Having served as creative executive on the Academy Award nominated films Toy Story and Runaway Brain, Lori Forte is no newcomer to Oscar night anticipation. But this year’s ceremony carries even more significance as Ice Age, a film she spent four years developing and producing for Twentieth Century Fox Animation, is up for Best Animated Feature.
"I’m very psyched," she tells Animation Magazine Online. "It’s a really nice reward. We did it just because we loved it. These movies take so long to make and there are so many people involved that you just really have to have a passion for it and do it because you really love the story and the characters. Any awards you get for it, I know people have said this before, but it really is the icing on the cake."
So how does Forte size up the competition? "We’ve all been in production for pretty much the same length of time and we’ve all known about each other for a long time," she notes. "I don’t think this is necessarily a sizing up time. I think everybody has known all of our sizes for some time now."
Forte goes on to say, "The fact that they were able to nominate five films this year is astonishing. I think it shows that more and more animated movies are being accepted by audiences and are becoming films to go and see and applaud. I think we’re in a great category and in great company. Any one of them has a great shot."
This is only the second year for the Best Animated Feature category and some in the industry still have mixed feelings about it. Some critics say it marginalizes animation by shutting it out of the Best Picture race. Forte disagrees, asserting, "I think it’s a great thing for animation. I only wish they would have other categories for animation so they could recognize individuals like the writers and directors. Though I know Best Feature sort of encompasses everyone, there are people who give years of their lives to a feature that they’re so passionate about and I would love to see them recognized for all their hard work. But at this point, I’m thrilled that they have an animated feature category. I don’t think it marginalizes it. I think the fact that they actually had feature animation announced with the other awards [nominees] during the live presentation – that’s a huge thing!"
Speculating on what her life is going to be like between now and the big night, Forte says "I don’t know. This is my first time going to it. The wonderful thing about Ice Age for me, and probably for all of us, is that it really is a celebration of firsts. It’s the first feature directed by Chris Wedge, It’s the first feature that I’ve produced, it’s the first CG feature that Blue Sky has done as a studio and the first CG feature that Fox has done as a studio. So I think everybody will just be having a lot of fun enjoying whatever activities or phone calls or notes we get between now and then. I just think it’s going to be fun."
While the excitement of Oscar night is something we’re all looking forward to, Forte says that for now it’s work as usual. "I’m not involved with Robots, but there are a couple of projects beyond that I’m right now developing and working on. But, of course, I can’t talk about them just yet."
Robots is the next Fox/Blue Sky feature project coming down the pipeline. According to Forte, the studio seems very committed to continuing its partnership with the animation studio.
The 75th Academy Awards will be held on March 25 at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood. The ABC network will carry the live broadcast.