Low Budget, Big Success
Hoodwinked caught the movie world by surprise when it opened in January, almost taking the No. 1 spot at the box office. The low-budget cartoon—which releases to DVD today—went on to gross over $51 million—not exactly Pixar or DreamWorks numbers, but better than recent, and considerably more expensive, Disney films like Treasure Planet, Home on the Range and The Wild. And while the animation was a little on the crude side, some critics hailed the film as a breakthrough for the medium, and said it did for independent cartoons what Pulp Fiction had done for independent live-action films.
Hoodwinkedalso happened to be the work of Christians. Writer-director Cory Edwards had directed numerous Christian music videos, co-hosted the radio show Reasons to Believe, and worked as a Christian stand-up comic before he got his big-screen break. He and his brother Todd had also produced Chillicothe, a Gen-X comedy that got some good buzz at the Sundance festival in 1999, through their production company, Blue Yonder Films.
In anticipation of the film's DVD release today, Edwards spoke with us from his home—and car—in Los Angeles.
How old were you when you made your first film?
Cory Edwards: I was probably eight or nine years old when I started experimenting with our Super 8 camera. For Todd and I, it became this obsessive hobby. We would spend whole summers working on one film. We would storyboard every shot, and do special effects and stunts and all kinds of stuff, and then we had all the strips of film down in the basement that we were doing the edit with. So it became a very involved thing, and I think what it taught us as kids was how to stick with a long-term project and really have a lot of patience to see something all the way to the end.
Were you raised in a Christian home?
Edwards: Oh yeah. I was a pastor's kid, but I wasn't one of those hellraisers. I was one of those sickeningly good kids. We always had the Christian upbringing, and our church was so supportive of us. We were the creative Edwards kids that people were always wondering what they were going to do next. Our church family was like a captive audience, so whenever there was some kind of event, we would do a sketch or something.
Christianity became personal to me when I was at youth camp in seventh grade. I made some decisions at that time, where I realized, I've got to make this mine, I can't just follow this belief because it's been grafted onto me by my parents. And it's never really left me, and I gotta tell you, working in the entertainment business, it is a faith walk like no other. There have been many times where I have felt like God is seriously saying, "This is painful right now and you are failing right now, but I am toughening you for what you need to do."
How did you come to make Hoodwinked?
Edwards: We hooked up with a producer named Sue Bea Montgomery, and she introduced us to a guy named Maurice Kanbar. He's independently wealthy, and he's always had an interest in film, so we got up there in front of him with several live-action projects, and a computer-animated film that I had done called Wobots, which I made with Benjy Gaither [who later provided the voice of Japeth the Goat in Hoodwinked]. So [Kanbar] saw a clip of that and just flipped out and loved it, and he said, "I always wanted to invest in an animated movie." He had said that before, but five years ago, that was a ridiculous notion. Well, there is affordable, over-the-counter software you can buy now that is the same stuff that ILM and Pixar use—at least the basics. So the technology has only recently been in the possession of the little guys to do something like this.