Thursday, December 17, 2015

Small Studio, Big Ambition: Big Updates on Reel FX's 'Wish Police'

Reel FX is a studio I've been watching for quite a while...

They entered the theatrical feature animation game back in fall 2013 with a long-gestating film called Free Birds, a project that was compromised and seemingly focus grouped into mediocrity. If you look at the early concepts and read up on some of the reports, it sounded like it had some potential. The likes of Floyd Norman and John Kricfalusi worked on the project!

Before that movie even came out, we learned about The Book of Life, a personal Day of the Dead-flavored story helmed by Jorge Guiterrez with an animation style that looked like concept art come to life. A visually gorgeous movie with a unique premise and a pretty good script, it was a real surprise and something that the American computer animation scene really, really needed. Book of Life cost a small $55 million, much like Free Birds. Reel FX plans to keep their budgets low, and that's a great strategy because to me, the lower the budget, the higher the risks you can take!

They have several projects in the works, one of which is an untitled kung fu space western mash-up that Guiterrez is spearheading, and it sounds too epic for words. Another one, announced a while back, was a dark-sounding story called Wish Police, which would be the pet project of Alfredo Torres, Adrian Garcia, and Victor Maldonado. The trio - known as Headless - directed a hand-drawn animated film called Nocturna, which I have yet to see, but have heard nothing but good things about. From the looks of it, it seems very unique and different.

Back when it was announced by Deadline, we learned that the premise involved an organization that stopped bad wishes from coming true. The main plot involved a little boy who wishes his sister would disappear, so the Wish Police work hard to make sure that does not happen, because evil forces come out and make these wishes come true. It's a really awesome premise, one that's perfect for animation, and one that sounds a little dark.

Now, we have some updates on that project thanks to Cartoon Brew. Here is some very lovely concept art...

... And some words from Maldonado: "We couldn't be happier to unveil a glimpse of the unique visual style of Wish Police... We think our color palette and character designs — which you see only a hint of here — feel fresh and unexpected. We want to create a film whose visuals are as moving as its story."

Chairman/CEO of Reel FX Steve O'Brien says "From the beginning, Reel FX has been passionate about this project — execs and crew alike immediately connected with the story and style... We are thrilled to have brought together talent like Headless, Patrick, Margaret and Kirk to bring the film to life and join our team. It's our goal to be a home for filmmakers with unique voices, and Wish Police is no exception."

Whose Patrick, Margaret, and Kirk? Patrick Hanenberger (Rise of the Guardians' production designer), Margaret Wuller (visual dev on How To Train Your Dragon and The Croods), and Kirk Bodyfelt (producer of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, tech manager at Disney Feature Animation in the 90s/early 2000s). What a team. This film will look stunning...

Anyways, I'm all about Reel FX right now. Their slate has so much potential, and their game plan is rock solid. Make low budget features, but actually take advantage of those budgets and make things that are unlike what the other studios are making. This project sounds just as awesome as the other ones that are in development. Best of all? They have a release frame in mind! Late 2017 or early 2018...

I want to hear more about what's going on with Rock Dog, a Chinese co-production that's set to debut sometime next year in both the US and China (the US dub has a full cast). I guess for now, that'll be their third feature, with Wish Police being their fourth. Where does that leave Guiterrez's film? A 2019 release, perhaps?

What do you think? What are your thoughts on Reel FX? Which films of theirs do you think sound exciting? Sound off below!

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