The Art and Making of Luck–Go behind the scenes of the year’s best family film

Review by C.J. Bunce

Yesterday I reviewed a film here at borg that evoked the best of the Disney animated classics.  Luck is Skydance Animation’s very first production, and it’s a CGI animated marvel from the same team that created movies like Toy Story, Cars, The Incredibles 2, and Frozen.  This week the film gets a coffee table book that delves into the creation of the movie, The Art and Making of Luck, by Noela Hueso.  What you might not know about the movie is that, according to Skydance Head of Animation John Lasseter and his crew, the movie was made during the COVID-19 pandemic over Zoom.  The very idea a group of people can work on a film with the crew across the world, from Skydance Animation Madrid to the L.A. studio, while most of the crew was on their home computers is something pretty amazing.  It’s even more amazing that the result is such a visual and storytelling win.  Take a look below at several pages inside The Art and Making of Luck, available now here at Amazon.

Although the film’s visuals stand by themselves as testament to the latest in animation, the movie wasn’t going for 3D realism.  In detailed sketches, concept art designs, storyboards, production art, and rendered 3D models, fans of the movie will learn from the artists, crew, and director how an original story began, stopped, and was re-imagined into what audiences saw on the big or small screen.  The story began as a battle between lucky and unlucky people in a city very much like Boston.  It featured a young woman, but getting into her final form took months of planning and re-writes.  The first story didn’t even include Bob the cat, who would be the co-star of the final cut.

Much of the delays related to studios re-aligning, but COVID factored into the picture as well.  The book begins with an overview of the plot, then a survey of the human characters: Sam, her young friend Hazel, house mom Ms. Rivera, and her boss Marv.  Next are the versions the city went through, the Summerland Home for Girls, Sam’s Apartment, the flower shop, and the Italian bistro.  The book then shifts to the fantasy world of the story: the inhabitants of the Land of Luck.  That’s Bob, the Dragon, Jeff the unicorn, Gerry, the Captain and the other leprechauns, the rabbits, the pigs, goblins, line cats, goats, and Rootie and the Roots.

The most dazzling work beyond the humanizing of each character is the Tomorrowland meets Land of Oz cityscapes and interwoven web of corridors in the Land of Luck, Land of Bad Luck, and the In-Between.  The color palettes are striking, and the Italian Riviera or Amalfi Coast look is reminiscent of George Lucas’s first images in his prequel imagery for Naboo.  Original designs for the decontamination room are even more vibrant and photo-real than the final version.  Readers will also see full images of the Penny Depot that don’t make it into the movie.

One chapter is a sampling of graphic design from the film, including signage and book covers, and the final chapter studies the opening chase scene between Sam and Bob the cat.  You can’t help but see comparisons in style and execution between Lasseter’s The Incredibles 2 and the familiarity of elements in the real world like moviegoers saw in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse.

The most fun tidbit from the book is the development of the look for Jeff the unicorn, who began as a buff, young fellow.  It didn’t take long for Lasseter & Co. to see the humor of showing Jeff much later in his life.

Screenwriter Kiel Murray covers all the big differences between early and later drafts.  Readers will hear from director Peggy Holmes, studio president Holly Edwards, producer David Eisenmann, co-head of story Lawrence Gong, SVP of production Esdras Varagnolo, FX supervisor Carlos Lemus, VFX supervisor Francisco Rodriguez, lighting director of photography Eduardo Lopez, animation supervisors Yuriko Senoo and Arnao Olle Lopez, and concept art from Eduardo Gilsanz, Louie del Carmen, Ravi Kundi, Julie Chon, Christine Kim, Fred Warter, Cristina Hernandez, Dominique Louis, Ziyan Tan, Tommy Kim, and many others.

That impact of an incredibly rich, international crew comes through in the film, which incorporates its characters and concepts from symbols for luck from myriad cultures and places.

If you loved the fun of Monsters, Inc. the fantasy of The Wizard of Oz, and the good feeling vibe of the non-traditional family of Shazam!, you’ll love LuckIt’s one of the best films of the year.  Don’t miss it.  It’s streaming now on Apple TV+.  For fans of the movie and anyone who loves the next new realization of modern animation you’re in luck, The Art and Making of Luck is available now here at Amazon.



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