nWave Pictures and STUDIOCANAL present
THE HOUSE
OF MAGIC
A film by Ben Stassen and Jérémie Degruson
For further information please contact
[email protected]
Tel: 020 7534 2700
In Cinemas: 25th July 2014
Certificate U / Running Time 85mins
Available in 3D and 2D
SYNOPSIS
Seeking shelter from a storm, abandoned young cat Thunder sneaks into a mysterious
mansion owned by retired magician Lawrence, aka “The Illustrious Lorenzo”.
Lawrence shares his fairy-tale world with many animals and a dazzling array of
automatons and gizmos capable of whipping up breakfast while rolling out a spectacular
song-and-dance routine.
He soon makes Thunder feel welcome, but Jack the rabbit and Maggie the mouse start
plotting to get him kicked out. When Lawrence ends up in the hospital, his nephew tries
to trick him into selling the house. But its ragtag inhabitants develop a spooky strategy
to defend their home. They turn their house into a haunted mansion, using Thunder as
their secret weapon...
PRODUCTION NOTES
HOW IT CAME ABOUT
THE HOUSE OF MAGIC is based on an attraction film made around a decade ago. An
attraction film is a 4D film lasting 10-15 minutes (a 3D film with physical effects in the
theater). It was a 12-minute film called HAUNTED HOUSE.
After SAMMY’S ADVENTURES and SAMMY 2, we were looking for ideas for a featurelength movie and we thought this would be a good one to turn into such a film. Of
course, it was a short and we had to turn it into a real story. In fact, the first 10 minutes
at the start of our film recall certain shots and decors from that attraction made a
decade ago.
In the beginning, the English title was THE ENCHAUNTED HOUSE (enchanted/ haunted),
but the word “magic” fits better with the film because the house belongs to a magician
and because the characters use magic. So we preferred to call it THE HOUSE OF MAGIC.
And it’s not a scary film at all. Even the scene where the potential buyer for the house
ends is scared and leaves the house screaming “the house is haunted!” is completely fun
because the audience knows the whole thing has been orchestrated by the characters
who live in the house.
BEN STASSEN (Producer and director)
ANIMATING THE CHARACTERS
There are 50 characters in THE HOUSE OF MAGIC and each one is drawn. Beforehand,
there was a lot of research. We tried out different designs and a range of approaches.
For Thunder, we needed a young cat, somewhere between a kitten and an adult cat, so
in terms of proportions, we did different tests to get the effect we wanted.
We also did sketches of characters, the annoying characters that we enjoyed mistreating.
And for Lawrence, we looked for actors that might look like him. Initially, I was looking at
Pierre Richard – I thought he was the archetypal old man with crazy gray hair. If it had
been a live-action movie, Pierre Richard could have played the role.
There are four stages to creating a sequence.
Firstly, the storyboard, which is the whole film in drawings. Many sequences are
discarded, and it helps us slim down the film as much as possible without it being too
expensive. We do a 2D animatic that gives us a first feeling for the film.
Then it’s time for the layout, which is when the project goes from 2D to 3D. We position
the cameras and the characters in the space and start to really quantify how the different
sequences will be broken down into shots.
After the layout is done, the film really starts to come alive.
During the animation phase, all the shots are animated and that’s when the characters
become real. The emotion appears along with their facial expressions and the special
effects. We also add the character effects, such as the movement of their clothes and
hair. Then it’s over to the lighting department who handle the photographic direction.
The final stage is compositing, when we create the ambiance and refine the colors until
we have the final image.
We’re very proud of the result. A year ago, I was less happy but now, I’m feeling much
better!
JÉRÉMIE DEGRUSON (Co-director)
THE MUSIC
For the music, I was lucky enough to meet up again with composer Ramin Djawadi with
whom I worked on my first film, FLY ME TO THE MOON. Since then, he’s been working
on major projects such as the series PRISON BREAK and GAME OF THRONES, or films
like SAFE HOUSE with Denzel Washington, HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA, and PACIFIC RIM, but
he’s very faithful and has worked on all our films.
Ramin Djawadi has a great talent for creating themes, and themes are always useful in
an animation film because you have to create everything – there are no actors who come
along and project their personality and take the film in hand. You start with a blank
screen, there is no light, no sound and no music – you have to do it all. So having
someone like him who knows how to create themes for characters or moods is
important.
Whether dealing with commercial songs to which we bought the rights or orchestral
compositions, you can either chose the music before you start the animation or when
the film is finished. For example, we do it beforehand if we want to animate the
sequence to the musical beat. As in the sequence with the ballet, when the cat comes
into the house, welcomed by the magician who wants to have a party and starts up the
phonogram. At that point, we hear a song and they dance for three minutes. For that
scene, the music had to be composed and recorded, or else purchased, before we
started.
So when you start working on the soundtrack, you know there are certain places where
you need a song, and then all the rest is written according to the visuals. For two months,
in his studio, Ramin Djawadi watched the film on a loop. To do a scene, he watched it, he
wrote some music and then either it worked or it didn’t. The music has to be
synchronized with the finished image.
BEN STASSEN
BIOGRAPHY – THE WORLD OF BEN STASSEN
Born in Belgium
1985 Graduated from USC School of Cinema and Television (California)
Worked for two years in US TV
1990 Discovered computer-aided animation and produced MY UNCLE’S LEGACY,
nominated for Best Foreign Film at the Golden Globes
1991 Started working as a producer and director of “large format” films (mainly IMAX)
for theme parks and museums
1994 Co-founded production and distribution company nWave Pictures
1998 Directed first film in IMAX 3D, ENCOUNTER IN THE THIRD DIMENSION
Became an expert in screening IMAX films and movies using other specialist
cinematographic techniques (Showscan, Iwerks, VistaVision)
2007 Directed his first feature FLY ME TO THE MOON, the first animated feature
completely produced in 3D relief
2009 Nominated for the Audience Award at the European Film Awards
World leader in multiplatform digital cinema.
Lives and works between Belgium and the US
FILMOGRAPHY
Feature films (by production year)
2011 SAMMY 2 (director – producer)
2009 SAMMY’S ADVENTURES (director – producer)
2007 FLY ME TO THE MOON (director – executive coproducer)
IMAX films (by production year)
2006 AFRICAN ADVENTURE: SAFARI IN THE OKAVANGO
(writer – director – producer)
2004 WILD SAFARI 3D (writer – director – producer)
2002 MISADVENTURES IN 3D (co-writer – director – executive producer)
2001 SOS PLANET (writer – director – executive producer)
2000 HAUNTED CASTLE (writer – director – executive producer)
1998 ALIEN ADVENTURE
(writer – director – executive producer – director of photography)
ENCOUNTER IN THE THIRD DIMENSION
(co-writer – director – executive producer)
1996 THRILL RIDE: THE SCIENCE OF FUN
(writer – director – executive producer – director of photography)
Short films
From 1990-2009: DEVIL’S MINE RIDE, COSMIC PINBALL, ASTRO CANYON COASTER,
VOLCANO MINE RIDE, SUPERSTITION, SECRETS OF THE LOST TEMPLE, RGB
ADVENTURES, KID COASTER, OCEAN JUNGLE, GRAND PRIX RACEWAY, VOYAGE
THROUGH THE CENTER OF THE EARTH, MUSEUM OF VIRTUAL HISTORY, AQUARIDE,
HAUNTED MINE RIDE, COSMIC COASTER, PANDA VISION, HAUNTED HOUSE.
THE INHABITANTS OF THE HOUSE
Thunder
Thunder is such a funny little cat. Abandoned by his family one stormy night, it didn't
take him long to push open the gates of The House of Magic to find shelter. Despite the
objections of a grumpy rabbit and a moany mouse, our hero was soon adopted by the
house's owner. And once he's met all the fun animals and animated objects that live in
the house, Thunder becomes as brave as a lion. He ends up facing all kinds of dangers to
protect his new family and shares his hair-raising adventures with us.
Lawrence
A swish of the magic wand and voila - here's Lawrence. But from which planet does this
strange magician with his kind smile hail? Do you think he's old? Just imagine! He reigns
with the energy and imagination of a 10-year-old child over a cheery gaggle of animals
and animated objects that live in the house. And in the crazy world of this joyful
illusionist, there is always room for a newcomer. Especially if that newcomer is a little cat
who isn't afraid to flex his claws to defend his new pal.
Maggie
Little Maggie has always got something to say. She never holds back from complaining,
being mean about others or sparking an argument. Maggie the mouse is Jack the
rabbit's best friend and together, they make a magical team.
She is tiny, testy, and even a little timid. But she doesn't make a meal of it. She comes to
realize that Thunder is a brave little cat, ready to rise to any challenge to defend the
gang of animals and funny objects that live in The House of Magic.
Jack
In The House of Magic, Jack's the one who sets the rules. Old Jack's seen everything in
the time he's lived here and some little cat from nowhere isn't going to bother him. Jack
is the head of the fun-loving gang of animals and talking objects that live in the house
and he's going to have to get used to the fact that Thunder is now part of the family,
and he's a great cat to boot.
Carla & Carlo
Carlo and Carla love to bill and coo. Carlo is proud and brave and Carla is sweet and
devoted, and they love each other like they only met yesterday. What more could they
ask for? That they might be left in peace with the happy gang of animals and fantasy
objects that live in the house, for example.
Edison
Edison is a ray of sunshine. He's a warm and friendly guy like no-one else. And once he's
your friend, he's your friend for life. You can count on his light to shine on the darkness
and to chase out any unwelcome visitors.
Kiki
Stop barking, Kiki! This little Chihuahua barks so loud because he's afraid. Since he's
come to believe the house is haunted, he's even more suspicious of all the animals and
objects that live there. Apart from Thunder the cat maybe, for whom he would even be
prepared to step outside.
AND ALSO...
Clara
Clara is a real twinkletoes. Look how gracious she is, how precise, how delicate. But don't
hassle her friends because if you do, Clara can be a real little dragon.
Stomp
Who wants to hang out with Stomp? Do you like bright colors? Love chewing gum? Then
one thing is for certain - you're going to love Stomp.
Gunther
Let's hear it for Gunther, who has the most wonderful moustache in the house. Round
like a cheese and as gentle as a lamb, Gunther is a pure product of the Tyrol mountains.
Chef
Chef is such an amazing cook. He certainly knows a thing or two about cooking. A
champion of all kinds of pancakes, he's the magician of the ovens in The House of Magic.
Bubble Tom
Did you eat some soap, Bubble Tom? His feet are suckers, bubbles come from his mouth,
and when he's mad, he starts to smoke. Bubble Tom is definitely not like the others.
Daniel
Watch out for the ambitious Daniel. He's too well turned out to be honest if you want
my opinion. Daniel would like to get hold of his uncle's house and sell it to the highest
bidder. But the happy bunch of animals and magic objects that live there have a
different idea. Especially little Thunder, who will do anything to stop the insolent Daniel
in his tracks.
Meg
When Meg is around, it's like being at the movies. Sit down, get out your popcorn and
open your eyes. Meg will screen one of her best films and at The House of Magic,
everyone loves it.
The Gizmos
The Gizmos are such a funny bunch. They run, they dance and they even make music.
But above all, they love Lawrence, the old magician who made them. And they'll do
anything to protect him.
Sphery
Sphery is full of energy. Wait till you see him jumping on his six legs and lighting up with
all the colors of the rainbow. You won’t believe what he can do. And as Lawrence the
magician says, "When Sphery is there, the world looks beautiful, even when it's raining!"
Twiggy, Twigga, Twiggoo
Life is great for Twiggy, Twigga and Twiggoo. You need something? Just ask them and
they'll come rushing to your aid. And in the kitchen, they make great little apprentices
who are appreciated by everyone in the house.
Trunk
Trunk is courage personified. Six legs, two love handles and a trunk big enough to do as
much magic as you like. And if you've never seen a trunk ride a bike, that's because
you've never been to The House of Magic before.
Tyson
Tyson is as strong as an ox. Breathe in and breathe out - you won't make any mistakes
when Tyson's around because everything he does, he does it right. And when Tyson
does the cleaning, it means upheaval on every floor.
Ding, Dang, Dong
It all rings true for Ding, Dang and Dong! But they never drop a clanger. When they need
to, they certainly make themselves heard. And watch out if you behave badly with their
friends.
Brika
Brika is a beating drum. This little bespectacled monkey is the work of Lawrence the
magician. He's a musical robot like no other, and in the chaos of the House of Magic, it's
Brika who sets the tone.
Grammy
Tonight, Grammy is spinning the beats. This old Gramophone is no spring chicken but
when he spins his discs, everybody starts to dance. There's nobody like him for getting
the happy gang of animals and crazy objects that live in the house on their feet.
Sprinkly
There's no one quite like Sprinkly for giving you a good watering. All the plants in the
house can thank the old magician for making this obliging little robot. And it's thanks to
Sprinkly and his tomfoolery that the whole house has fun until their thirst is quenched.
Handy
Handy is always there to offer a helping hand. He knows The House of Magic like the
back of his hand and life here, with this happy bunch of animals and funny objects, fits
him like a glove.
Freak
Drriiing! Hello? Freak here. In The House of Magic, there's no need to chase after the
phone because the phone comes to you. This is a truly mobile phone that is both
efficient and kind. And if you're looking for a good dose of adventure, you've got the
right number.
Cronien
Nobody knows how to dance better than Cronien. No other camera, even a digital one,
can tap-dance quite like he can. So don't be surprised if you're fully focused on him like
we are.
Directors
Ben Stassen
Jérémie Degruson
Original idea
Screenplay
Produced by
Ben Stassen
James Flynn
Domonic Paris
Ben Stassen
Ben Stassen
Caroline Van Iseghem
Executive producers
Olivier Courson
Eric Dillens
Music
Ramin Djawadi
Vocal direction
Domonic Paris
Gina Gallo
Mimi Maynard
Cast
Murray Blue (THUNDER, DYLAN)
Cinda Adams (NURESE BAXTER)
George Babbit (CARLO, JACK, ZOLTAR)
Kathleen Browers (CARLA)
Joey Camen (CHIHUAHUA)
Grant George (DANIEL)
Shanelle Gray (MAGGIE)
Nina Grillo (AUDREY)
Kyle Herbert (MARK MATTHEWS)
Goldie Jonsie (OLD LADY)
Kendra Leif (LASONDRA)
Joey Lotsko (MR. EAMES)
Millie Mup (MRS. EAMES)
Will Parks (MIKE MATTHEWS)
Sage Summer (IZZY)
Michael Sorich (CRANE OPERATOR)
Doug Stone (LAWRENCE)
Joseph W Terry (REGGIE WILLIS)
Focus on the French release
The film will be released in French theaters on 25 December 2013, but children can
already find out about The House of Magic and its funny inhabitants by going to the
official website at www.lemanoirmagique.fr
Plenty of interactive games await to introduce them to the different locations and
characters. There are extracts from the film including some unseen, excusive footage,
and they can even download coloring-in pictures and masks to cut out. The site was
created by STUDIOCANAL’s Digital Marketing team and developed by the 909c agency.
You can also become a fan of the film on Facebook by visiting:
https://www.facebook.com/LeManoirMagique
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the house of magic - Optimum Releasing: Press Pages