been seen before. The point of view that we take will be slightly different to how it is normally portrayed and the characters—we are examining this in a new light.”
Sounds to us like an absolute winner — nothing better than a new spin on an old yarn. What do you think of Andy Serkis producing and directing Animal Farm? Have your say in the comments below.