Directors Eric Darnell and Simon J. Smith Talk PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR, Making the Penguins Main Characters, Their Scene Stealing Cricket and More

     October 14, 2014


Alex the lion, Marty the zebra, Melman the giraffe and Gloria the hippo are all great characters, but Skipper (Tom McGrath), Kowalski (Chris Miller), Rico (John DiMaggio) and Private (James Patrick Stuart) definitely stole some of their thunder in the Madagascar films.  In fact, the penguins are so popular, they’ve got their very own Nickelodeon TV show and, come November 26th, they’ll have their own feature film as well.  Penguins of Madagascar pits our heroes against someone from their past, Dave the octopus.  With the help of the undercover inter-species task force, The North Wind, the penguins must thwart Dave’s plan to take over the world.

Immediately after the film’s New York Comic-Con panel, I got the chance to sit down with directors Eric Darnell and Simon J. Smith to discuss making the decision to give the penguins their own movie, how the animated filmmaking process has changed since doing Madagascar back in the early 2000s, some jokes that didn’t make it into the final cut of the film, an unforgettable cricket cameo and more.  Hit the jump to check it all out.

the-penguins-of-madagascar-skipperEric Darnell and Simon J. Smith:

  • 00:00 – On the rise of the Madagascar film franchise and specifically, the penguins.
  • 01:18 – The appeal of the penguins.
  • 02:38 – Taking the penguins from fun, supporting players to main characters.
  • 03:27 – On the emotional component of the film.
  • 03:53 – Coming up with more and more penguin jokes.
  • 04:27 – The wordplay joke that got cut out of the film.
  • 05:09 – On the animation process; cutting the movie before you actually animate it.
  • 06:06 – What this pre-animated movie looks like.
  • 06:46 – How to make changes once the movie is animated.
  • 07:37 – How the animation process has changed since the first Madagascar film.
  • 08:48 – Moving from storyboards done on paper to using Cintiq.
  • 09:23 – The ups and downs of using the newer technology.
  • 10:24 – The cricket cameo.
  • 10:47 – What do they want to do next, more Penguins or Madagascar?



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