Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs came out of nowhere. The marketing wasn’t exactly enticing, selling what appeared to be a fairly average animated adventure. The movie wasn’t that. At all. Phil Lord and Chris Miller made a shockingly nerdy movie. What other animated movie can you think of that has gummy bears and a Twilight Zone referenced packed together? Not many.
When Sony announced the sequel, Lord and Miller had their hands busy with 21 Jump Street, making it impossible for them to direct. They ended up tapping the shoulders of Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn, a duo who worked on the first film. Pearn was head of story, while Cameron was one of the senior artists. Although Lord and Miller are still involved with the project as executive producers, it sounds like Cameron and Pearn are staying true to the sensibility they brought to the first film.
Here’s what the two filmmakers had to say about why food are people too and how Dances with Wolves inspired the film.
What was your pitch to Sony?
Kris: Basically, it was building off the idea of the monster movie. We had some of the alive food in the first film, but while we were working on the story, we had a whole different ending we didn’t have a chance to realize because of budget and plot. Our pitch to Sony was we wanted to make a monster movie and have Flint going from being the only guy with a labcoat to everyone having a labcoat; he has to deal with that. He’s trying to maintain his friendships and realtionships, as he’s developing creatively.
Where are Flint and Sam at?
Kris: Well, Flint and Sam move in together, but then of course Flynt begins to make…
Cody: Not the best of choices.
Kris: We looked at a lot of 80s movies. What happens to the uncool kid when he begins to come cool?
What was surprising about the first movie was how nerdy it was. Would you say the same for the sequel?
Kris: Definitely. We worked on the first film for so long. We understand the tone and get that sense of humor.
Cody: Going into the monster genre we already had new things to play with.
The obvious reference would be Jurassic Park…
Cody: Oh yeah.
What other films served as influences?
Cody: Goonies and Gremlins were big references.
Kris: The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi are in there.
Cody: There’s something Dances with Wolves in there [Laughs].
Kris: Dancing with Ewoks. Maybe some Ghostbusters.
Please elaborate on Dances with Wolves.
Cody: We have a bit of a noble savage story, in how food are people too. As Flint goes into this adventure, we learn about his own creativety and his response to it evolves.
The first movie was packed with background details that pop on repeat viewings. Are there any people should lookout for on this one?
Kris: People should keep an eye out for the sasquatch. He pokes his head out of different bushes. Our animators said they’d love to put him in different places throughout the film.
Cody: We never call him out. He’s sort of there. And for lovers of the first film, Noodle Guy pops up every now and then.
The first movie embraced how you can do anything with the camera in animation. Do you both prefer that camerawork or, like some other filmmakers, want shoot at is if it’s live-action?
Cody: I think we tried to stay true to that camera language, but also evolve certain things. You know, we love locked off shots of two characters just talking. Those shots are great for animators as well because it’s not just a constant moving camera; it’s letting it settle for a while. We’re both huge fans of Wes Anderson’s films, and it’s nice to have a nice wide shot like his locked off. You can enjoy the animation that way.
Kris: I always said on the first Cloudy that camerawork was between a Woody Allen film and a Jerry Bruckheimer film, and that could switch in a second. We definitely push the “what’s in the bushes?” thing.
Cody: Predator is another reference there.
Kris: We have a lot of that POV stuff. We have more of that in this movie because of the nature of it.
Did you shoot in 3D?
Cody: In the virtual camera there are two cameras there ready to shoot 3D. For the 2D, they just turn off one of the cameras, so we can have a whole version rendered in 2D, but get the 3D by turning on the other camera.
Kris: I believe Cloudy was the first Sony Pictures Animation movie we shot in 3D. The other two were processed after the fact. As story artists, we had crash courses in what works and doesn’t work.
What would you say works and doesn’t work?
Kris: For me, I’d always say it’s better when the frame stays the frame and you play into it.
Cody: Almost like looking into the shoebox, instead of things coming out of the screen.
Kris: The nice thing about Cloudy is that it’s widescreen, so it gives us a lot of room to fit our character. Even in our over-the-shoulder shots, we try to keep things on frame so you get that sense of depth, as oppose to cropping.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 opens in theaters on September 27th.