Follow Us on Twitter

Over The Hedge - Karey Kirkpatrick/Jeffrey Katzenberg interview

Over The Hedge

Interview by Rob Carnevale

KAREY Kirkpatrick and Jeffrey Katzenberg talk about Dreamworks’ latest animated extravaganza, Over The Hedge, featuring a vocal cast including Bruce Willis, Steve Carell, William Shatner and Nick Nolte.

Karey Kirkpatrick (co-director)

Q. This project started as a comic strip. Can you give us a description of the journey from page to screen?
A. The comic strip gave us the two characters, Verne and RJ – Verne’s a very cautious, protective turtle and RJ is a very roguish, bald raccoon. What it gave us was a great point of view on human-consumer society. It was obviously a series of vignettes, so what we decided to do was tell the origins of the story of how RJ meets Verne and teaches them how to manage the human resources.

Q. Since making this film, has it changed your view of the kind of animals you may see in your back garden?
A. I do look at them a little differently actually. The Easter bunny visited our house on Easter – plastic eggs with candy inside them – and a certain squirrel visited our backyard and found them before our kids did and chewed through many of the plastic eggs. But I didn’t want to kill the squirrel in the way I would have in my youth because I was thinking of poor Hammy. We’ve always said: “Who’s in whose backyard here?” What’s interesting about the movie is that we take a look at human beings from an animal’s point of view. So every time I look at an animal in my backyard I think: “What must he be thinking?” But what’s fun about this movie is that this is happening everywhere, to everybody and what must we look like to them?

Q. Did you bring some of the animals you depict into the studio for the animators to draw?
A. Yeah, someone came in from San Diego Zoo. It was great. What we learned was that these creatures are so cute in their natural state that we had to figure out what to do above and beyond to make them look more like animated characters. The porcupines were really adorable and a real bear, so to speak, to deal with in animation because their quills kept killing everybody around them. You have to tell the computer when a quill is going to intersect something.

Q. Would you consider a sequel to this based upon the strong box office in the US?
A. Well we’ve all fallen in love with these characters and I know there are more stories that we’d all love to tell. We even talked many, many, many months ago about what would be the next chapter in their lives, which was a lot of fun.

Jeffrey Katzenberg (Dreamworks partner)

Q. Can you outline some of the technological challenges you faced on Over The Hedge and how they’ve moved on since previous films?
A. The amazing thing about making computer animated movies today is that things are changing at the speed of light, if not faster. Our artists are able to create these amazing worlds and amazing characters that have a believability about them. Sometimes that requires things that are bigger than life, sometimes it requires things that are very life-like and every year the power of these tools becomes greater and greater. Therefore, the things that you see on-screen have more and more complexity to them. I feel like we’ve got to a place now where there isn’t any limitation to it. People ask: “Where’s it going to go to?” Well, it’s going to go to wherever we can imagine and that will be the only limitation on what these movies look like.

Q. How do you go about making sure that these films appeal to all members of the audience?
A. I think that it’s achieved by a lot of very, very talented people working very, very hard. That begins with the writing, directing and producing of the film to the actors who do a tremendous amount of improvisational work. What we have been pursuing at Dreamworks Animation and continue to pursue is something that’s unique and particular to us and our movies. We’re trying to make films that are sophisticated and have a unique tone and attitude to them that are irreverent, subversive, that do have great, great comedy actors and identifiable comedy actors in them. It’s sort of the reverse of what these movies have been for 75 years or more which is adult movies that have appealed to kids as opposed to kids’ movies that appeal to adults. That’s our approach. It’s not better or worse, just different and it’s something we continue to chase and perfect. I’m sure we’ll be doing this for many, many years to come.

Q. Would you consider a sequel to this based upon the strong box office in the US?
A. Ultimately, it’s actually the movie-goers that decide that for us. We’re anxiously waiting to see how it does for us internationally but it’s been a big hit in the States.

Read our review of Over The Hedge
Bruce Willis interview