Fergal Reilly knows how absurd it is that an “Angry Birds” movie exists.
“It’s almost a joke when you hear it pitched as the logline,” the animator says.
And yet it wasn’t such a joke that he didn’t turn down the chance to make it his directorial debut. Reilly — who’s worked for years, mainly as a storyboard artist, on the likes of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” and “Hotel Transylvania” — helmed the app game-turned-film with Clay Kaytis, a Disney vet also graduating to top boss. (It’s standard, they say, for animated films to have two directors, given how much there needs to be approved.)
The two did and didn’t have their work cut out for them. The simple set-up — flightless birds being slingshotted into evil green pigs — had to become an origin story, but that was taken care of by the script by “Simpsons” writer Jon Vitti. And the birds’ various designs were right there in the game.
What they had to add was animation that reflected each character’s personality, and create a whole new world whose every inch is filled with sight gags and funny bits of business.
“I’m always pleased when people say it has a ‘Looney Tunes’ feel. It’s like, ‘Okay, I did my job,’” Kaytis, whose credits include “Tangled” and “Frozen,” tells us. One perk of animation over live-action is you can always add stuff when you think of it. “We were always looking at the background and the sides for jokes — a sign on the wall, anything that can make it visually funnier.
“For me, the fun of animation is in design. Making animation that feels like real life is kind of a waste of energy.”
Vitti’s script provided a solid foundation. “Sometimes when you read animated scripts the characters start to blend into each other,” Reilly explains. Vitti’s script was different. “He always had a unique take on each character. He had a voice in his head and he was able to write that voice. That helped us when we were casting it and when were trying out bits of business in the storyboarding stage.”