Andy Serkis To Make His Directorial Debut With Performance Capture Adaptation Of Animal Farm

Andy Serkis in 13 Going on 30.
(Image credit: Sony Pictures Releasing)

This has been a huge year for Andy Serkis despite the fact that he hasn't been in a single movie so far in 2012. It's a big year because not only will he be reprising his role as Gollum in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, he also served as the second unit director on the film. It was the first time that Serkis had the chance to go behind the camera in the film world, and apparently he caught the director bug because now he's ready to helm his own release.

THR has learned that Serkis is now planning a performance capture adaptation of George Orwell's Animal Farm. The choice of medium should come as no surprise to fans of the actor, who has done performance capture work in movies including The Lord of the Rings trilogy, King Kong, The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, and Rise of hte Planet of the Apes. The Imaginarium, which is a studio that Serkis and producer Jonathan Cavendish) created in 2011, will be producing the movie and according to the trade the planning stage is already well under way.

"We are in proof-of-concept stage at the moment, designing characters and experimenting on our stage with the designs,”Serkis told THR. "It is quite a wide canvas as to how much and how far we can take performance capture with quadrupeds and how much we will be using facial [capture]. We are not discounting the use of keyframe animation or puppeteering parts of animals. We are in an experimental phase; it’s terribly exciting."

As for tone, the performer cum filmmaker said they will be targeting family audiences with the adaptation and will be less "heay-handed" with the political allegory (for those who haven't read the novel, the book was written as a comment on the Russian Revolution and the rise of Communism in what would wind up being the USSR). Serkis is also considering starring in the film as well, but for now is more focused on the creation of the movie's world and will make that decision at a later date.

But the filmmaker is also bringing another interesting piece to the equation: a higher frame rate. Just like he did while in production on The Hobbit, Serkis is planning on making Animal Farm at 48 frames per second (fps) - this is twice the speed of standard film. But there's a very good reason. Said Serkis,

The wonderful thing about 48 fps is [how it handles] the integration of live action and CG elements; that is something I learned from The Hobbit. We are so used to 24 fps and the romance of celluloid … but at 48 fps, you cannot deny the existence of these CG creations in the same time frame and space and environment as the live action. It works incredible well.

And he isn't stopping there. Serkis is also currently planning an adaptation of the upcoming Samantha Shannon novel The Bone Season as well as new mystery project.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will be in theaters December 14th.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.