Gaina, France’s first feature-length, all-CG, animated movie, has a girl heroine, an element that was ironically adopted just to be different.
Gaina is a young girl who lives in a cloud world, and the 75-minute film tracks her adventures with an evil force lurking in her planet’s nexus. The film’s producers at Chaman Productions, an almost-two-year-old interactive and linear production company that exists in partnership with France Telecom (for which Chaman develops on-line content technologies), come more from the video game side, as does the film’s premise. Gaina was first imagined by co-authors Patrick Daher and Chris de la Porte as a video game three and a half years ago, before an Uzi-toting Lara Croft arrived on the interactive scene, and a girl heroine was chosen to give the game an original edge. ‘At the time, there were no other [interactive game] products with female [lead] characters,’ says Daher. In addition to offering a new range of tool kit items, such as feminine intuition, says Daher, ‘as animators, it was more interesting to study female moves, and to put her in situations with action. It was unusual.’
The producers envision that the girl heroine, in its feature incarnation, will be an advantage in the Asian market, playing off the manga cult. They also know that it will not suit a mass market in North America and Europe. However, rather than tweaking the premise to have more boy appeal, which is the more accepted box-office strategy for the film’s target demographic of 12 to 25, they wanted to be ‘honest with the idea,’ says Daher.
The team began working in earnest on the game a year and a half ago, and started working on images for the film six months ago. The budget-low for a CG film-is around US$4.5 million, and Chaman’s plan is to implement the game production techniques for the movie. Delivery for both the game and the film is slated for the end of `99, and production (probably a Canada/France/Japan co-production) and distribution deals were being finalized at press time. MM