Wolfwalkers: the Story behind Story

Summer: June to September, 2017

Original concept trailer released in early 2017.
Director notes by Ross Stewart. Each sequence began with a briefing featuring thumbnails like these, but many evolved into completely different things as script and animatic changed over time.
Several panels from my first story test. These followed early drafts, but were drawn before I read the full screenplay. My compositions were noticeably more tridimensional than in later boards. I also made Robyn afraid of her wolf spirit, since I assumed it was a specter haunting her at night!
Various panels from my first pass of the third act forest battle. I came up with my own shorthand terms to quickly identify shots in discussions while making this: there was “the Robocop POV”, “the Brian DePalma split diopter”, “the Blair Witch high angle” and many others. Tomm always knew what I meant.
Several shots from my storyboard for Robyn and Moll’s great escape. Most of the time, kinetic action was achieved through a combination of dutch angles, silhouettes and strategic use of shadows. And yes — Moll used to bring down the main gate by sheer force in the last second.
Photos of Kilkenny and surroundings from 2017. My entire phone gallery from that year looks like an Aer Lingus brochure.
Wide shot of the cluttered Kilkenny skyline featuring Kilkenny Castle. Overly drawn storyboard by me.

Fall: September to December, 2017

A handful of story panels drawn by Jez Hall in his unique style.
Bill inspects the magic vines. I sketched half of this panel, Ariel did the other half.
I spent the first half of September 2017 working on my favorite deleted scene. In it, Cromwell invited Bill and Robyn to join him in his chamber, then toyed around with them by playing the nice host while threatening Bill in a passive-aggressive way that wouldn’t be picked up by Robyn. The guy was a nasty piece of work, he even fired his gun at a skull hanging over the girl’s head to make his point clear at the end of the scene.
The opening scenes of Wolfwalkers are way less foresty than they used to be.
Robyn frees Sean Og. Storyboard by Louise Bagnall.
Robyn and Mebh’s bonding moment.
“I gotta catch that wolf!” You wouldn’t believe the number of times Robyn said this in the movie’s first cut. Storyboard by Guillaume Lorin.
Various panels from Guillaume’s storyboard for the “running with the wolves” sequence. The Aurora song that goes with it was used as a temp track from the beginning, and it played on early animatic cuts screened for the crew. “Too pop” was the most common reaction from everyone, but the song fit the sequence nicely. Eventually, a more folksy cover was recorded to play in the final movie.

Winter: December to March, 2018

A few panels from Robyn’s betrayal in the courtyard scene. Guillaume Lorin made a first pass of this massive sequence, which I reworked afterwards. Pictured here is my second pass combining shots from both of us.
A heartbroken Mebh learns about Moll’s fate. Storyboard by Giovanna Ferrari.
Sequence thumbnails. I have two notebooks filled with these that basically cover the whole movie.
Left: layout shot developed from the storyboard. Top right: storyboard vs. final picture in one my shots. Down right: storyboard panel by Tomm Moore.

Spring: March to June, 2018

Early shot exploration by Arina Korczynski. Many of her ideas were used as reference well into pre-production.
This type of shot was common for Cromwell scenes. Storyboard by Joe Carroll.
Tomm and Ross directing the voice recording sessions. Here featuring Niamh Moyles — Mebh’s scratch voice — playing a cameo role as a town merchant.

Summer: June to September, 2018

The first sequence was one of the last to be made. Gio, Louise and I brainstormed it, then I did the final board.
Some people think that since Cromwell was bitten by a wolfwalker, he will turn into a wolfwalker himself. No, he won’t: he’s wearing armor.
Various panels from Bill and Cromwell’s final showdown from Guillaume Lorin and I (plus a token Tomm Moore drawing). Guillaume handled the first pass of this sequence back in 2017 and I later expanded it. Here showing the original shot order for Bill’s injury reveal and his counter attack.

Fall: September to December, 2018

Left: my original desk with part of my prop collection from various movies I definitely did not work on. Top right: Cartoon Saloon’s The Maltings HQ entrance. Down right: window art by Alice Dieudonne.
Working in the scullery, finishing up the animatic. There are some similarities.
Animatic vs. final film. Storyboard by me.

2019 and Beyond

Greenpeace short made by key members of the Wolfwalkers team. I came back as the sole storyboard artist this time.
Official teaser trailer for Wolfwalkers released in September 2020.

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Iker Maidagan

Iker Maidagan

I write and storyboard. One for movies you see in theaters, the other for myself.