Today is the day that Ga’Hoole fans have been waiting for! Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (rated PG) is hitting theaters today, and we have an exclusive interview with Kathryn Lasky, the author of the Ga’Hoole series, to talk about what it was like making her books into a movie.
Q: What surprised you the most about making your books into a movie?
Lasky: What surprised me the most is how complex and difficult it is to do an animated film as opposed to a live action one. So complex that it is really beyond me to explain but I’ll try to a little bit. Animal Logic, the animation company in Australia (creators of Happy Feet), already had one of the most powerful super computers in the world, but they had to upgrade it just to deal with the animation of feathers which is about the most extraordinary thing I have ever seen. But it’s not just the feathers—the facial expressions they capture are amazing. I have been told that they film the actors’ faces as they are speaking and then somehow make a digital map of their faces and transfer them on the real owl faces. This gives an emotional depth to the film that is profoundly stirring—or at least I think so. To sum it all up I imagined a universe and they brought it to life in a way that is simply mind blowing. Believe me, writing a book was easy compared to what these artists did.
Q: What was the hardest part?
Lasky: Without a doubt the hardest part was the waiting. Everything takes forever with a movie like this. This whole adventure began five years ago when I signed a contract for an option. That was the quickest part. Then Warner Bros. had to assemble a team and they did gather a fantastic array of talent. First the director Zack Snyder and his wife Debra Snyder, his producing partner, were chosen. Then they got John Orloff, the writer, and of course all the stars—Helen Mirren , Sam Neill, Geoffrey Rush, Ryan Kwanten, Hugo Weaving, Abbie Cornish. There were also the Animal Logic people headed by Zareh Nalbandian and his battalion of wizards. To make a film of the quality of Legend of the Guardians takes time and I am not the most patient person in the world, so waiting was hard.
Q: How will the movie compare with the books?
Lasky: A book is not a movie, so naturally there are some changes. But the most important thing is that Warner Bros. has remained faithful to the spirit and the basic plot line of the books. The characterizations of the owls are sheer genius. I know audiences will be soaring with Soren and the band! The best surprise of all was Eglantine. Honestly she nearly steals the show. I keep asking myself why didn’t I make her more adorable in the books? Maybe this is where the limitations of a writer versus a filmmaker come in. I could go on forever about the brilliant treatment of the owl eyes by the animators but Eglantine is a case in point.
I think it’s the addition of eyelashes that does it. My husband and I both think she looks like our two year old granddaughter Lulu. So the film in truth exceeds my expectations. There were actually things that I wished I had figured out how to do in the books what the writers, animators and directors accomplished in the film.
Q: What is your favorite part of the movie?
Lasky: Well, I have many favorite parts, but without a doubt the scene where Soren first flies with the weather chaw under the guidance of Ezylryb is one of the most breathtaking moments I have ever seen on a movie screen. He is flying through this torrential rainstorm. In 3D the raindrops are splattering you right in the face. You are totally with him as he seeks the air currents, the passages through this incredible weather. Obviously I am not a bird but I’ve done a great deal of ocean sailing in my life—twice across the Atlantic and once across the Pacific. I know weather and what it feels like even if I can’t fly.
Ooh, that sounds so cool! Let me know what you think in the Comments!
Image courtesy of Warner Bros.