Quebec-born director Dean DeBlois didn't expect to hear, "How To Train Your Dragon 2" when the envelope was finally opened for the best animated feature category at the 72nd Annual Golden Globes on Sunday night.
"I was genuinely shocked when I heard those words, and it was a real high," said DeBlois, on the phone from Los Angeles Monday morning.
"Every award pundit had The LEGO Movie winning."
It was a Golden Globes first for the How to Train Your Dragon franchise. When the first Dragon film was nominated in 2011, it lost in the best animated feature film category to Toy Story 3.
DeBlois is originally from Aylmer, Que. and got his start on Canadian productions like the late 1980's CBC animated series The Raccoons.
And although he's lived in Los Angeles for several years, he'll always remember where he came from.
"I'm always gonna be a Canadian boy," he told Daybreak's Mike Finnerty the morning after his big win.
Hitting the Globes after-parties
Award in hand, DeBlois said he spent the night at after-parties, though because of a cold, he drank "mostly water--trying to stay hydrated."
"As it turns out, if you have a Golden Globe in your hand, it becomes a ticket to any party," said DeBlois.
"The great thing is about the Golden Globes that it's a relaxed event. There's a lot of alcohol being served, and everyone has loosened up.
"Everyone you have admired and wanted to meet, you can go up to and have a conversation," he said, adding that he had the chance to speak with Damien Chazelle, director of the critically-acclaimed film Whiplash.
Directing CGI actors
DeBlois says directing animated films can be less spontaneous than directing live-action films.
Scenes have to be sketched out in comic-like panels and rendered by artists before they are voiced-over by actors.
"Every actor is different. Jay [Baruchel] has been doing voice-over dubs for French-language cartoons since he was a kid, and he's very comfortable in a booth with a microphone and nothing else," said De Blois.
"In fact, [Baruchel] prefers that to being on set with other actors."
Baruchel, the voice of the lead character in How to Train Your Dragon 2, is originally from Montreal's Notre-Dame-de-Grâce neighbourhood. The film also features the vocal talents of Gerard Butler, America Ferrera and Cate Blanchett.
"With Cate Blanchett, this was her first time [doing animation], and she's methodical about wanting to know every aspect of what the character is thinking, so it really became a discussion every time," said DeBlois.
New Dragon film coming in 2017
The Dragon franchise has been a profitable one — the latest film grossed $618.9 million at box offices across the globe.
DeBlois says creating the films is also an expensive process. How to Train Your Dragon 2 had a $145 million budget.
"The thing about animation is it runs over a million dollars a minute, so we have to be really conscious of how long our shots are," says DeBlois.
It's a process the cast will soon be starting all over again.
DeBlois is already hard at work on How to Train Your Dragon 3, which he says should be out in June of 2017.