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Creating a movie buzz

Secret to success behind the animated film is in ‘thinking bee,’ the creators say.

November 07, 2007|By Joyce Rudolph

The buzz word behind the making of “Bee Movie” was collaboration.

Filmmakers at DreamWorks Animation SKG took the bees’ mantra in the film, “thinking bee,” and put it into motion, as they created the new animated film starring Jerry Seinfeld.

The concept of “thinking bee” is everyone working together and doing a job well. It seemed to carry over into making the film, as the core group — Seinfeld, directors Simon Smith and Steve Hickner, producer Christina Steinberg and editor Nick Fletcher — blended wonderfully, Hickner said.

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While this was Seinfeld’s first animation project, he was easy to work with, Hickner said.

“Working with Jerry, it’s hard not to get along with him, he’s such an easygoing guy — and just like he is on the TV show, laid back and lots of fun to be around,” the Glendale resident said. “He’s the straw that stirs the drink. He creates the environment so that it’s fun.”

And the rest, save Steinberg, had worked together on other animation projects, he said.

“None of us have ever worked with her, but she’s a delight,” Hickner said. “She’s the den mother of us all.”

This project started in 2004, when Seinfeld was having dinner with Steven Spielberg in the Hamptons, Hickner said.

In a lull in the conversation, Seinfeld blurted out an idea he had for a movie, “Bee Movie,” and SpieIberg called and ran the title by Jeffrey Katzenberg, who called Seinfeld the next morning to tell him they wanted to go ahead with the movie.

Seinfeld recruited writers, some from his “Seinfeld” TV show, and they wrote a story about a bee, Barry B. Benson, who discovers humans are stealing their honey and making a profit from it, Hickner said.

“He files a lawsuit to sue the humans for stealing the honey and brings them to trial and beats them, and it has unexpected results,” he said.

And so the collaboration began.

To bring the bee to life in an animated film, a crew of artists translated the script into pictures or storyboards. The storyboards were made into a story reel, which Hickner called a moving comic book. Then temporary voices, sound effects and music were added.

“It’s a blueprint of what the movie will look like,” he said.

Hickner and Smith oversaw the transformation along with Seinfeld, Steinberg and Fletcher.

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