The trailer for the upcoming DreamWorks, the adaptation of the children’s graphic novels The Bad Guys, has just been unveiled. For the occasion, DashFUN was able to speak with the director Pierre Perifel, a Frenchman living in the United States.
After crazy adventures on paper, the Bad Guys created by Aaron Blabey will be entitled to a feature film on the big screen. And it is to a Frenchman, Pierre Perifel, that DreamWorks has entrusted this adaptation expected in cinemas on April 13, 2022. Meeting with a man who drew his inspiration from both sides of the Atlantic.
DashFUN: This is your first feature film, how do you find yourself at the head of such a production from DreamWorks studios?
Pierre Perifel: In fact, I’ve spent most of my animation career at DreamWorks. I have been there since 2008 and I started as an animator, which I had done a bit in France before. Things were done little by little. From animator I went from supervisor to animation director. I was also a storyboarder and a designer.
In 2018, I made a short film, Bilby. I really found myself on this short as a director. So I then asked DreamWorks to make a feature film and they gave me their trust. I then came across the Bad Guys project from a series of Australian books by Aaron Blabey. When I saw the cover of the first book with the 5 villainous animals it reminded me of Reservoir Dogs. Tarantino for children!
It’s an ultra strong concept with 5 iconic animals and I immediately had a vision of what it could be like in a feature film. So the pitch was to make a Tarantino film, but for children. Or an Ocean’s Eleven for the kids. I immediately made a trailer in the form of a storyboard to better show my vision of the thing. I also gave a detailed presentation and the studio then gave me the green light to start production of the feature film. It was 3 years ago and now we are almost done with this amazing experience. I really had a blast and the movie is super cool.
What made you want to come and settle in the United States rather than stay in France?
I come from the Gobelins school in France and there were several French animators who went to the USA who made me dream. And I wanted to learn from them all the magic of animation. When I graduated from Gobelins, I did a short that caught DreamWorks’ attention and they contacted me.
So I took the opportunity even if it was a bit difficult to leave at the beginning because I had just got married and had a little baby. But after two years I adapted well to this new life. It is a wonderful experience to live abroad and discover the American system. We left to stay for 2 years and we are still here, 14 years later!
They give you all your chances if you know how to seize them.
The great thing about DreamWorks is that you can progress quickly and gain promotion quickly based on your performance. Internal promotion works well and they really give you all of your chances if you know how to take them. I’m someone who quickly gets frustrated if I don’t learn, whereas at DreamWorks I didn’t and I always have to learn something new and improve.
It’s a dynamic that allows us to show what we are capable of and to prove that we want to grow. The studio regularly does what it can to promote people. In any case, I’m still super motivated and I’m really lucky to be able to touch everything and to work with a whole bunch of talented artists.
How did you adapt this book series, The Bad Guys, to “DreamWorks sauce”?
In fact, the goal was not to make totally “DreamWorks sauce”. Aaron Blabey, the writer, was not originally a draftsman and therefore his illustrations are very simple. We couldn’t adapt them as they were. And so I set to work to find a style of animated illustration that was not classic and not in line with what we see at Disney or Pixar or even with us at DreamWorks.
Suddenly, the influence, in terms of design, is rather French. With influences from Uderzo or Franquin. But there is also the influence of Akira Toriyama and Dragon Ball! For me it was to bring back a much more illustrative imagery. There are no straight lines in our film, it’s like a painting: it’s totally unstructured. We mixed 2D with 3D, making things visually simple and …