Los Angeles — Producer John Cohen was in an upbeat mood when he talked to us about his latest movie.
“Angry Birds Movie 2,” the latest installment in the popular franchise, is the story of the flightless angry birds and the scheming green piggies featuring a diverse cast that includes Red (Jason Sudeikis), Chuck (Josh Gad), Bomb (Danny McBride), Mighty Eagle (Peter Dinklage) Chuck’s sister Silver (Rachel Bloom) pigs Leonard (Bill Hader), his assistant Courtney (Awkwafina), and techpig Garry (Sterling K. Brown) among others.
“It is important in the world to have every person represented, and to go to see a movie and to be able to see yourself or hear yourself. We also had the great opportunity that these were some of the funniest people in the world,” Cohen said.
Asked what kind of research they did for the hyper fantasy so to speak of the movements of the animals, Cohen explained, “We did do a lot of research, especially on the first movie just looking at mannerisms and behavior that you find in birds and pigs. Of course our characters are first and foremost cartoon characters, but we do always love to get little details in that people know from birds in nature, or pigs in nature. We have a lot of squeals in the movie. The animators especially have studied a lot of nature footage and looked at a lot of that to really incorporate into the performances…”
He added that they used about 110 animators “at our peak, but we had a range where it got bigger and bigger, and then we scaled back down.”
“But we see a lot of videos that the animators film of themselves as they’re bringing a scene to life, or a character to life. You see these performances that they’re doing just alone with a camera and a mirror, and they’re just so, so talented.”
As for the specific jobs of each animator, he disclosed, “You know we have in our entire crew, in our core filmmaking team including the animators and our composer, and our designers, we have 29 different countries that are represented in the team of making the movie. It is such an important thing to us because we are making this movie for the world, we’re making it for a global audience. We’re not just making it for a US audience…
“By the way, it’s also such a great thing because we see just how universal some of the comedy can be as well. Their jokes, especially great physical jokes that play with big laughs no matter where they are in the world, and then there are some things that we really do tailor to different cultural perspectives.”
How difficult was it for him to come up with a team of scriptwriters to make it happen?
“Over the course of making an animated movie, which takes several years, you have many opportunities to test stuff out, and to try it out in a scene and to story board it,” Cohen pointed out. “You start with the script and you have some funny ideas on the page, and then a story board artist takes that and brings it to life with a physicality. Over the course of that time we have many opportunities where we’re showing the movie to different audiences, to people that are working on the movie, and to people that are just regular families out in the world. What you learn from those experiences is which ideas and which jokes are resonating, and connecting, and which one’s people are laughing at, and which ones they’re not laughing as hard at. If there’s a joke in the movie and we’re saying, oh gosh why didn’t that get a bigger laugh? We can go back and we can go back into it and make it funnier.”
Since the movie will be translated in different languages, how did they replicate that humor that’s culturally relevant to a certain market?
Cohen revealed, “It’s important that in our process of translating the movie and dubbing the movie in different languages around the world, that it is tailored to the sensibility of that specific language, and that specific market. So in each translation, in each dubbing process there are writers that are brought in that help with that translation and if there’s a joke that is a little bit too skewed to an English language sensibility, that will be changed and it will updated with a joke that works a lot better locally.”