"Gollum" actor and budding filmmaker Andy Serkis has confirmed that he plans to shoot his $50 million mo-cap feature adaptation of George Orwell's "Animal Farm" in the second half of 2014.
Announced over a year ago by his Imaginarium performance capture studio, Serkis makes his directorial debut on the project. Orwell's classic tale follows a group of revolutionary animals on an English farm is a thinly veiled allegory about how the rise of Stalinism in the Soviet Union over the preceding two decades.
Appearing at the Cinematic Innovation Summit (CIS) in Dubai on Thursday, Serkis says: "We've started pre-vis which in the virtual world in many instances means you've already started shooting the film. Principal photography will take place in the middle to third quarter of next year."
German concept artist Michael Kutsche ("Thor," "Maleficent," "The Amazing Spider-Man 2") has been employed on the project to create a "heightened design aesthetic". Explaining that last line, Serkis says:
"What we're trying to do is fairly unique. It's going to be entirely performance captured, so rather than photographing real animals and showing them with talking mouths, it will all be generated by the interaction between the actors playing those roles…the physicality and facial expressions of all the animals will come directly from actors' performances.
The design for those has to work in a particular way and it's a particular heightened design look we're going for. We also have to find a balancing aesthetic for the environment in which we situate the characters. We're experimenting shooting with live action plates but with a heightened design…it's not just shooting in a field."
A cast won't be announced until financing is completed in 2014. A studio isn't expected to be involved until much further down the line.