When animation director Dino Athanassiou read Robert Louis Stevenson’s dark classic The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 10 years ago, he was haunted by turn-of-the-century, film noir images of Edinburgh and London and the surrealistic head-trips of a young doctor gone astray. Like Stevenson himself – who reportedly dreamed the tale during a fever and admonished his wife for waking him from such a "fine bogey-tale" – Athanassiou has been consumed by possible character designs, backgrounds and layouts for his interpretation of this psycho-horror tale.
Fortunately for this acclaimed sequence director (El Dorado, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron) and president of London-based Stardust Pictures, his visions of an "animated horror film that truly goes for the jugular" are about to become reality. During a private meeting with Animation Magazine at MIPCOM last week, Athanassiou, along with writer Alastair Swinnerton of London’s BA20 Entertainment; producer Christopher Panzner, and director of marketing and development Valerie Seban of Paris-based TEVA announced a deal to collectively fund the movie currently titled Jekyll and Hyde. Although the triad of houses would not reveal their budget, they confirmed that Athanassiou will direct and produce the animation through Stardust Pictures, Swinnerton with serve as scribe, and TEVA will take over the bulk of animation post production.
"This was a time when psychology was so new it was considered a black art," explained Swinnerton. "A time when religion and medicine were kept totally apart and experimentation of any kind was not accepted." With his script, Swinnerton hopes to explore the dark side of personality and the human conflicts that evolved from those social boundaries. Said Athanassiou, "This film is also about taking visuals to the edge, about exploring the surreal world of imagination." Panzner added that TEVA’s interest in the project came from the spectacular look and feel of Athanassiou’s concept art: the monochrome colors of the city juxtaposed with the psychedelic depictions of Jekyll’s mind.
During the announcement meeting – hosted by Magelis/Pole Image (the animation consortium of Angouleme, France) – Athanassiou and his co-producers showed us two stunning bust maquettes of Jekyll and Hyde, as well as their pitch book. If these unusually sensual and emotional designs offer even the slightest hint at the quality of production to follow, let’s just say… "We’re definitely excited."
In other news from the triumvirate, TEVA’s short masterwork The Tale of the Floating World, brought home best of show at Imagina. At MIPCOM BA20 introduced Terranoids, a theatrical movie, game, toy range and eventual television series developed by Swinnerton, John Wagner (creator of Judge Dredd), Alan Grant (long-time writer of Dredd and DC’s Batman) and Cam Kennedy (Dredd and Star Wars comics artist).