“For me, part of the fascination with making animation is you go to a place; it’s a complete immersion in someone else’s fantasy.” Chris Wedge
First gaining notice with his animation work in Joe’s Apartment (1996), Chris Wedge received an ovation for his directing/writing attempt in the short animated movie Bunny (1998) and brought home an Academy Award and several film festival prizes. He then directed Ice Age (2002), a smash hit picture which was also an Oscar nominee. Wedge is also the voice of Scrat, the famous acorn-loving squirrel character in Ice Age (2002) and the sequel Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006).
The animator, who credited Saturday morning cartoons as the inspiration for Blue Sky movies, also made an impact with Robots (2005). The owner of Blue Sky Studios will serve as the producer for Horton Hears a Who (2008) and sit in the director’s chair for the adaptation of the children’s book.
Animation All the Way
Childhood and Family:
Born in 1958, Christian Wedge was raised in a Queen’s borough of New York. After graduating from Fayetteville-Manlius High School, Chris studied Film at the State University of New York (SUNY) and worked as a stop-motion animator after graduation. Later, he earned a Master of Arts degree in Computer Graphics and Art Education from Ohio State University’s Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD) program (formerly CGRG).
In the 1980s, Chris taught animation at the MFA Computer Lab of New York’s The School of Visual Arts. Almost at the same time, he also set up a worldwide animation studio.
Joining MAGI/Syntha Vision, Chris Wedge became the scene programmer for the sci-fi fantasy movie about a man entering the computer world, Tron (1982). Taking on higher responsibility, Wedge became the director for two short animation projects, Tuber’s Two Step (1985) and Balloon Guy (1987, also as the animator). Amid his screen projects, he was also busy teaching and serving as the Vice President of Creative Development for Blue Sky Studios, which he established in 1987.
The producer of the CGI experimental film The Mind’s Eye (1990, video) began catching attention with the fantasy comedy about talking cockroaches, Joe’s Apartment (1996, starring Jerry O’Connell), in which his animation-directing effort won an Ottawa International Animation Festival award. It led to his involvement as the creative supervisor for Alien: Resurrection (1997) and several commercials.
In 1998, the animator directed and wrote Bunny, a 7-minute computer generated story about an old bunny pestered by an old moth. Thanks to Bunny, Wedge won his first Oscar, as well as a prize from the 1999 Drama Short Film Festival, the 1999 Oberhausen International Short Film Festival and the 2000 Nashville Film Festival. Additionally, the short film was nominated for a Newport International Film Festival’s Jury award.
“What made Ice Age work is that it had its shiny candy coatings, but inside [there] was a soft, creamy center.” Chris Wedge
Multiplying his success, Wedge directed the huge blockbuster hit Ice Age (2002), which grossed over $176 million in the United States alone. Furthermore, the picture brought in an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature, an Annie award nomination for Best Directing and a DVD Premiere award nomination for Best Audio Commentary. In Ice Age, Wedge also provided his vocals for Scrat, the acorn-loving squirrel that became the icon of the movie. Later, Scrat also starred in the short project Gone Nutty (2002, video), the sequel Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006, directed by Carlos Saldanha), The Meltdown’s spin-off video game (2006) and in an episode of the animated series “Family Guy” (2006).
“We got Ice Age made when we didn’t know if we could make a feature film, [and] we kept it as simple as we could. Once Ice Age was successful, the studio said, ‘Sure, go make Robots. Do whatever you want, but to a degree. Sure, yeah, great, do you know what you are doing?’ So we really, it was kind of a be-careful-what-you-ask-for thing, or they-gave-us-enough-rope-to-hang-ourselves. Whatever cliché you want to pick.” Chris Wedge on Robots (2005)
In 2005, Wedge’s next directing attempt, Robots, was released. The animated film featured the voice of Ewan McGregor, Halle Berry, Mel Brooks, Greg Kinnear and more. It will be ensued by Wedge’s upcoming animation film, an adaptation of William Joyce’s illustrated children’s book, “The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs.” As a director, he will work with 20th Century Fox Animation and screenwriter Jim V. Hart.
Wedge is the executive producer of Horton Hears a Who (2008), the animated version of the Dr. Seuss’ story. Directed by Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino, the film will star Jim Carrey and Steve Carell.