The Animation Lab in Israel has begun work on its first animated feature, which is being produced under the working title The Wild Bunch. The CG film is now in pre-production with Annie Award winner Jim Ballantine (Bambi II, The Ren & Stimpy Show) producing.
The Wild Bunch is described as an animated comedy-adventure about a ragtag team of common wildflowers and plants who are attacked by an evil army of genetically modified cornstalks determined to take over their idyllic meadow. Making his directorial debut with the film is Alex Williams, an animator and storyboard artist whose credits include Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Lion King and Open Season. Most recently, Williams supervised the animation on Disney’s upcoming live-action/CG feature Underdog.
‘We are honored to partner with Alex, who is recognized by his peers as one of the industry’s true talents,’ says Animation Lab president Ayelet Weinerman. ‘As we move forward with this project, we are pleased to have assembled a team of the top animators and storytellers in our profession. Our goal is to reward passion and vision in a creatively friendly environment.’
Overseeing production for Animation Lab is exec VP of creative affairs Douglas Wood, who served as creative exec on The Iron Giant, Cats Don’t Dance and Tiny Toon Adventures. He says he reviewed more than 200 pitches, stories and scripts before latching onto the Wild Bunch treatment by Philip LaZebnik, who has written for Disney’s Pocahontas and Mulan, DreamWorks’ Prince of Egypt and two Star Trek television series. LaZebnik was hired to write the screenplay for the film, which is the first of six features Animation Lab plans to produce in the next eight years.
‘It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find properties for which CG is the perfect medium,’ Wood tells us. ‘So I was thrilled to discover Phil’s treatment for The Wild Bunch, which will fully utilize computer animation to tell a story that, ironically, extols the virtues of a natural world in which technology is trumped by humanity.’
Based in Jerusalem and Los Angeles, Animation Lab is dedicated to producing mid-range budgeted features that will be financed by a group of international venture funds led by company chairman and founder Erel Margalit, managing partner of Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP).