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Cartoon Saloon Gives A Peek At “Song Of The Sea”

Cartoon Saloon Gives A Peek At "Song Of The Sea"

The Kilkenny, Ireland-based Cartoon Saloon animation studio gave a presentation on Tuesday night at Woodbury University in Burbank, California. This was the same presentation that Cartoon Saloon gave at the 2014
Comic-Con International in San Diego the previous week, repeated for
ASIFA-Hollywood members before Cartoon Saloon went back to Ireland.

The presentation was on Cartoon
Saloon’s second theatrical animated feature, Song of the Sea, due to be finished and released in America later
this year by GKIDS.  The presenters were
Tomm Moore, Cartoon Saloon’s co-founder and the director of the two features,
and Paul Young, another studio co-founder, the producer of the two features and
one of the character voices in The Secret
of Kells
.  They also sold and signed
the just-published “making of” coffee-table art book of Cartoon Saloon’s first
theatrical feature, the March 2009 The
Secret of Kells
.  The July 2014 book
is Designing The Secret of Kells, written
by Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart, the Kells
art director.

Cartoon Saloon’s synopsis of the in-progress
Song of the Sea is:  “Song of the Sea tells
the story of Ben and his little sister Saoirse — the last Seal-child — who
embark on a fantastic journey across a fading world of ancient legend and magic
in an attempt to return to their home by the sea. The film takes inspiration
from the mythological Selkies of Irish folklore, who live as seals in the sea
but become humans on land. Song of the Sea features
the voices of Brendan Gleeson, Fionnula Flanagan, David Rawle, Lisa Hannigan,
Pat Shortt, Jon Kenny, Lucy O’Connell, Liam Hourican and Kevin Swierszsz. Music
is by composer Bruno Coulais and Irish band Kíla, both of whom previously
collaborated on The Secret of Kells.

and early 20th century collections of international folk tales
contain many of the original tales of Selkies – roughly Celtic equivalents of
mermaid legends, about women who dress in sealskins to become real seals.  Most are very depressing, about
poor fisherman on bleak and freezing Irish, Scottish, Cornish or Welsh seacoasts,
and the loss of their wives and their children’s mothers.  Since Song
of the Sea
is designed to be family-friendly, it has a more upbeat plot,
making Saoirse, the little girl, the Selkie who turns into a seal when she dons
her mother’s sealskin, and showing the marvels of the sea through her eyes;
while Ben, her slightly older brother, tries to save her for humanity rather
than losing her to the seal-folk.  Song of the Sea has basically the same
“Celtic” art design seen in The Secret of

The presentation only
touched on Moore’s and Young’s Cartoon Saloon animation studio.  According to online sources, Cartoon Saloon was
founded in 1999 by Moore, Young, Stewart, and several young friends in Dublin’s
Ballyfermot Senior College’s animation course. 
Moore (born in 1977) had been inspired in his adolescence in Kilkenny by
American super-hero comic books and the animation studio that Don Bluth had set
up in Dublin.  But by the time he was old
enough to apply for professional work, Bluth had moved back to the U.S.  Moore entered Ballyfermot’s animation course
(originally set up by Bluth to train animators for his studio), where he met the
other students who became inspired to create Cartoon Saloon and become its
first staff.  Their major influences were
Richard Williams’ unfinished The Thief
and the Cobbler
, Disney’s Mulan
with its Chinese motifs, and the films of Hayao Miyazaki; but they wanted to do
something with Celtic design.  Moore
returned to Kilkenny, where he was already familiar with the city’s live-action
Young Irish Film Makers group, and established the first Cartoon Saloon studio
with their help.  Later the Irish Film
Board helped the studio to move to its present larger premises.

Cartoon Saloon today, according to Wikipedia, “provides
animation, illustration and design services for clients ranging from the BBC to
Walker books and advertising agencies.”  The Secret of Kells, its first
theatrical feature, won or was nominated for numerous international awards
including the 2009 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.  Its other works include the 2007-2008 Flash
animation TV series Skunk Fu! (26
episodes; shown in 29 countries; reportedly a feature film is in production), other
TV series in production, fine-art short films, TV commercials, and currently an
exhibit at Trinity College, Dublin, on the 1,000th anniversary of
the death of High King Brian Boru at the Battle of Clontarf.

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