Apr 16, 2020

By Mireille Soria
President of Paramount Animation Mireille Soria on bringing the comedy and genuineness of SpongeBob SquarePants to life during these uncertain times.

In Making it Work, creatives and decision-makers from across ViacomCBS describe how they turned an idea into a reality.

In this installment, Mireille Soria, president of Paramount Animation, explains how the studio seamlessly shifted to an all-remote workplace and how SpongeBob is keeping them motivated.

At Paramount Animation, we’ve always made movies in the computer. The studio is in a unique position because we already work remotely with a lot of artists around the world and now, with everyone working from home, it’s not so much a change as it is an acceleration of where our industry was already headed.

We have four films on track in production and pre-production right now—one of which is Sponge On The Run—an animated feature based on the Nickelodeon franchise SpongeBob SquarePants—which is being made in collaboration with our team in L.A. and a group of about 100 crew in Montreal who are finishing the movie. The shining light in all this madness is the character of SpongeBob. His optimism, comedy, and heartwarming nature are truly a great inspiration for us as we navigate this new way of life.

 

As for the progress of the film, we finished the animation so now there are around a hundred people working on the lighting and compositing. We’re also in the process of working on the music with Hans Zimmer and his collaborator, Steve Mazzaro. Hans is an amazing composer and musician and he also has these unbelievable resources. We just love working with him.

He’s been calling on these brilliant world-class musicians to work on Sponge On The Run to record at their home studios and send us the music. That's an idea that he had in the very beginning. He did it on Sherlock Holmes and Lion King. It isn't an unusual concept, but I think with the coronavirus and social distancing, we’ve been able to really embrace that approach. So far, it’s been an advantage, I have to say.

"SpongeBob's optimism, comedy, and heartwarming nature are truly a great inspiration for us."

Mireille Soria

President of Paramount Animation

What I love about working on this movie is that we’re really making it a love letter to SpongeBob SquarePants creator Stephen Hillenburg. (Hillenburg died from complications of ALS in 2018.) We’re also remaining true to the spirit of SpongeBob. We’re making sure that it has the level of comedy to which Steve was always committed, and even more so now knowing that we need to laugh together.

The initial release date of Sponge on The Run was slated for May, but with the uncertainty of theaters reopening, Paramount Pictures decided to push the premiere to August 7th. I think we will get back to normal, though it might be a slightly different normal. People will always want to go out and people will always want to go to the movies and be entertained. And, I think particularly after being at home, people will want to go out to laugh and be inspired. That's my hope.

 

-As Told To Nicole Bitette-

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