At A Glance
Altogether now, “One for all and all for one, Muskerhounds are always ready!” Prepare to receive a rush of nostalgia as Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds are swashbuckling their way on to the big screen as the beloved 80s cartoon receives a 21st century make over.
Directed by Toni Garcia
Written by Doug Langdale
Animated series created by Claudio Biern Boyd
Based on book by Alexandre Dumas
Released by Altitude
2021, 84 minutes
In Cinemas 25th June 2021
Social Media: @dogtanianthemovie
Karina Matas Piper as Juliette / Queen Anne (voice)
Scott Cleverdon as Dogtanian's Father / Captain Bloodhound (voice)
Julio Perillán as Aramis / King Louis (voice)
Stephen Hughes as Athos / Porthos / Cardinal Richelieu (voice)
Elisabeth Gray as Milady de Winter / Parrot (voice)
Tomás Ayuso as Dogtanian (voice)
Robbie K. Jones as Pip / Treville (voice)
Blair Holmes as Comte de Rochefort (voice)
Cast your mind back to the 80s there are so many beloved cartoons that as children had us glued to our sofas, one such animation was Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds. Inspired by Alexandre Dumas D'Artagnan and the Three Musketeers, the theme tune alone transports us back to those halcyon days of our childhood. It’s hard to believe that 40 years have elapsed since its initial airing, and when I was approached to interview the filmmakers of the new movie I was concerned that the story was in safe hands. My fears were abated as I learned the creator of original cartoon Claudio Biern Boyd is also the driving force behind this new adaptation.
It was truly my pleasure to interview Claudio Biern Boyd and original storyboard artist now director, Toni Garcia. Their passion for the story is clearly apparent, but also their commitment to remain faithful to the original cartoon whilst utilizing modern day animation tools worthy of a contemporary audience.
It’s very exciting to think that we are celebrating 40 years of Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds?!
Claudio: Yes! Thank you. To be honest I must say I wrote it when I was kid ok (laughs).
What was the decision to bring the story to a new generation?
Claudio: You mean to the movies? The theatre?
Claudio: Well, Claire that’s quite normal. Kids actually have so many issues, they have the mobile, the tablets, the platforms, they have so many possibilities that it is quite difficult to be different from the other products on decisions made with the kids. So we decided we were astonished by the reactions in so many countries when after so many years they are still showing Dogtanian on traditional channels or children’s channels and everyone around the world sung the song. Probably you’ll sing it, probably.
I did as well (laughs)!
Claudio: Great! So with Toni and my team in 2011 we start thinking of producing a movie and this has taken us quite a long period of time due mainly of course with the finance of course, because a movie is more difficult to find resources to produce it than a series, and also because we wanted to produce in Spain as much as possible, and in Spain the industry is not as big as in other countries. So Toni had to make a big, big effort. We move the company to Navarra, to Pamplona, I know you must know los Sanfermines, no? Toni built a school, he has been training 10s of artists that made the production. To be honest I am very, very glad because they did it in a short period of time, so after three years and a half we are very proud to say the movie is ready, the movie is finished. The result is very significant because we are very eager of the soundtrack using the original music plus another romantic music for Juliet and Dogtanion. And the soundtrack has been recorded by Orquesta Sinfónica de Pamplona, more than 90 musicians, directed by Vanessa (Garde) she is a disciple of John Williams from Los Angeles and also with the chorus, Coro Pamplonés they are something like 112 girls, 12 years old that were singing the voices of Dogtanian. So I ask you to pay attention to the soundtrack because it is quite amazing in comparison to other sound tracks of existing cartoons.
I will definitely do that! And Toni you’ve been with Dogtanian and the Three Muskerhounds from the beginning as well, you worked as a storyboard artist I believe, so the finished vision of this story and bringing this animation into the 21st century must be very important to you?
Toni: Yes it was a big challenge and also it was a very nice moment because to me, to meet again the characters that I love when I was doing the storyboards. At that time we had several limitations remember in 2D camera could move just left, right, up, down, some in, some out. Now you can do whatever you want to do. However we wanted to be consistent with the original, we wanted to respect as much as possible the legacy of Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds. So what I decided is when you see the movie, you will see the movie starts with a narrative style very consistent with the original show, then when the movie turns and the plot twists and starts making more rhythm, and then suddenly the narrative style becomes more and more complex, the illumination everything. Cameras start moving, actions grows up very fast and at the end of the movie we are seeing a movie of the 21st century narrative style dialogue. It’s a kind of a journey of the hero, but also the journey that is refreshing for the audiences of nowadays.
Claudio: Of course I had to adapt the script to the existing kids that have nothing to do with the 40 years ago kids. So there are mainly two big differences, I don’t want to make a spoiler, but the girls are more active, Juliet is practically the boss of the gang, she has abandoned the stupid role of fiancé of Dogtanian, she is very active. And Milady, the bad girl, the cat, she is terrible she’s like a cat woman. And also on the plots you will be very surprised, I’m not going to say a single word more of that because there are a lot of changes on the plot.
Toni: But all the changes are very consistent with the original TV show and at the end everything has a conclusion, so it is very consistent.
How has it changed where you’re working with a series of cartoons, where now you have 80-90 minutes of a feature film that you have to carve a story into? How has that affected how you tell the story of Dogtanian and the Three Muskerhounds?
Claudio: Well the story follows, there was a certain man called Alexandre Dumas he wrote the book, some crazy Spaniard called Claudio Biern made 26 half hours then afterwards some years he decided to reduce it to 90 minutes. So you may imagine it has been quite difficult, well not difficult to decide what to cut, what not to cut, what to continue, what not to continue. But as Toni was saying we made the Premiere here is Spain, a private screening last Sunday with a theatre in Huesca, tickets sold out and full of parents and kids I would say 50/50. And the reaction was amazing, during the 90 minutes you couldn’t hear a fly, I mean everyone liked the film, the parents they more emotional, nostalgic, the boys, the girls, seven years old, five years old, three years old. They loved the plot so that was your first test and we are very happy with what happened.
I think what I have seen of the film with regards to the animation there’s beautiful vivid colours and it’s not 3D, but feels three dimensional in comparison to the original animation. So I wanted to ask what kind of technology you were using to enable you to create the finished piece.
Toni: Yes, that was a big challenge because we didn’t want to do something like a video game with this kind of electronical final image that is hyper-realistic or something like that. We were trying to build something that was consistent with the original look of the 2D show, but using all the modern technology that can improve the narrative style of the movie. Because kids you know they are very, very, very picky nowadays, because they see very high level animation movies at the theatre so they want to see something of a high level. So we decided to do textures painted by hand, so what you will see there is a computer generated image but all the textures that all the characters have covering them, the skin, the hair everything has been painted by hand originally by our artists in Pamplona that makes an original and unique look. Also I can tell you without doing a spoiler that some of the sequences of the movie are originally done in 2D, I mean like the original 2D show with this drawing with a pencil (laughs showing his pencil). So we went into the original and created a new one.
Claudio: He used to have another pencil, this is a new one (laughs).
Toni: (Laughs) I love the traditional pensils (laughs), (picking up another pencil), the one I used for the film is this one, so it’s almost finished (the pencil).
Warn down to your finger!
Toni: Yeah, yeah, it was going, going, going and now it’s just this (laughs).
Presumably you are working with actors who are lending their voices to the characters, you’re working with adult actors. So how do you then direct them in the sense they are having to work with Dogtanian who is small? Presumably the actor has to change his posture, his voice to reflect that? How did you work with trying to get that from your actors?
Toni: There’s a small secret, every director has his own as you know. I’m quite a clown so I make all the possible voices in the world by myself. So in the original story I put all the voices, ladies, dogs, horses whatever, I do by my own. Then I do what we call the pre-recording, then using my voice I put them on the whole timeline and then I can cut in 90 minutes exactly because I know the timing and the emotion we need. If Richelieu is going to talk slowly this is decided in the pre-recording stage. Then with this guide we go to the recording stage and they have a reference, they hear something and they have also the animation we do in Pamplona following with the lip-sync already done. Then the good actors when they come they have a good step to go on. Then we choose in the casting the most similar voices because 40 years after it hard to find the same people, so went to look for the same voices, we did a big casting and we found the most similar voices, we provided them with this pre-recording and they did an amazing job. So the point was to find the most similar voices to the original TV show as identical as possible.
A lot of acting is reacting, so how did you work with the actors, were they acting against you? Or where they in a sound booth?
Toni: Yeah, yeah, yeah, they hear my voice, they act, they improve because my voice doing girls I’m not really believable (laughs) we had the most famous voices at the moment, they did this work, they did an amazing job, they improved a lot my awful job, so finally the voices are absolutely romantic, or acting or whatever: fantastic.
Claudio: The funny thing Claire we were able to use three actors from the series, but of course their roles have changed because their voices are getting old, so Juliet is the mother of Dogtanian (laughs).
Toni: And also Dogtanian is the father of Dogtanian (laughs) so we re-used them, but with other roles because you know voices have changed.
Absolutely, absolutely and Claudio for you, you are the creator of the original series what is it about Alexandre Dumas’ writing that still captures your imagination and that you feel that you still want to tell his story and take it to new generations?
Claudio: Alexandre Dumas as you probably know it was of the most prolific writers of the story of literature. He had not only one black as they say when there is someone that writes for you, but he had the black, of the black, of the black of the black (laughs). But he actually, he’d be a very talented script writer in Hollywood because he knows how to move love, hate, ambition, good, bad and all this. Let’s say sentiments / feelings of the human beings that he was reflecting in the book are completely transferred to the movie. And what Toni was saying, ‘one for all and all for one,’ this is the main motive that we are trying to transmit to kids. They have to be together, they have to fight with the others, they have to be a team for a noble cause. And of course all of my series and in the movie there is no blood, there is action but there is no violence, this is very important for me.
And do you think as well as we round off the interview that what’s really charming about this film is that 40 years on, parents and children can go and sit and enjoy Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds or should I say Mosqueperros all together, sharing it with a new generation with fresh eyes and new enthusiasm?
Toni: Yes that was from the very beginning that was the challenge because I go to the theatre every single week so have many nephews and so on, so I knew what kids are expecting from a movie from nowadays. So I had completely clear in my mind that we need to respect the legacy, the parents can be disappointed or the grandparents or whatever. When they go to the theatre they need to see what they saw when they were kids, that’s number one. But at the same time the kids that never saw the character, they have to feel like it’s a great movie from nowadays and they need to be excited like Mr Claudio Biern was saying in the last festival of the cinema, all the tests were done and all the kids were like crazy and at the end of the movie people were standing up clapping for a long time. So that was the best example of the movie works for families.
Claudio: Claire as you may remember when you were a kid and you were watching on BBC One and seeing it with your parents, now you are going to see it with your children so it’s a new generation and you will remember your parents, you will remember I imagine due to your age and the time that we produced the series. A mother I remember with five, kids, five kids, from 11 to 3 years old, she said, “Look I was nervous remembering Saturdays at 3:30 watching it with my parents, my sister, my brother and now I am here with my five kids together with my husband watching the movie.”