For nearly two decades, Don Bluth and Gary Goldman were the leading lights in the animated film world, creating countless classics. To name but a few, we’re talking The Secret of NIMH, An American Tail, The Land Before Time, Thumbelina and Anastasia. That’s an incredible track record. Charming and earnest to a t, their portfolio is a sonnet to your childhood – but since then, the times have changed.
CGI animation has been the way forward for a long time in this field. With the demise of Studio Ghibli becoming heartbreakingly real this year, hand-drawn films appear to be part of a bygone era. Yet there stands a bold knight to fight their corner, and it looks set to tickle the nostalgia buttons in you good and strong. Hello? Is that my childhood calling? Yes, yes it is. Welcome to Dragon’s Lair: The Movie.
For younger readers, it’s likely you have no clue what Dragon’s Lair is, but according to Bluth and Goldman this arcade game is their most recognised work. The game’s plot sees the dashing Dirk the Daring attempt to rescue Princess Daphne from the evil dragon Singe. As for why it became so popular back in 1983, that’s down to how the duo pushed the boundaries of video game design. There were severe limitations to what could be done – storage, technology and frame rate all provided intense restrictions. But the team overcame those limitations, delivering beautiful hand-drawn imagery far ahead of its time. Immediately striking up a global fanbase for its quality and charm, the franchise grew and grew. With apps now finding a home in thousands of phones worldwide, Bluth and Goldman kept receiving requests to take that next step.
Having dodged a faulty financier, and deals that would see them relinquishing ownership, they’ve turned up at Kickstarter‘s door. The Kickstarter makes the valid point surrounding the cost of modern-day animations. Costing anywhere north of $50 million for major productions, the Dragon’s Lair team faced a mammoth task to realise their dream. They admit that they could have approached major film studios, private investors, or investment banks for loans, but the pitfalls both creatively and financially were too great, as the team feared they could “cancel the production altogether.” Now, with new alternatives emerging, one of them being Kickstarter, Dragon’s Lair: The Movie can begin to be realised.
So what’s the plan? If the funding is raised, the next five months will see a crack team of writers and artists create the pitch. At this point, it’s worth clarifying that this Kickstarter will not fund the film itself. The hope is to create a financed movement that inspires the studios with bigger bank balances to get on board. The quote of $70 million is not easily sourced via crowdfunding. So post-Kickstarter, the creation of a top-notch presentation begins in the hope of hooking the biggest studios in Hollywood.
Although this may feel odd to some – funding a presentation, rather than a movie – it proves the team are not doing anything by halves. You can see the clear passion to deliver another stunning animation in the Kickstarter pitch, and the video below.
Better still, the perks of backing this one are by far some of the best seen in any Making It Bigs. Not to linger over potential gains, but there is some damn cool stuff on show here. The one-hour, online, one-on-one animation lessons on the principles of animation with Don Bluth himself is quite neat. If you happen to have a spare $400, we’d plump for this one.
The form of animation is going from strength to strength – there’s no doubting that – and with the demise of Studio Ghibli, there’s a hole in the market that could be filled by these masters. There’s something irresistibly charming about hand-drawn animation, and it would be a shame to lose this art form from our screens. Considering the strong fanbase, and the calibre of talent, this looks set to be a winning horse to back. If the world gets one more film out of all this matching their greats – Anastasia, All Dogs Go To Heaven and The Land Before Time – we’re in.