Renowned Head of Character Animation on How to Train Your Dragon Film Series to Direct Feature Based on Christmas Children’s Book Series by Writer/Director Richard Curtis
“Simon Otto is one of the pre-eminent artists working in the feature film animation arena today,” said Locksmith Co-Founder Julie Lockhart. “His superb taste and his ability to endow animated characters and stories with heart, humor and pathos is in a class by itself. We are overjoyed that he will be making his feature directing debut on this Locksmith project.”
In addition to overseeing the animation on the How to Train Your Dragon films, Otto was instrumental in designing and developing the look of the characters, their personalities, and the overall style of the animation as well as working in the story department. He joined DreamWorks in 1997 to work on the acclaimed epic adventure The Prince of Egypt and worked as supervising animator both in hand-drawn and CG animation on many of the studio’s features including Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, Over the Hedge and the Aardman co-production Flushed Away.
Born and raised in Switzerland, Otto studied at the prestigious Les Gobelins Animation School in Paris, France. He won a Visual Effects Society (VES) award for Outstanding Animation in a Feature Film for the first How To Train Your Dragon in 2010 and was nominated again in 2015 for How to Train Your Dragon 2. While at DreamWorks, he directed multiple episodes of various Netflix animated series including Dragon – Race to the Edge and Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia. After 21 years at DreamWorks Animation, Otto left the studio to pursue a variety of projects in shorts, series and features. Most recently, he directed “The Tall Grass” episode of Love, Death & Robots, Volume 2 for Netflix.
“I couldn’t be happier that Simon has opted to join the feature film directorial ranks with our film,” says Curtis. “He is such a superbly gifted visual storyteller and I can’t wait to see how he translates our characters and cluster of Christmas stories to the screen.”
Elisabeth Murdoch, Sarah Smith, Julie Lockhart and Bonnie Arnold are executive producers. Curtis is writing the screenplay with Peter Souter. Curtis will also EP, along with Colin Hopkins and the book’s illustrator Rebecca Cobb.
As Locksmith Animation gears up for the October release of its first feature film Ron’s Gone Wrong, the studio has announced that Natalie Fischer has been named CEO of the company. Fischer is a former COO of Illumination Entertainment and has been a senior adviser there for the past four years.
Co-Founder and Ron’s Gone Wrong producer Julie Lockhart has been named President of Production at Locksmith and will continue to lead all aspects of production and development as well as partnering with Fischer at a strategic level.
Fischer joined Illumination as Head of Business Development in 2009. Her contributions to the massive growth of Illumination date back to the inception of the studio, when she worked closely with founder Chris Meledandri on the studio’s original Business Plan in 2007 and was integrally involved in its launch and rollout. Previously, she was SVP, Business Development and Strategy at Universal from 2004 to 2009 and a Business Strategist at Channel 4 Television in the UK prior to that.
She holds an MBA from Harvard and a BA from the University of Pennsylvania.
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