DreamWorks Animation’s first family is back with an all-new original series, Dawn of the Croods. Dawn of the Croods will stream exclusively on Netflix Dec.24 and in the series, we will get to see a lot of first for mankind. The series will act as a prequel to the hit DreamWorks animated 2013 film, The Croods. In the interview below, I had the chance to talk to Dawn of the Croods‘ executive producer, Brendan Hay, as he talked about what we can expect from the new series and why it’s a prequel.
Chris “the Scoop” Salce: First of all, what is it like to be a part of this new project, which is a now a new franchise for DreamWorks?
Brendan Hay: It’s been really fun…it’s funny, it’s like we know we are a part of a franchise but sometimes we also forget it also. I’ve worked on other things where it can be a really tough time working with other brands. It’s like ‘Oh you have to check with so and so about this character or this detail,’ that sort of thing, and they have been amazing to work with here [DreamWorks]. It’s been a lot of freedom and really kind of letting us exist in our own space. It was nice that when I came onto the project, one of the only things that was set in stone was that it had to be a prequel ’cause they’re making a feature sequel. So it’s nice that we really do live in our own space and Chris [Sanders] and Kirk [De Micco], the feature directors, have been super supportive when we have had a question or had to bounce ideas off them but for the most part, we are doing our own thing, so it’s been great.
Chris: I’m curious as to why it’s the 2D animated style rather than like the style in the film.
Brendan Hay: One reason is because the fact that we are still going to be living side-by-side with the feature film on Netflix. We want to exist in our own space. We want it to be immediately clear to somebody that if they see the two options in front of them, that there’s a feature film and a tv series and both are totally worth watching but they look different from each other. We want to relate to the movie but also not simply recreate the movie. Also because with tv schedule and budget frankly, we probably can’t quite hit what they can pull off with cg, we are not going to be able to pull off in cg but we are going to be able to do really well in 2D. Especially because one of the things we loved in the feature is that it had a good mix of some big comedic action sequences, that is one style animation that 2D just works better for on with a tv timetable, cause with cg you can sit there and make sure it looks right, for tv, it’s a quicker turnaround and we just wouldn’t have a number of assets that we need to pull that off if we went cg versus 2D, where it’s a bit more quicker to design and be able to make it that way. And also honestly for us, we want to be a family sitcom, which means we also want to try to fit into that genre on tv. We want to be more of an all ages version of ‘The Simpsons’ or ‘Bob’s Burgers’, which meant that we wanted to embrace the 2D style and then taking the time to see what’s our 2D style that’s different from ‘The Flinstones’ or other things you’ve seen before that had cavemen in it. It’s actually a really fun challenge of kind of creating our own unique space that’s related to the movie but still feels unique to just our show.
Chris: Is it a bit trickier to do a prequel version than a sequel?
Brendan: Yes and no. It’s trickier sometimes coming up with stories because that’s just in our particular case. Our show takes place even before the invention of fire, so it’s a very limited pallet in terms of what the Croods can have or use, and the question we have to ask ourself on a daily basis in writing and boarding, is always ‘Wait…does this exist in our world?’ And if not, we have to show how they invented it. We can’t take anything for granted. However, one thing that I have discovered in general that’s major about prequels versus sequels, is in prequels, you know your end point. You know that you can kind of do whatever you want as long as it links up to this. Where as in sequels, that’s going back to your franchise question, that I think we would have a lot of difficulty ’cause then it would be running everything passed them ’cause we would have to make sure we’re hooking up with so many more things and not introducing a character that the feature might have to think about. At least here, we know for ourselves that we can do anything we want within this limitation and it’s really not that limiting in the sense of like what we have to hook up to.
Chris: What kind of things can we expect from this new series?
Brendan: Kind of what I respond to most in the film was the family dynamic. I love that it was a family that modern day people, we can all relate to their family dynamic but it’s still always felt uniquely prehistoric. It wasn’t like ‘The Flinstones’ where they tried to bring our modern world into caveman times. This was very much a caveman point of view, where we were experiencing all these kinds of things for the first time in human history. So jumping off of that, I was trying to create the show with a sense of like what would the world’s first family sitcom ever be? So our Croods characters go through things for the very first time in human history and it’s things that we take for granted. Like we have an episode where the family takes the first nap in human history and in their times, it was like ‘Okay, we sleep at night, we work during the day,’ but they fall asleep during the day and all their neighbors assumed ‘Oh, they must be dead.’ Then when they wake up, they have to convince their neighbors that they’re actually not dead. We have an episode where we have the first case of hiccups, which again, here it is a mind-boggling mystery that takes a team to solve. They have no idea if there’s something inside of you, how could they be making this noise? Trying to really set up the idea of firsts, that’s really kind of been the engine of our show, just exploring what it would be like to be the first. Another thing for people to expect is we also have a lot of mashup creatures. Things like a bear and owl in one. So it’s part of filling out this world and really flushing it out. More mashup creatures and also flushing out a community for the Croods. Seeing what other cavemen and other types of people were back then. It’s been fun building a little Springfield of our own, around them.