The possibility of a creature molded like a doughnut may not be one that had anybody charmed several years prior, however Netflix changed that with the presentation of the fascinating creatures known as flummels, highlighted in the first energized film Extinct. The animation experience recounts the account of flummel kin, Op and Ed, as they make a trip through an ideal opportunity to attempt to save their home in the Galapagos Islands from being obliterated and their whole species cleared off of presence. The experience is one that sounds pretty natural to film fans, however at its middle are two or three cute, fuzzy animals with monster openings in their bodies.
Operation and Ed are not normal for any lead characters we’ve seen on-screen previously, and it was a cycle to get their story and plan perfectly. The test of rejuvenating the doughnut molded flummels fell on the shoulders of chief David Silverman and co-chief Raymond S. Persi. ComicBook.com invested some energy consulting with the previous with regards to their excursion from idea to screen.
“They did it just because other than they said, ‘Indeed, they’re in the Galapagos, and we needed creatures that didn’t resemble anything else,'” Silverman told us of the flummels’ surprising plan. “We had certain individuals attempt to do plans, and we recently continued to get things that appeared as though ordinary creatures that had an opening blown in them.”
Getting the flummels to be strange and also adorable proved to be tricky, especially when sticking with the “hole in the middle” idea. But Silverman said that the “aha moment” for the character design arrived from a storyboard artist that thought to make the faces and bodies of the flummels one cohesive component. Once the creative team zeroed in on that design strategy, it was off to the races.
Of course, any time you create something so odd and different, there is going to be some doubt as to whether folks are actually going to connect with it.
“It was such an interesting, weird design, we didn’t know,” the director said. “We looked at it, we said, ‘Well, we like it, but let’s show it to people.’ We thought, ‘What if they all hate it and they all think it’s grotesque?’ But everybody we showed it to said, ‘Oh, they’re adorable.’ I said, ‘Oh, thank God.'”
The flummels worked, and to prove that their shapes could be used for both comedic and storytelling purposes, Silverman and the team put them in the spotlight in the film’s very first scene. The movie opens with a clumsy bird flying around the Galapagos, introducing audiences to the time 1800s time period and the gorgeous island scenery, only to end up getting stuck in Ed’s hole.
“We introduced first the bird and then we showed the bird getting stuck inside of Ed, and then we can sort of demonstrate right off the bat that they have holes in the middle of them,” Silverman explained. “And we already made a joke about that, and then we’re kind of off to the races. We sort of did a lot of nonverbal exposition, visual exposition, introducing these strange characters, and then also, I think, hopefully presenting the tone of what it was.”
As with any animated film, the story of Extinct changed quite a bit throughout the production process. There were opening scenes that focused on Op and Ed instead of the bird. There were different methods of time travel here and there. Perhaps the most significant change, however, came in the third act.
The initial plan for the ending was to have the flummels’ island destroyed entirely, moving them to a new location to establish their happy ending. Silverman had a different idea.
“Originally we were going to destroy the island and they were going to go on to a different island and that’s how the happy ending would be,” he recalled. “And I just said, ‘Wow, it seems better if somehow we suck the whole island away from the bomb, and we transport everybody to the 21st century.’ I said, ‘I don’t know how we’re going to do that,’ but that’s what I told everybody. ‘I think that’s what we have to do at the ending.’ Also, the way we had the third act, there’s no way we could afford to do it. It was very complex, lot of water effects, and it was really crazy.”
Budgets can be tricky for animated projects, and many films run into problems when they try to cut corners, attempting more than their money allows. Silverman and Persi made sure that each creative decision was made to service both story and budget, which allowed them to tell the story they wanted to tell without any of the animation feeling rushed.
“Raymond and I and the writers, we were thinking, ‘Okay, how do we do this in ways that we don’t look cheap?’ Because we wrote it and boarded it in a way that would work,” Silverman said. “We were, in a sense, using the limitations of our budget to our benefit and tell them how we’re going to present the story. And I think that’s always important. So you don’t bite off more than you can chew.”
For Silverman, bringing Extinct to life wasn’t just an exercise in telling a great story or using a budget to its potential. As he said several times throughout the interview, working on this movie was simply, “a lot of fun.”
Extinct is available to stream on Netflix.
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