Thursday, June 11, 2015

'High in the Clouds' Progress Report


Remember hearing about an animated feature based on the Paul McCartney children's book High in the Cloud?

Fall 2013 brought the previous update on the long-gestating CG feature. (Which was being talked about since roughly 2009.) We were told then that Disney veteran Tony Bancroft was going to direct it, and Shrek Forever After scribe Josh Klausner would write. We were also told that they were eying a 2015 release date...

We heard nothing since...


It's 2015 now, and Rolling Stone ran a story on it recently. It won't be coming any time soon, but it's still a go.

The details...

McCartney has written seven-to-eight new (!) songs for the picture, one of which will be a collaboration with Lady Gaga. (Not sure how I feel about that, but moving on.) It's got a new director, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 director Cody Cameron. Klausner is still set to write the script. McCartney is also debating on whether he'll compose the film's score or not, which is interesting because his last film score was for the 1966 film The Family Way (which starred Hayley Mills), and he was barely involved with that too.

RGH Entertainment, the production house behind the project, is set to create a sizzle reel that they'll debut at the American Film Market in Santa Monica in November. Let's hope they get something done and have something to present, because I really want to see this thing move forward! I'm a massive Beatlemaniac through and through, and the thought of a McCartney animated feature is enough to sell me.

The book itself (the story was actually the subject of a 1997 short Tropical Island Hum that he worked on with the book's illustrator, Geoff Dunbar) is about a squirrel who is separated from his family after his home is destroyed by human development, and teams up with other animals to find a new home... An island, but on the way he will encounter all sorts of things, many ups and downs, including... War... This sounds a lot like Watership Down, actually, a British animated classic based on a classic British novel.

McCartney is no stranger to animation. There's Yellow Submarine, sure, but Paul embarked on some animated projects after the Beatles' breakup. Some got off the ground, some didn't (such as The Bruce McMouse Show). One notable example is Rupert and the Frog Song, but the ones that always fascinated me were Oriental Nightfish and Seaside Woman. The former was made by British animator Ian Emes in 1978, and it's very surreal and out-there, on top of having impressive animation. The song it's based on is an outtake from the Band on the Run sessions, the lead vocals on it were handled by his deceased wife Linda McCartney...


Seaside Woman came out two years later, and was directed by animation veteran Oscar Grillo, who would later consult on Men In Black and do visual development work for Monsters, Inc. The Annies honored him recently, and Seaside Woman was part of the montage, which caught me by surprise! Like 'Oriental Nightfish', 'Seaside Woman' was a Linda-sung leftover from one of the early Wings albums, the album in question being 1973's Red Rose Speedway. The song got a release in 1977 as a single. The short is pretty surreal like Oriental Nightfish, but much more playful and certainly less mysterious...


Anyways, I hope all goes well with this project. It seems like it's gone through quite a lot, so hopefully it finally takes the road to completion!

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