the Monkey & the Maestro

It is fun seeing people I’ve worked together with in the animation trenches years ago now getting to direct, and two good friends have directed films that will come out this month. The first debuts on August 18 via Netflix –  THE MONKEY KING, a CG animated film directed by Tony Stacchi. I’ve known Tony since 1986, and worked with him at many studios on multiple projects (though not this one, sadly). His film stars Jimmy O. Yang, & BD Wong with Stephen Chow (of “Shaolin Soccer” fame) as executive producer, and Pearl Studio (Shanghai) & Reel FX (Dallas) handled the animation. This story of course is inspired by the famous Chinese legend of Sun Wukong – “Journey to the West”.  See the snazzy MONKEY KING TRAILER HERE.

Netflix's The Monkey King
“The Monkey King” directed by Tony Stacchi.

The second film made by a pal film opens August 25 SEPTEMBER 15 in US theaters –THE INVENTOR, a stop-mo & hand drawn animated film, written & directed by Jim Capobianco. Starring Stephen Fry, Marion Cotillard, Matt Berry, & Daisy Ridley, it was Produced by Arial Contrivance Workshop (USA) Curiosity Studio (Ireland) & Folioscope (France). See the charming INVENTOR TRAILER HERE. The film is being distributed in several countries, and in the USA by Blue Fox Entertainment. If you don’t see it it playing in anywhere near you, add theatre requests to their list HERE.

The Inventor
“The Inventor” written & directed by Jim Capobianco.

I actually worked on this one myself, and it wasn’t the first time I’d worked with Jim. Although we both worked on “Finding Nemo“, it was not at the same time. “Ratatouille” was the first time we worked together, and on many projects since. Jim also helped me get back into the animation industry (after a health setback). For most of 2016, I worked with Jim (& Alex da Silva) on “Mary Poppins Returns” and after that, I was very happy to work on Jim’s 12 year passion project, about the great Leonardo da Vinci. Most of Jim’s film is stop-motion animation, but I storyboarded one of the hand-drawn animation sequences. Specifically, a scene where the Maestro sketches his famous war machines for The Pope, and demonstrates the unending escalations and oneupmanship of war.

the Wargames sequence from "The Inventor"
A few storyboards from the Wargames sequence of “The Inventor”.

Leonardo was a true genius but it is poignant to think that, just like the rest of us, even he had to sometimes work on projects he didn’t like, and for people he didn’t respect. Maybe working for a bellicose renaissance Pope was much like any of us working for boneheaded bosses? These were some of the earliest southpaw storyboards I ever drew, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing the finished film this month.

UPDATE: Due to other (big) movies changing their release dates, the release of THE INVENTOR got pushed a few weeks, to September 15th. See exactly where it will be playing near you HERE.

6 thoughts on “the Monkey & the Maestro”

  1. Jamie! Thank you for posting this! You forgot to mention you did the voice of the “cannon ball” soldier, a riveting, stellar performance. Also we met on Nemo but I think the first time we actually did work directly together was on Ratatouille. You are my north star my friend. Let’s get a curry soon.

    • Oh I’d certainly MET you on Nemo (and heard of your legend!) and we both are listed in the credits on that movie, but the first time I worked side by side WITH you was while rodent wrangling!

      And yes, I contributed a voice to your movie too (in a role I was born to play – bedraggled cannon fodder!)

  2. Two films I’ve been really looking forward to. Congratulations to Tony, Jim and the scene stealing bedraggled cannon fodder.

  3. Yes, August is an exciting month to expect these great films from the gangs we know……..ah…….btw……if I am allowed to add one more to “watch list” for this month, “Mech Cadets”( will be on Netflix, season premiere August 10. It is a series, not a feature, so it won’t qualify for the category, but Patrick “Yagi-kusai” Awa was a supervising director and art director of the series, trying so hard to maintain his plain sane for the last three years. If you and anyone have some time to kill while waiting for Tony’s “Monkey King” on Netflix.


Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.