Highlights of the How To Train Your Dragon 2 press conference.
DreamWorks Animation is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and Cannes has joined in the celebration by screening How To Train Your Dragon 2. The studio’s CEO, Jeffrey Katzenberg, who has trained and tamed a few dragons of his own, said at the press conference for the film that he is excited to be back to Cannes after previously showing Shrek, Spirit and Madagascar here. “We have loved being a part of Cannes and Cannes has loved us back,” the mogul said.
Producer Bonnie Arnold told journalists that her head started to spin when Dean DeBlois first pitched her his ideas for the sequel because “it was bigger, grander, more characters, more dragons”. But, interestingly enough, in parallel to the creative team coming up with the idea for the film, DreamWorks had been working on an upgrade to all the software systems and How to Train Your Dragon 2 was the first film to use the new Apollo system, which, according to Arnold, “fit really well with some of the things [they] were really trying to achieve in the look and sort of the scope and epicness”.
How to Train Your Dragon 2 is adding to the polemics of women directors and female figures in Cannes as the animated feature abounds in female characters who are in the middle of the action, who are not “standing on the sidelines cheerleading” but are “in the thick of it, and most of the time causing the trouble”, according to America Ferrera, who is among the star-studded voice cast.
Cate Blanchett gave her opinion on being a working mother, saying that there is a whole raft of judgment that comes when one plays a mother onscreen, “as if a mother is a typical archetype, you know, every mother is the same which of course is absolute rubbish”. It is a question that is only ever directed towards women and to her mind, we live in a world “where there is still no equal pay for equal work and I don’t understand in 2014 why that’s not the case” without necessarily singling out the film industry, but speaking about every industry. “I think it’s absolutely appalling and I feel like sometimes we are back in the Middle Ages… It’s still surprising we’re still asking those questions.”
Speaking of her own mothering skills, she said when asked about being an Oscar winner and a mother, “Everyday, mommy sits them down and I get my two Oscars out and let them stroke them for fifteen minutes before they go to school, if they’re good.”
Kit Harrington shared the joys of growing up with his character in HBO’s hit TV series Game of Thrones but he said it’s funny that his roles “sort of put where you’re taken and I seem to be taken towards dragons, horses and cold places”.
As far as the future of the franchise is concerned, the next film will be the last as this saga as was envisioned as a trilogy, although it was inspired by 11 books by authoress Cressida Cowell, a generous collaborator with the studio. What preoccupies DreamWorks CEO Katzenberg is that he is not sure Dean DeBlois will succeed in telling the third installment of “one of the most beloved movies and stories that [they] have” in 95 minutes, this being the only thing they have argued about over the course of seven and a half years. Deblois revealed that movie number 3 will explain the existence of the dragons but did not want to divulge more on its content.