Karey Kirkpatrick Makes His Directorial Debut with Over the Hedge: Its just the right time. Ever since I wrote Chicken Little Jeffrey [Katzenbergs] actually been trying to get me to direct something there, explained Kirkpatrick. I got busy with some other writing projects and it didnt happen the various different things we had talked about. But the timing was right and the project was right.
Anything I do, if I write it or direct it, I have to feel like I have something to say about the topic. [This time it was] poking fun of the ugly American, which I am a proud card-carrying member. When I go England Im not as bad as some that I see there. But I call up, Can I get a pizza delivered please?, at like 10:30 at night. What? No? Why not? Can I get ice a lot of ice? Its fertile ground for some comedy, but also a message that I believe in in terms of family being important and selflessness over selfishness. Lots of things I connected with.
Pleasing the Audience: The filmmakers and voice cast of Over the Hedge had to balance the comedy to make it accessible not only to just kids but also teenagers and adults. Kirkpatrick explained how they went about finding the right tone. Our dirty secret is we really made this movie for us and thats how we make sure that hopefully people like you and others enjoy it. We make it to make us laugh and to move us with a mindful eye towards, Lets not exclude the fact that kids are going to come see this, too. Lets keep it appropriate.
Producer Bonnie Arnold added. We definitely know the core audience. Between [director Tim Johnsons] children and Kareys children and my children we have the age 3 12 covered.
Not Playing Down to Kids: Its easier to keep an eye on them but not to aim there because when you aim there, you inevitably aim down, said Kirkpatrick. Kids are much smarter than that. Thomas is doing Spider-Man 3 and that movies actually marketed to 12 to 15 year-olds.
Haden Church agreed with Kirkpatrick's description of Spider-Man 3's target audience. Oh yeah, and even younger, but I would say the main audience the mean audience age is probably 12. I mean Sam, not to go off tangentially, but Sam Raimis whole philosophy behind directing is to constantly, constantly be feeding information. Spider-Man appeals to a fairly broad demographic but like I said, a mean age of probably 12 is a good mark. They process information so quickly and its not because of attention deficit or short attention span. Its just processing information and that theyre very hungry for information, very hungry.
The Special Challenges of Voice Work: Haden Church said, Its a very specific challenge because it is an ensemble movie but youre not working with an ensemble.
The filmmakers interact with hundreds of people over the course of production, however for a voice actor it's a totally different experience. Haden Church said he worked with just a handful of people. In animation its really just Tim and Bonnie and Karey. Thats really it. Its a logistical challenge not just from a scheduling standpoint but from really a geographical standpoint. I live in Texas, I certainly commute back and forth to Los Angeles to work but time is precious on their side, on my side when Im in LA. I get good performance cues from Tim and from Karey and it works. I mean, it just does. I watched the movie and its believable interaction to me. Thats just the process.
It would seem that providing the voice of an animated character would require a leap of faith, but Haden Church says its not that big of a jump. Not really. Tim and Karey are performers and funny writers and directors. Its a leap of faith but its a pretty short leap because I trusted them right away to have good instincts when it comes to whats funny. Thats really what its about. The movie for me, its got an action dynamic to it but its a comedy. Thats, to me, at the forefront that its entertaining and funny. Funnertaining.
Haden Church continued. I remember a couple of the sessions that we had in Santa Monica, we would break for lunch and go up on the roof and have lunch and that really, to me, that was almost as important as any other part of the process, just sitting around and having conversations and getting to know Karey and Tim and Bonnie better. Just getting to know what their sensibilities were. Then all of that goes into my head and I factor it. What would appeal to them in this character in the moment? All that information goes in and I try to use it in my performance.