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Animalopolis Interview: Producer Paul Novros


Written by: BMZ Staff
Date: October 16, 2008

BMZ talks with producer Paul Novros on his latest project, ANIMALOPOLIS, a humorous journey into the world of animals.


Category: Interviews

Paul Novros has worked as an editor, composer and/or producer in the production of more than 40 documentary films and theatrical shorts, including four films that received Academy Award® nominations. His latest project, ANIMALOPOLIS, is a humorous journey into the magical world of animals.

BMZ: Hi Paul, thanks so much for doing this Q&A with us. How did you get started in the giant screen industry?

Paul Novros: My father founded Graphic Films in 1942, so I was, kind of, born into the industry. However, I wasn't interested in going into the business and survived as a working musician until I was 40 years old. Then, my father's ex-partner, George Casey, (my father had retired) called me and asked if I was interested in doing the music edit on an IMAX format film entitled Seasons. They would be using the music from Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons." I'd done some film scoring and music editing previously and enjoyed the process, so I signed on. Due to a number of factors, too complicated and implicating to list, I ended up being an executive producer of the film -- as well as music editor and consulting film editor. After a couple of years of working for free (cash flow problems) I finally got paid -- and was having a ball being a 'fiilm-maker,' so here I've been ever since.

BMZ: I've noticed most of your films focus on nature and wildlife. What is it about this subject matter that draws you to document it?

PN: Nature and wildlife.

But, seriously, it's pretty interesting stuff. And, it's kind of like non-injurious hunting. There's the thrill of the chase, without any bloodshed.

BMZ: Your latest film is Animalopolis. How did the idea for this film originate and what is the film's goal?

PN: The idea was brought to me by Timothy Huntley, a very talented editor and writer who had edited most of our films over the prior 15 years. Tim is the director and primary writer of Animalopolis. The content is derived from IMAX format footage that already existed in our library, so we were able to produce it for a quite reasonable amount. The primary target audience is children, ages 4 through 10, but we tried to design it so that it would appeal to older children as well -- and even adults (because they have to drive their offspring to the theater). So far the reaction, from all age groups, has been quite positive.

BMZ: The Giant Screen industry seems to have caught a bit of the "copycat" bug that sometimes plagues the feature film industry. Two dinosaurs films recently, numerous underwater films, and often a similar "formula" to films. What’s unique about Animalopolis?

PN: To answer as simply as possible -- everything. More specifically, Animalopolis is an episodic film, with a number of short animal stories, comedic in nature, with poetic narrative, designed for children. And -- there's not a dinosaur in it.

BMZ: One of my favorite sequences is the opera-singing lion. Was there a segment that you really got a kick out of?

PN: That's just about everyone's favorite -- including mine. But I think all the segments work pretty well. We were careful to design the film as series of complete short stories, so that the movie, as a whole, wouldn't feel like it was just a patchwork of scenes. Anyway, other than the singing lion sequence, people seem to enjoy the bird mating dance, bears clam-digging, zebras, and red crab sequences the most. That said, in our testing (which was extensive), all of the sequences faired very well with the primary audience.

BMZ: The film is filled with numerous funny animal segments, but were there any out-takes that you wished had been left in?

PN: Yes, but discretion being the better part of valor, they all hit the editing room floor. We had to keep it a "G" rating.

BMZ: I understand a 3D version will be released in 2009. How much of the footage was originally shot in 3D? Will some parts need conversion?

PN: Most of it will have to be converted -- all except a bit of originally created computer graphic content. Preliminary conversion tests look quite good.

BMZ: Any upcoming projects you can share with us?

PN: Hopefully, we'll be co-producing a Sean Casey film, entitled Tornado Alley. Sean has built a 'Tornado Intercept Vehicle' which he has successfully driven into tornadoes on two occasions, and survived to tell about it. The intercepts have been filmed in small format, but we need to document them for the giant screen (nee IMAX) format. If everyone out there is interested, we're looking for completion monies now. In the meantime, Sean's feats of daring-do have already landed him a couple of seasons of top-rated Discovery Channel shows, and one National Geographic feature that was a huge success.

We'll also, very likely, be doing another production with National Geographic (following up on our co-production of Forces of Nature), tentatively entitled Volcano. We're re-writing the script now, but it will essentially tell the stories of the 79 A.D. Vesuvius eruption that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum, and the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. There's an historical and tectonically fascinating link between the two -- but you'll have to see the movie to find out what it is.

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