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Interview with Pierre DeCelles, director of the Pound Puppies Movie



Interview by NAveryW

Pound Puppies and the Legend of Big Paw has a surprisingly complex storyline. It incorporates the legend of King Arthur and Excalibur, a giant dog inspired by the folk legend of Bigfoot, a magic bone that lets dogs talk to humans, a destiny passed down through generations, a heist plot, a machine that reverses the polarity of one's moral compass, and of course the existing Pound Puppies property. On top of all of that, it has the framing device set in the '80s with the main story set in the '50s.


How did all of these different elements come together?

We used a combination of synopsis, storyboards, designs, story meetings. Very standard production process for that time.




How much of the story came from your own mind?

I had just completed the TV show Spiral Zone when they called me to direct. They already had the synopsis approved and were working on the script. My role was to oversee designs and try to pick the writers' brains, but it was hard as they did not want to share the script until it was finished. I had to start storyboards and I could not wait. So I took the synopsis and roughed out the whole structure of the TV series. I did miniature story sketches and added a lot of my own designs and ideas and did change many things.

Once I had divided the whole thing into sequences, I was ready to give sections to various storymen. In essence they had a visual resume of the sequence besides my instructions. They were encouraged to come up with ideas and gags.


How much was contributed by the credited writers, and how much was requested by Tonka?

They kept contact with Tonka and once they heard I had already started the storyboard, they started to come and see what we we're doing. We would complete a sequence, and explain the board to them and the producers, then they made their suggestions. But the basic structure was my visual synopsis.





Many of the characters in the movie were also present in the '80s television series but their portrayal is very different.

Yes, Tonka wanted different designs and different personalities.


Was the film's staff familiar with the TV show, and if so, how was it decided to go in such a different direction?

Maybe some of the staff, but they had to get my approval and that of the producers, and the client was whom we served. I was very much involved in designing characters, props and locations. I had this lady paint some locations so I could get that Warner Bros. background look, but of course we did not try to imitate Warner Bros totally.


Was there anything you wanted to include that didn't make it into the final film?

Not really; they accepted my ideas. I would have preferred my art over the art approved by the producers. The only thing that really bothered me a lot was the schedule; we had 2 months and a half for pre-production, and 3 months for production. It was insane. Hard to make a good feature film in half a year.




The henchmen characters of Lumpy and Bones are reminiscent of Jasper and Horace from 101 Dalmatians. Was this intentional?

Ah, no sorry, they have nothing to do with Jasper or Horace at all.


The movie never explains how McNasty would have used the Bone of Scone to become king of the world.

Yes, that was a big flaw, but again the schedule was so short, we did not think of that. We missed that weak spot in the writing.


Was this elaborated on in an early draft of the screenplay, or was the production schedule just too strict?

I think that we had a weird collaboration and that did not help the story, especially the time element; I had to rush with the synopsis structure. Let this be a lesson: allow time to develop story and check it before production.




There's often a playful sense of design in the backgrounds, especially in the museum, which is decorated with funny portraits everywhere.

Yes, I wanted to have fun visually.


Were any of them caricatures of specific people?

Sure. The producers were there in the movie, along with the head of layout department, my family members, and myself. They put me all over the place, but I put a stop to that, ha ha.


The overall feel of the movie is influenced heavily by its doo-wop and rockabilly songs. Did that era hold a special sense of nostalgia for you?

Sorry, nothing like that. One Sunday in pre-production the producers saw La Bamba, and the very next day I was told we needed 1950s songs, so then we were back to the drawing board with bar sheet planning, but in the end it probably helped the picture to be more fun after all.


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Do you have any favorite memories of working on the movie?

I was very pleased with my sequence of “The King of Everything”. I did it in just a few days and I did what we call in french “2 'clin d'oeil”, meaning I had some subliminal shots, set design from Jailhouse Rock, and many shots from the Eisenstein's Ivan the Terrible. It was a great deal of fun.


How did you feel when production was finally finished, and how did the final product compare with your initial vision for it?

I was relieved for sure. I was working 16 hours a day, seven days a week, and it was a tiring experience. I just shot 8 pencil tests during the whole production (Dancing at the Pound).

The Taiwan studio had three series being produced there, so the three supervisors had total access to the facility but not me. I depended on my exposure sheets, flipping the drawings, and calling retakes. It is not a great film, couldn't be because of the time and production issues, but I am proud of it. Even if it is an ugly baby, but a parent can't hate his baby, right...haha.



All artwork is owned and copyright by Pierre DeCelles at Crashdown Studio. We are continually making new art projects and archiving older works. If anyone wants to reach us, please email us at [email protected]

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The movie never explains how McNasty would have used the Bone of Scone to become king of the world.

I'm pretty sure it's been confirmed that the Bone allows McNasty to ascend to Godhood.


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Only six months to make a feature-length animated picture is a disaster waiting to happen. Even though it was a bad movie, I have to give the director and his crew credit for how much they've got done within that time.

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