(London) Twenty-three years after the success of Chicken Run, its hilarious and endearing chickens return and this time face an even more “terrifying” threat, the poultry industry, warns its director – who has become a vegetarian.
Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget from Aardman Animation Studios – the British creators of Wallace and Gromit – premiered Saturday at the London Film Festival in ahead of its release on Netflix before Christmas.
The original released in 2000, a parody of escapist films that chronicles the attempts of a group of chickens to escape the clutches of a sadistic farmer, is to this day the stop-motion animated film that brought in the most money in history.
This meticulous technique consists of imperceptibly moving objects – in this case puppets – with each shot in order to create the illusion of movement.
“Stop-motion is a very artisanal technique, and a stop-motion animated film is something unique,” director Sam Fell told AFP.
The latter expects this second Chicken Run to be as popular as the first: “there will always be a place for “handmade”” in a society increasingly oriented towards digital.
For the film’s production designer Darren Dubicki, using real objects strengthens the connection with the viewer: “there’s a warmth, a charm that really adds something.”
Asked about the plot of this new feature film, Sam Fell speaks of a “huge and terrifying” threat to the chickens – even more “intimidating”, according to him, than the farmer in the first film.
In Dawn of the Nugget, the main characters from the first film, Ginger and Rocky, live safely in a bird sanctuary, but their daughter is impatient to see the outside world and finds herself trapped on an industrial farm.
Sam Fell and Aardman Studios spent six years thinking about the shape of this highly anticipated sequel.
“In the end, it was a simple sentence that made it click: ‘This time, they’re breaking in,’” recalls the director, who drew his inspiration from heist films.
The creation and production of the feature film took a particularly long time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the implementation of health measures for the handling of puppets.
“Once a chicken was done being animated, it had to be quarantined. So there was an area with UV lights where the chickens had to stay for three weeks,” recalls Sam Fell.
Darren Dubicki, who worked as a graphic designer on the first Chicken Run, was dazzled by the sophistication of these puppets despite their “simple and cartoonish” appearance.
“I’m always blown away because I’m not an animator […]. The actors give a voice to a character, but the real performance comes from the animator, who manages to create a magical world,” adds the filmmaker.
The first part of Chicken Run was praised for the importance given to its female characters, and the team hopes that the sequel, in the same vein, will have the same success.
The director’s intention is not to convince viewers to become vegetarians, but after so many years of telling a story about poultry, he stopped eating them.
“I spent a lot of time ‘living’ like a chicken, so I kind of started to see the world from their point of view,” he confides, while specifying that he doesn’t think that people will “stop eating kibble after this movie.”