Nimona on Netflix: "We believed in it too much to let the film die" (interview)

Nimona on Netflix: “We believed in it too much to let the film die” (interview)

Directors Nick Bruno and Troy Quane take us behind the scenes of their Dead and Risen animated feature.

Freshly arrived on Netflix, the animated film Nimona takes place in a futuristic medieval universe, where a knight wrongly accused of assassination (voiced by Riz Ahmed) teams up with a teenage shapeshifter (Chloë Moretz). At the Annecy festival, we spoke with directors Troy Quane and Nick Bruno, who tell us how this feature film originally intended for the cinema came back from the dead.

How did you find yourself in charge of Nimona ?
Troy Quane: We’re done directing The Incognitos at Blue Sky at Christmas 2019. The studio then asked us to come and help refine the story, which they have been working on for two years. We had an outside eye, which was put to good use for a year… before the pandemic started and Disney closed Blue Sky. Massive blow. But we took advantage of the Covid period to continue working on Nimona and develop a draft. Then we were lucky enough to find the producer Megan Ellison (boss of Annapurna Pictures), who was an unwavering support to succeed in getting the film out of the Disney safe.

Did you tour all the Hollywood studios to try to resuscitate the film?
TQ: No, actually a lot of people came to us as soon as Blue Sky closed. There was a form of excitement. The week Blue Sky closed, we were supposed to show our draft to all the teams on Thursday. But on Tuesday, we learned the news… We still made the screening and at that moment, we all understood that we had put our finger on something special. Which gave us the energy to fight and refuse to let the film die. We believed in it too much.

Nimona is the adaptation of a comic strip with which you take a lot of liberties…
Nick Bruno: Its creator, ND Stevenson, would tell you that when he started comics as a webcomic, it was mostly to test himself, to see if he could do it. The form was more than free and he didn’t even really think of telling a story. But when we read the comic strip compiled in paper format, we immediately saw that it was a love letter to the misunderstood, those who are pushed away because they are different. It also quickly became apparent that it was all about the LGBTQ community. So we tried to extract the essence of the comic and its themes, as well as the feelings it provoked in us when reading it. Not so easy to put all that in a film that is both fun and unique in its form! But the character of Nimona is fascinating and far removed from the usual heroine archetypes, and that helped us a lot to find the right tone. She is at the center of everything.

TQ: And we realized that there was something universal in the fate of these characters.

NB: At first, we thought we were going to make a film about accepting others. It was obvious. And then in fact, little by little, we understood that basically what is really important is that we can be seen as we are. We have the right not to love me, but from the moment when we understand who I really am.

Visually, what was the starting point?
TQ: I’m not going to lie to you: making a film that takes place in a medieval future is a crazy challenge! Elements of fairy tale and fantasy imagery were used, Merlin the wizard To The Sleeping Beauty, but since the story takes place in the future, visually everything had to be very contemporary. This is where the idea of ​​“2D ½” made by computer came about, a style that is both nostalgic and pure modernity. And it fit perfectly with this universe, a very advanced society but whose way of thinking has remained somewhat stuck in the past.

The graphic touch of Nimona reminds of the series Arcane, more angular. A random ?
Note: Absolutely! Who knows who started working on their project first… But it’s interesting your question, because I believe artists are just learning to use the technique of 3D animation differently. We make discoveries every day in terms of graphic possibilities, and it’s super exciting. The imagination has no limits, and we have only scratched the surface.

TQ: The technology is so advanced that you can now afford to play against your own rules. It’s fascinating.

Without spoiler, the end of Nimona calls a sequel. I would see an animation series to continue exploring the universe.
NB: And why not? Nimona existed long before us and will exist long after us. It’s always a bit silly to say that, but these characters become real for us to force to work on them. I would love to see a sequel.

TQ: In the end, without saying too much, we literally break down the walls and open the door to a new world. What will it be made of? And then he also Nimona’s shapeshifting nature offers endless possibilities.

NB: In any case if you want a sequel, send letters to Netflix!

Nimona, by Nick Bruno and Troy Quane, available on Netflix.

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