It’s a popular app that has made millions and on May 20, directors Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly hope ‘The Angry Birds Movie’ will have the same effect at the box office as it has on mobile phones. I recently had the pleasure of speaking to Kaytis and Reilly about what drew them to the project, what it was like working on the first app to big screen film and what makes them angry.
ScienceFiction.com (SF.com): So how did you both become involved with the ‘The Angry Birds Movie’?
Fergal Reilly (FR): One of our producers, David Mazel, saw his Mom, who was in her 70s, play ‘Angry Birds’ one day and was like “what is so fascinating about this game? Why are young people through to elderly people so fascinated by it?” He did a little bit of research on it, and he contacted Rovio, and proposed the idea if they would be interested in bringing their property to Hollywood and developing it as an animated feature. Then John Cohen, who was the producer on ‘Despicable Me,’ talked to us and said, “Why don’t you guys come in and take a look at The Angry Birds. John showed us the script written by Jon Vitti, and this thing immediately set you off on a tone and gave us an indication that the movie was going to be super funny and that it was going to change all expectations for what anybody thought an adaptation from an app to a movie would be.
Clay Kaytis (CK): On our first meeting, we started talking about all the possibilities of what we could do. So, the first thing was Jon Vitti’s script. It was a fantastic start and a great springboard. It immediately set the tone for the comedy. In some ways, it was very freeing to have just a very basic premise. Rovio was amazing in that they let us have full reign on the film.
SF: Did you play the app before coming onto the project?
CK: (laughing) I played the game a lot back when I was making ‘Tangled.’ I remember that was my decompression at night. I was really a fanatic about it. It was bad. My wife was like, “You have a problem.” I played every level… got three stars at every level…
SF: Did the developers of the game had any input on the making of the movie?
CK: Mikael Hed, who is one of the founding members of Rovio – the people who made the game, was one of the producers on the movie and was very much involved. He gave us the freedom to build these characters and make them real and funny and take them to a whole new level.
FR: It’s always really tricky to combine comedy and action, but we knew with the characters that we’d built up to this point that we were doing the audience a disservice if we didn’t try and push it to a new level and twist it in a new direction.
SF: One of the things you both set out to do was to explain why these birds were angry. In the beginning, it was just Red who the Angry Bird then you went off to all the things that irritated him. Did some of those irritants come from personal biases? Are some of the things that irritated Red irritate you guys?
FR: We had a whole story session where we would sit everyone and ask “What makes you angry?” It was great fun to go around the room and hear from people about the little things that make them mad as they go through their day.
CK: We actually had a board on the wall listed all sorts of things like telemarketers, lines at Starbucks, cell phones in movie theaters, leaf blowers at 6:00am on a Saturday morning…
SF: So which one of you don’t like mimes?
FR: I grew up in Europe and there are so many mimes there! Who doesn’t get irritated by mimes?
SF: If you could choose, which Angry Bird would you say represent you the most?
CK: If I had to choose, I would say Bomb. He’s just so honest and funny. I laugh at him the most. I think I’m like him in many ways — except for the exploding part.
FR: (laughing) Wait, you haven’t seen him [Clay] angry!
SF: Okay, I have to ask you, Fergal, ‘Space Jam 2’ is in the works. Since you were involved in the original film, will we be seeing you on this one?
FR: I don’t know. Justin Lin has his own team he’s working with and I haven’t heard from him about working on the film.
SF: Okay, we’ll just have to have everyone tweet him to get you on board!
‘The Angry Birds Movie’ slingshots into theaters this Friday, May 20.