A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon – Behind the scenes with film directors Will Becher and Richard Phelan
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- Published on Thursday, 17 October 2019 20:44
- Last Updated on 17 October 2019
- Monica Costa
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From the multi-Academy Award-winning studio that brought you Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit, comes A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, a hilarious tale of friendship and mischief between the world’s favourite sheep and an adorable alien, as they embark with the whole flock on an epic and out of this world adventure to send her back home. A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon is a truly awesome, original new family animation. I’d say it’s the coolest family plasticine SciFi animation of all time! Think E.T. meets Star Wars at Mossy Bottom. It lands in cinemas on October 18th.
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon continues the production partnership between AARDMAN and STUDIOCANAL following the success of SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE directed by Mark Burton and Richard Starzak, which grossed $106 million worldwide and Nick Park’s prehistoric comedy adventure, EARLY MAN.
The audiences witness the strange lights over Mossingham which herald the arrival of a mystery visitor from far across the galaxy. When the intergalactic visitor – an impish and adorable alien called LU-LA – crash-lands near Mossy Bottom Farm, our hero Shaun soon sees an opportunity for alien-powered fun and adventure and sets off on a mission to shepherd LU-LA home. Her magical alien powers, irrepressible mischief and galactic sized burps soon have the flock enchanted. Shaun takes his new extra-terrestrial friend on the road to Mossingham Forest to find her lost spaceship, unaware that a sinister alien-hunting agency is on their trail. Can Shaun and the flock avert Farmageddon on Mossy Bottom Farm before it’s too late? This all exclusive preview is your chance to be the envy of your friends and family now! But be careful, you might have alien hunters on your tail!
A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon is directed by Richard Phelan and Will Becher, produced by Paul Kewley, written by Mark Burton and Jon Brown, with Executive Producers Mark Burton and Richard Starzak, Peter Lord, Nick Park, Carla Shelley and David Sproxton.
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Prepare for lift-off as Shaun is back for his biggest adventure yet in, A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, and takes the world’s favourite woolly hero and plunges him into an hilarious intergalactic adventure he will need to use all of his cheekiness and heart to work his way out of. We all loved every second of it especially all the references to famous sci-fi movies and many TV programmes. It’s the best animation for the whole family of 2019. This time it needs to win an Oscar!
London Mums’ rating: 10/10
Kids’ club rating: 10/10
Behind the scenes with film director (at his directorial debut) Will Becher and co-director Richard Phelan
Here’s my interview with two incredibly talented directors.
Monica: We’ve been tweeting each other for so long. The movie was so good, better than the first one, which we loved. We never thought you could make an even better film. The kids said it actually. But I have to agree with them. The tie-in with the lunar anniversary and the space exploration was perfect.
Will Becher: We did not know what to expect, but it was really lovely to get that response at the weekend.
Monica: Aardman always brings out completely original stories and it keeps surprising audiences, unlike other film studios. Aardmam is all about original stuff, so highly original that you can’t really compare it to anything done before. Farmageddon is your directorial debut, but you are an alumnus of the TV series and Animation Director on Nick Park’s EARLY MAN. It took 4 years to make A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon. What were the main directorial / production challenges to make this movie?
Will Becher: Getting the opportunity to work on it was fantastic. A dream come true for me. And I think from the outset it was a very ambitious project. It was different to the first film. We wanted to make sure it didn’t feel like it was a follow up necessarily but a separate story. And so really crafting that story around the sci-fi genre, but trying to make it feel like you have the emotional weight of the show and maybe some new things to that. It was a big challenge to get a story working.
Richard Phelan: It’s a very, very long pre-production process to make sure that everything is going to work.
Monica: Shaun’s new, extra-terrestrial visitor and friend was aptly named Lulaas a nod to the 50th Anniversary of the Lunar landing in July. Lula is a very cute new space character. It has a special appeal like Shaun itself. Do you think it might be considered for its own tv show in the future?
Will Becher: Well it’s possible. When she came across on screen for the first time, we were nervous. We had some tests done, but she’s almost like an extreme version of Shaun. I think we touched the surface of where she can go in the future.
For Shaun second outing in cinemas, we wanted to push the character to places he had genuinely never been. And in ways that were bigger, better – more like an epic, Sci-Fi movie. We wanted to try to make it feel like a very big, cinematic, very much sci-fi extravaganza, and open up Shaun’s world in a way that we’ve never seen before. It really plays to that classic, Steven Spielberg-style sci-fi genre. The sci-fi genre is famous for its iconic villains, and we really wanted to deliver on that with ours. So, we had various meetings trying to figure out who she was. There were lots of different approaches. But, really, we wanted to have a character that wasn’t black and white, who wasn’t a villain just for the sake of being a villain. That was Agent Red.
Richard Phelan: Capturing that spirit of classic sci-fi – and appealing to all ages – was crucial for us. And, from the reaction the finished film has enjoyed at early screenings, it would seem to have paid off in spades. The parents saw a really valuable story for their kids about responsibility of relationships. The kids loved meeting a new friend and a new character.
Shaun the Sheep’s blissful – if occasionally mischievous – everyday existence is upended entirely by LU- LA. And she’s not just an excuse for some hilarious and action-packed set-pieces, but a character who throws Shaun’s beloved family dynamic into chaos. Usually the rebel of the stories – straining against the authoritarian rules of the long-suffering sheepdog Bitzer, Farmageddon sees Shaun discover an all-new, and deeply terrifying, emotional frontier. For once, Shaun has to be, relatively speaking, the sensible one. He has to start to grow up, to look after her. That’s something he’s never had to do before. It’s up to Shaun to get LU-LA home safely. But he’s going to have to pull off all of his greatest ever tricks if he’s going to do it.
We studied classic sci-fi for ages looking at the lenses they use, the frame, Kubrick’s compositional shots, Spielberg’s way of choreographing movement through the frame. Realising all this is incredibly meticulous in animation. You can’t just say, ‘the camera pans around’, you know?
It all helped expand the setting from what regular viewers of Shaun are used to – contrasting the everyday, deliberate plainness of his home farm with the colourful and surreal alien world and hardcore military tech. Shaun’s world in the TV series feels quite contained, quite small in a way. But here we picked at that surface, we said that underneath it are these secret government organisations. And that 10,000 light years away there is another planet. Then his world just gets huge and this is the biggest adventure Shaun has ever had.
LU-LA needed powers to do this or that. The designers went away and did hundreds of designs, crazy versions of her. Then, one of the designers drew a UFO with a little sort of rocket thrust underneath it. It was a silhouette and it was perfect. You’ve got think about what works in the world of Shaun because she has got to stand next to these characters and feel like she’s from that universe. And that was it. There are ideas that are knocking around in relation to that LU-LA reappearing in future Shaun the Sheep adventures. We have no shortage of ideas…
Monica: This is one of those movies that actually is not just appealing to children, but to the parents in equal measure. I really engaged with these characters. My son is now 13 but he’s always been a massive fan of Shaun the Sheep. I can see that because I love it as well. It seems intentional to have referenced all sorts of TV programs like Top Gear, with a magazine the farmers reads called Top Field, and many movies to make it more enjoyable for the whole family.
Will Becher: I am glad to hear that you enjoyed it as well because we, we’re trying to make films that appeal to us when we’re making them, we’re trying to make ourselves laugh too. All members of the crew and young members have had references from films. We were really influenced by films in the 80s like Back to the future, plus Stanley Kubrick as well.
There are lots of references that people would get straight away. And then there’s some other more subtle ones. We were trying to make the emotional journey. The fact that they both Shaun and Lula did not really knew each other at first and then through this journey they become really close friends and realise he’s got himself into deep waters.
Monica: I love references to E.T. and Star Wars, particularly the scene where the spaceship moves around like the Millennium Falcon.
Will Becher: It’s a bit like a love letter to all those films. We’ll always strive to have really engaging, funny and exciting characters at the heart.
Monica: There are so many favourite scenes I could mention, but what are your favourite scenes and why?
Will Becher: I love the Supermarket scene. All parents will relate to that. The Sugar rush craziness scene was fun to make. You don’t have to be parents to find it funny, though. Parents will associate with that one. She tries to eat something she’s never had before. And the sugar rush, it was so much fun to make it, because I got my son in at one point and I gave him lots of sugar and that made him jump around.
Richard Phelan: My favourite scene was the one on board the spaceship. We did a test screening [of the movie] and the reaction to LU-LA was amazing. It was scary sitting there, because we knew Lu-La was going to appear on screen in about 30 seconds and they were either going to love her or hate her. So, when she came on screen and all the rustling of sweets stopped and the whole room went, ‘Ahhhh!’ we were like, ‘Thank God!’”.
Monica: I struggle to choose one. There are so many good ones. I hope this time we’ll get an Oscar for this movie.
Check out your local listings now, visit https://www.farmageddonmovie.co.uk/
Head to our competition page to win ‘money-can’t buy’ merchandising with London Mums’ competition.
Each Farmageddon prize bundle includes the following branded items:
- Foam keychain
- Activity Set
- Fluffy Pen
- Badge Set
- Colouring Set
- Shaun Ears
We have two prize bundles to giveaway. Here’s what you need to do for your chance to win!
Please subscribe to one of the London Mums social media platforms of your choice
and write the name of your favourite character from Shaun the Sheep The Movie in the competition form here. Deadline to enter is midnight on 26 November 2019.
Monica Costa founded London Mums in September 2006 after her son Diego’s birth together with a group of mothers who felt the need of meeting up regularly to share the challenges and joys of motherhood in metropolitan and multicultural London. London Mums is the FREE and independent peer support group for mums and mumpreneurs based in London https://londonmumsmagazine.com and you can connect on Twitter @londonmums