Stealing the March
By Adam Coleman
Production on the sequel to George Miller’s Academy Award-winning animated feature, Happy Feet, was officially started at Fox Studios in Sydney yesterday.
Miller – accompanied by dancers from the production dressed in motion capture suits – was tightlipped about his expectations for the sequel to Happy Feet, which won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature in 2006 and earned more than $384 million worldwide.
“You never know. Happy Feet was successful because it seemed fresh. But the stuff I am seeing now I am really happy with. The technology has moved so quickly in the last four years,” he said.
Miller pointed to the industry in Wellington, New Zealand, as a personal inspiration and benchmark for the kind of sustained production that needs to be developed in Australia.
“Look what they have done: Avatar and District 9 – two films nominated for visual effects. I don’t think I would have even attempted this had I not seen what they had done in Wellington. They have the best talent pool in the world,” he said.
In contrast, the Australian film industry has been complacent for around 20 years, he said.
"There have been moments of brilliance, but those moments have been unsustained. Wellington is a tenth the size of Sydney: 400,000 people."
The opening of a new state-of-the-art motion capture facility at CarriageWorks in Sydney’s Redfern is a positive step for the local industry, according to Miller.
“Now we have the most advanced motion capture studio in the world down at CarriageWorks – it is huge. There will be a huge amount of production going through there, if we can keep it in this country.”
Dancers from Happy Feet
At the launch, NSW Premier Kristina Keneally said the production was “terrific for our economy, terrific for our film industry” and will support over 500 jobs locally over three years.
“Like so many industries, the local film industry has been doing it tough as a result of the global financial crisis and 500 jobs to our local industry over the three years is very welcome,” she said.
“Here in NSW we have great locations, we have a strong, creative workforce and we have got the best film infrastructure in Australia.”
Actors Robin Williams, Elijah Wood and Hank Azaria have arrived in Sydney and will voice Happy Feet 2 over the next two weeks.