Andrew Adamson

Andrew Adamson

Born in Auckland, New Zealand, the future director loved to draw cartoons as a youth, but hoped one day to become an architect. He ended up in computer animation by accident, literally, when an injury from a car accident necessitated deferring university for a year. With time to kill before the next year's enrollment, he instead went to work, utilizing his drawing skills in the computer graphics industry that was then in its infancy. He first worked for local New Zealand animation house, The Mouse That Roared, before moving to Video Images, Ltd., where he really began to master the technology. To him, computer animation was not that far removed from the architectural planning he had originally decided on as a career - with both trades melding the fields of science and art. Adamson's work during this period consisted primarily of creating animated corporate logos, opening sequences for TV shows, and animation for a number of commercials.By 1991, Adamson had moved from his native New Zealand to California, joining Pacific Data Images (PDI). The first feature he tackled at PDI was Barry Levinson's "Toys" (1992), a film with artful, plot-relevant special effects. Later he worked on James Cameron's explosion-fest "True Lies" (1994), before supervising the visual effects of both "Double Dragon" (1993) and the sports fantasy "Angels in the Outfield" (1994). Adamson also continued to work in commercials, creating award-winning computer graphic effects that were far more advanced than those he had helped create in New Zealand.After leaving PDI, Adamson continued as Visual Effects Supervisor on three more major film releases: "Batman Forever" (1995), "A Time to Kill" (1996), and "Batman and Robin" (1997). The latter film was ill received by critics and fans alike, some claiming it killed the Batman franchise single-handedly, though the digital effects were never faulted. During this period, Adamson helped fellow Kiwi director Peter Jackson with his horror film, "The Frighteners" (1996). While working with Jackson, he met a producer on set who happened to be working on a little film in development at DreamWorks called "Shrek" (2001). Adamson saw the fortuitous meeting as an opportunity shift out of visual effects and into storytelling, so he agreed to a three-month trial on the computer-animated fantasy about the fat, green ogre of Williams Steig's picture book.Those three months turned into three and a half years, and proved to be the most significant step forward in Adamson's professional career, earning him a co-director credit on the film. Coming from live-action filmmaking rather than a traditional animation background, Adamson brought a visual style to the film that many considered unique and realistic for the CGI animation medium. "Shrek" won the first Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, predictably leading to an inevitable sequel. Adamson stepped up his involvement on "Shrek 2" (2004), adding "story by" and "co-screenplay by" to his co-directing credit. Though "Shrek 2" lost the Best Animated Feature Oscar to CGI rival, "The Incredibles" (2004), it nonetheless, became the highest grossing animated film of all time, making over $440 million domestically and nearly $1 billion internationally. Some even went so far to say it was far superior, content-wise, to the original.The universal appeal of "Shrek" and its sequel brought Adamson to the attention of Walden Media, which was producing another fantasy franchise - the film adaptation of C.S. Lewis' classic The Chronicles of Narnia. Adamson was hired to direct, co-write and co-produce the first installment, "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe" (2005). Though "Narnia" was a live action film, it would meld actual human actors with photo-realistic computer animated creatures. Adamson saw the transition as a logical progression and true test of his skills up to that point. Released by Disney's Buena Vista Pictures in 2005, "Narnia" quickly surpassed "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" (2003) as the company's highest grossing live action film.Adamson would return to direct the sequel of the critically acclaimed family feature, but the filmmaker refused to rest on his laurels with "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" (2008). Adamson pushed the envelope by creating a spectacular action sequence not in the novel and imbibing a darker feel in keeping with the film's theme of the persecution of the Narnians.