‘Ice Age: Collision Course’ – Filmmaker Interview
Ice Age: Collision Course is directed by Mike Thurmeier with co-director Galen T. Chu. Mike has been working on the Ice Age features and shorts ever since the franchise’s debut in 2002, when he worked as a lead animation and contributed to some of the story. Mike also animated and provided layout for the film’s first short Gone Nutty (2002). In 2006, Mike was supervising animator for the second feature Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006) and landed his first director role in the franchise for the short No Time For Nuts (2006) – winner at the 34th Annie Awards in 2007 for Best Animated Short Subject. Since then, Mike has continued his work as a director for the Ice Age series, teaming up with Carlos Saldanha in Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009) and Steve Martino in Continental Drift (2012). Mike was supervising animator on Robots (2005), senior supervising animator of Horton Hears a Who! (2008) and even worked as an animator on Fight Club (1999); could this scene have been a sign that Mike was destined to work on Ice Age?
Lori Forte has been the producer of the Ice Age films since the very beginning, supervising the writers and contributing story ideas to all of the Ice Age features. Since joining the team at Blue Sky, Lori was also the producer of Epic (2013). Before the Ice Age films Lori was executive producer of Fox Animation Studios’ feature Bartok the Magnificent (1999) and was also a teacher of screenwriting at the American Film Institute.
Skwigly were able to catch up with Mike Thurmeier (Director) and Lori Forte (Producer) at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival and they were very happy to talk about their latest film…
How did you both join Blue Sky?
Lori Forte: Well, I was developing some animated projects for 20th Century Fox, I was a producer and had a producing deal and one of the projects I developed was Ice Age. And it’s interesting because it wasn’t necessarily supposed to be 3D, we started thinking of it for 2D and then ultimately they were going after Chris Wedgebecause they wanted to work with Chris. Chris was looking for a first film to direct and we had this wonderful script Ice Age, so they put us together and it just worked out really great. So that’s how I came to Blue Sky and as soon as we started pre-production it was really clear that it was the place to be. It was outside of Hollywood, just a great group of people, it had a real family feeling and we were all making a film for the first time, so it really felt like a great thing. It just evolved and grew and I’ve been at Blue Sky ever since.
Mike Thurmeier: I came right out of school at least a year before Ice Age came to Blue Sky. When I came out of school in 1997 the industry was just really blowing up, everybody was getting into it. I had been trained up in Canada at Sheridan College in traditional animation so I didn’t know anything about computer animation at all. When I came to Blue Sky for an interview I sat down with animator Steve Talkowski who gave me a little demo on computer animation on Softimage. It was like a light bulb moment, it totally opened my mind.
It was a great place, you could tell there was an energy to the company. They had big ideas and dreams and, they definitely wanted to get into features and had done stuff like Joe’s Apartment. Maybe when I started, they were just doing some work on Alien: Resurrection – the CG alien swimming through the water – and it looked really great. So when I came on it was like Okay, hopefully they’ll get a feature going. I did some special effects, commercials and a couple of little feature shots and then one day there was a big announcement – “we’ve got Ice Agecoming in”! It was great because at that time they literally had a lamp where they took off the lampshade and there was a green light bulb on it and they said “green light”!