MAY 26, 2010
Welcome back to our 7th Production Blog.
This time I want to share with you the early development process we went through on “War of the Worlds: Goliath”. We welcome any comments and questions. You can address them to us on the Forum section of our site.
Epoch Ink Animation studio, 1998
“War of the Worlds: Goliath” began its life more than a decade ago, in 1998, as a germ of an idea at the Santa Monica studio of Epoch Ink Animation.
The Epoch team had just wrapped up work on our 26 episodes of the “Captain Simian and the Space Monkeys” series. During our two years of toil on that demanding series, Epoch’s team had developed into a very tight and highly skilled crew of designers and storyboard artists and to keep the team together we were doing lots of production and development sub-contracting work for different studios in the L.A. area, including Disney, MGM, DIC, Film Roman, Dreamworks, Sony and others.
Still, there was a fair amount of downtime opening up between projects and we began to look for ways to utilize the talents of this excellent crew. T.V. series production looked to be drying up for independent studios like Epoch, so we brainstormed other avenues for animation that could have a future. It seemed to me that producing original teen/adult animated content, not dissimilar to what the Japanese had been doing with their extensive OVA industry was the way to go.
So Epoch embarked upon a heavy and heady time of animation development which generated a number of outstanding scripts and design concepts for our proposed slate of films— “24 Hour Man”, “Quest”, “Time Wolf”, “Nemo” and others. But I felt strongly that some of these developments should have a built-in “marquee” to help sell them into what had become a very tough marketplace.
But what to do? Then the answer hit me like a heat ray! (sorry) H.G. Wells’ “The War of the Worlds” masterpiece was important to me on a very deep, personal level. The original novel marked my very first exposure to a mature science fiction book when I read it at the tender age of ten in the mid-60s. As I pondered over this great literary influence in my life, I wondered, what would the world have been like AFTER a failed alien invasion, in a re-imagined early 20th century?
So we set out to create a story and build a world set only 14 years after the Martian invasion of 1900. A world rebuilt with new technologies fused with the old. A world on the cusp of its first World War. A world in which the Martians returned and were met by an international army in their own steam-powered Tripods.
And we would use all of the classic characters of real world history to interact with our small band of heroes. Theodore Roosevelt, Manfred Von Richthofen, and Nikola Tesla (thank you, Chuck Patton, for THAT idea!) effortlessly flowed into our initial storyline.
Those were heady days at Epoch. As I wrote and developed the original story treatment and the back story, a crack studio team of artists brought the initial visuals to beautiful life.
The immensely talented and versatile character artist, Brad Coombs, quickly and expertly designed our main team and the core major supporting characters. Lieutenant Wells and the crew of the Goliath all came to life under his talented pencil.
My lovely wife Lisa brought her terrific color sense to bear on Brad’s designs further defining the look of their uniforms and weaponry.
Inspired by their “look”, I developed extensive biographies for each character attempting to create characters as fully formed and individualized as Brad’s designs. Little did I know that ten years later, talented actors like Peter Wingfield, Adrian Paul, Elizabeth Gracen, Jim Byrnes, Adam Baldwin, Beau Billingslea and many others would be bringing these heroes to life with their outstanding voice recordings.
Background and vehicle designer extraordinaire Harry Warner, soon had a full set of human tripod designs laid out and colored with his mighty marker set. In fact, each of his designs were so unique that I really couldn’t pick one and decided that each design would represent an individual country. So the U.S., Britain, Germany and Japan all got their own Tripods. All in a design style paying homage to the burgeoning steampunk genre.
And last, but not least, the super talented Korean artist, Young Yoon Gi put his unique stamp on the Martian Tripod of 1900. Menacingly organic, this was a worthy addition to the extensive gallery of imagined alien invader tripods created since the beginning of the modern sci-fi era.
Within a few weeks, the initial development was finished. We had created a unique and compelling story and look with epic conflict and stalwart heroes at war with a monstrous enemy. Surely the world would soon be witness to our retro-futuristic steampunk invasion.
Well, it took 9 long years of pitching and carrying the torch before a chance meeting on a bus in Tokyo set the stage for the completion of our dream. But more on that later...
Next Blog: Seoul Production Trip Part 1
AND LAST, BUT NOT LEAST
A set of new images from our ongoing production.