Interesting Facts * June 2000 Jeff Smith Interview * July 2003 Jeff Smith Interview
Directed by: Jeff Smith
Production Start Date: Fall 2000
Released on: Originally scheduled for a 2002 release, the project was dropped by Nickelodeon in August 2000, meaning that very unfortunately, the Bone movie might never see the day of lighy
Box-Office: $ in the U.S., $ million worldwide
In a 2000 Onion interview, creator Jeff Smith mentioned his "wish list" for voice roles: Tim Robbins as Fone Bone, Danny DeVito as Phoney Bone, Bill Murray as Smiley Bone, and Tom Waits as the dragon.
If the first film is a success, it could be the first of a trilogy that brings most of the epic story from the comics to the big screen. Smith's plan is for this first first film to end where the "Dragonslayer" epic ended in the comics.
Three cousins from Boneville (Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone) end up in an uncharted land filled with strange creatures. Now, they have to figure out to get back home to Boneville... one thing to worry about first? Dragons. Second things? Rat Creatures. This is an animated fantasy epic that the production company compares to Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.
This is how Jeff Smith described the three Bones while talking to The Onion: "...Fone Bone, who was the good, patsy-type leader for his other cousins; Phoney Bone, his cousin who was greedy and self-centered; and Smiley Bone, who was the happy-go-lucky ne'er-do-well."
According to Cartoon Research, Nickelodeon and Paramount have allowed their option on the film rights to expire on August 31, 2000. This leaves it back in the hands of creator Jeff Smith's Character Builders animation studio, who plans to shop it around to other studios.
On September 13, 2000, Jeff Smith revealed to Comics 2 Film that he put a stop to the project, explaining, "It just wasn't gelling. They wanted to keep going. They offered another development period and I walked away. Some of the things that I wasn't crazy about, once we got into [production], we could work them out. Continuing into another development period with no change in real direction, I didn't see much point in that." He also added that the project isn't at all dead, saying, "The option's lapsed, but everybody still likes everybody. I still think there's a good possibility we're going to do it… I'm definitely not running away from it. In fact we're still talking. I think things are good. I'm not frustrated in any way. We're just taking a breather. I just had to hit the reset button."
At last April's Pittsburgh Comic Con , Jeff Smith gave further details on the demise of the animated feature with Paramount/Nickelodeon: "I wasn't willing to make it as commercial as they wanted. They wanted Britney Spears songs in it and some of the things that I thought wasn't right for Bone When we first signed up with them to start doing it, [Nickelodeon] understood Bone and wanted to do it. But about two months later the first Rugrats movie was released. It was a huge success and Paramount who is the umbrella company, Paramount said you're going to make all movies like the Rugrats movies." After that the efforts to get the Bone movie became increasingly frustrating.
However, Jeff Smith is still optimistic about making an animated feature based on his comic. He reports having some interesting talks with other outlets, but stopped short of naming names. He is now considering producing the movie independently with Jim Kammerud, who he founded the Character Builders animation studio with. Karmmerud's star is on the rise after directing the direct-to-video Little Mermaid 2, which Smith said was one of 2000's top-10 highest grossing movies, including live-action and theatrical releases. "Between us we might be able to raise the money ourselves now and just do it the way we want to. Once we get going I think we could find a studio," Smith told fans. The creator also cautions, "but that's all pie in the sky."
Creator Jeff Smith
lost his faith to ever get the movie made by December 2002. "I shelved
all my previous dreams of telling Bone in newspaper comic strips
or in animation." However he added that "I made a little behind the scenes
book titled the Bone Reader. It was filled with thumbnail sketches,
but no finished pieces to compare them against. The book also had lots
of quotes pulled from interviews I'd given, but there was no central narrative
thread to hold the thing together. I'd love a chance to remake that book
now that the Bone saga is nearly complete, and do it right this
2000 JEFF SMITH INTERVIEW
By Tasha Robinson, published in June 2000 in The Onion
Smith is one of independent comics' greatest success stories. Since its
1991 debut, his quirky, charming, self-published fantasy series Bone has
evolved from an obscure cult hit into a cottage industry, published in
13 languages around the world. The epic story of three blobby, marshmallow-like
creatures called "Bones" lost in a richly detailed world of hideous monsters
and cute Disney-esque creatures, has won Smith dozens of awards--including,
most recently, his sixth Harvey for Best Cartoonist. Smith put the Bone
comic book on hiatus in 1999 to write, direct, and produce a theatrical
animated adaptation planned for release this year. That film is still in
development. Meanwhile, Bone returns this month, and Smith's company, Cartoon
Books, is publishing its first non-Bone-related book, Linda Medley's fairy-tale-inspired
Castle Waiting. Also in the works: a Bone prequel miniseries, Rose, written
by Smith and illustrated by Ballads And Sagas artist Charles Vess. Smith
recently spoke to The Onion A.V. Club about his history and Hollywood physics.
The Onion: Is it true that you had the original idea for Bone in kindergarten?
Jeff Smith: Yeah, but it wasn't the full-blown idea. It was these three little Warner Bros./Disney-type characters who had adventures in their little world. They had relationships with each other that are pretty much the same relationships they have now. So I guess the characters themselves, even in kindergarten, were pretty full-blown. I had Fone Bone, who was the good, patsy-type leader for his other cousins; Phoney Bone, his cousin who was greedy and self-centered; and Smiley Bone, who was the happy-go-lucky ne'er-do-well. I can look at those old cartoons I drew when I was, like, eight, and their personalities were intact, even then.
O: Did you always want to be a cartoonist?
JS: Yeah, I did. I mean, you're five, so what do you know? But I loved Woody Woodpecker, I loved Mickey Mouse, I loved Bugs Bunny, and I knew that all these characters had a creator: I knew Walter Lantz made up Woody Woodpecker, and I knew Walt Disney made up Donald Duck. And I did want to have my own characters. So I doodled around and made up all sorts of them. I think all kids do. All kids draw some kind of cartoon characters. They just grow out of them, and I didn't. [Laughs.] And for some reason, the Bones were the ones that stuck with me. Out of all the ones I used to draw as a kid, those were the ones that kept reappearing absent-mindedly in the margins of my school papers, climbing up the blue stripes that you're supposed to write on, then falling off again and crashing to the bottom of the page.
O: Did you actively pursue a cartooning career when you were young? Do you have any formal art training?
JS: Not really, although I had a very good teacher in high school who pushed me toward art school. I'm not sure I had any clear idea of where I wanted to go. I attended the Columbus College Of Art & Design for a little while, until I realized they didn't take cartooning very seriously. Then I ended up going to Ohio State, where they had a daily newspaper and I could draw a comic strip every day of the week. I thought, "Now, that's some useful training. That's something I could do."
O: Those strips for The Lantern look very similar to Bone, with the same cast and even some of the same jokes. Your artistic style has been consistent over the years.
JS: It was definitely an early false start on Bone. I knew I had these characters, but I didn't really know exactly what I wanted to do with them. They're funny, and they're Bugs Bunny-like, but the stories I'm interested in are longer adventure stories. I made a few attempts: The Lantern one was an attempt to do a fantasy situation, but with a daily Doonesbury-type comic ending, which got mixed results at best. [Laughs.]
O: Have you considered publishing those early strips?
JS: I did collect them once. I put them in a little book when I was still in school, and I sold those around campus. I went to a printer, published it, and physically carried it around to all the different bookstores in Columbus. I sold 2,000 of them, and I'd only printed 2,500. But, boy, I can't stand looking at them now. I look back at them and they're just horrible. They're so... so... I have no desire to print them again at all.
O: What was your major at OSU?
JS: I never graduated, but I was kind of floating between journalism and art, because neither one wanted to claim me, as a cartoonist. Cartooning is some kind of bastard child of art and journalism.
O: When you left college, you helped found the Character Builders animation studio. Did you ever consider using the studio to independently animate Bone?
JS: I wondered if I could do an independent Bone thing, a short or something. It was pretty vague, I was young, and I didn't know what I wanted to do with the story or my characters. But as I got into the animation, as I learned more about the business, I learned that you need a lot of people to do anything animated--even a short, let alone a feature film. And you need a lot of money. So you need to convince a bunch of people to do this idea, to let you be the director, and to give you millions of dollars, and I started to think, "I don't know how feasible that is. It might make more sense to do it in print." Which was my original childhood love anyway, stuff like Peanuts and Doonesbury. So I started to look into going back into print cartooning, and I discovered The Tick, by Ben Edlund, which was a self-published comic book. That led me into comic-book stores. I had no idea that there were stores all over the world that sold comic books, and that there was a distribution process where you could set up your own label and get your books on the shelves. Once I did that, I could suddenly do the world of Bone, and I discovered this canvas that was perfect for telling it. It pulled me away from animation instantly.
O: At one point, you did intend to publish Bone as a mainstream newspaper comic strip, right?
JS: That was what I originally wanted, yes. The syndicates were smart enough to see that it didn't belong there. I spent a couple of years developing it, first with Tribune Media Services and then with King Features, but in the end it just didn't fly for a number of reasons. Mostly it wasn't funny enough. Like I said, it didn't belong in a comic strip. It's this fantasy world and an ongoing adventure, and a continuity strip today just isn't the same nowadays as it was when you had stuff like Flash Gordon and The Phantom.
O: When you did the first issue of Bone, how much of the overall story had you planned out?
JS: I thought I had a pretty good idea, and I did. I knew the ending, and I had a large, broad outline all set up. I made sure I wrote the ending, and I wrote the last page before I sat down and drew the first page.
O: How much spontaneity goes into the individual issues?
JS: A huge amount. That big giant broad plan is a wide road that I can wander all over. I find that the best moments come completely unexpectedly. I'm probably best known in comics for doing this segment called "The Great Cow Race," which is Gran'ma Ben racing, on foot, against all these cows. It's a really ridiculous, stupid thing, and it was not in the big outline at all. Gran'ma Ben was just this little, crazy old lady who raced cows. I thought that was sort of an off-the-top, Far Side-type joke. She's just weird. But then I started getting letters from readers saying, "Oh, I can't wait to see Gran'ma race the cows! I can't wait for the big cow race!" And I thought, "Oh, my gosh, I've created this expectation!" I could see in the story that I was sort of pulling toward it. The readers knew I was going toward it and I didn't. So eventually I had to belly up to the bar and put a cow race in the story. It turned out really well, and I fooled everyone.
O: Did you deliberately start with a funny story to draw people in and then shift tones once you had an audience, or have your intentions for Bone evolved over the last decade?
JS: That was actually very intentional. Even now, when we're working on the movie and we're working on scripts, I have to keep reminding everyone that you don't just jump to the fantasy. I think people have a little wall they throw up real quick if they see swords and sorcery. There's some really schlocky swords and sorcery out there, some schlocky fantasy. Even if a new TV show comes on and it's really good, and everybody's trying to get you sucked in, you don't want to watch it at first. You're like, "I don't have time to get into one more big thing. I don't want to have to watch that new TV show every week." It's the same thing with comics or fantasy. If I'd started Bone and said, "This is going to be a giant epic," people would be like, "Do I really want to get into that?" So I intentionally backed up and said, "I'll start with just the Bones, with simple Disney- and Uncle Scrooge-type adventures. We'll just proceed and let the characters fall into the adventure, just the way you fall into your adventures in real life.
O: How has the writing process changed for you as the plot has gotten more complex?
JS: Well, it's become more difficult. I have so many balls in the air that I have to constantly go back, reread, and say, "Ooop, I almost forgot about that one; gotta tie that up." That was one of the main reasons I took the break, even more than working on the movie. It just all kind of came together at the same time. I'd reached this point at the end of Act Two where I'd pulled all these threads together and it was something. It's a really big story, and I'd had no idea how big the story had gotten. Even I still look at Bone and think of it as a pretty simple little story, but it's massively complicated. I needed to step back from it for just a second, because that constant deadline of putting that book out every two months... You get to a point where you don't have time to think. That can be good, because sometimes when you don't have time to think you get some unexpected flow-of-consciousness stuff in there, but I needed to step back, reassess the whole story, and make sure it's on track the way everything's going.
O: The story has gotten more sophisticated, but some people probably still look at the simply drawn characters and the slapstick humor and assume it's a children's comic. Do you write it for any particular age group?
JS: I'm not sure. I think I write it for me. I know that might sound like a cliché, but I'm pretty sure there are other people like me who are adults... I'm 40 years old, and I still love watching Bugs Bunny slap the bull on the nose. I still watch those cartoons, and yet I also enjoy reading books about science, or the current fiction. I think the audience is truly all ages: I don't put anything in there that kids can't see, or shouldn't see, but I have to keep it interesting for me as an adult. I'm not sure who the audience is; I'm just glad they're reading it.
O: Your love of cartoons shows in your sense of comic timing.
JS: Oh, yeah. I'm not sure exactly how it all works, of course. I do know that I look at the world of Bone as one that's in motion. I don't think of it as a separated-out, drawn-frame-by-frame comic. I think the characters are really moving. When I want to set the timing up, I try to make it look like the frames are just little boxes up above that we're looking through into the world, and they just have to move. So the timing has to be the same comic timing you would have comic actors use. It's not funny if it doesn't snap, you know?
O: The motif of a highly detailed background and iconic, cartoony characters is common in Japanese and independent American comics, but it's not seen nearly as much in the mainstream. How did you arrive at the style?
JS: It definitely wasn't conscious. I think it was because the comics I loved were Tintin, which is a little round-headed boy with a little swoop of hair, and totally realistic backgrounds, with absolutely authentic detail in every background. Uncle Scrooge, by Carl Barks. This duck wearing spats and a top hat dives into his money bin, and every single coin is lovingly rendered. Or the bulldozer he uses to move the money around: Every nut and bolt is perfect and real. I actually think that kind of reality in the backgrounds adds to the believability of the comic as a whole.
O: Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics talks a lot about the reasoning behind that style. Did you feel a spark of recognition when you read it?
JS: Exactly. My whole take on Understanding Comics was like, "Wow, I kind of knew all this stuff, but this is like pulling away the curtain when I could just see the shapes through it." I enjoyed Understanding Comics quite a bit.
O: Some press releases from 1999 indicated that you were taking two years off for the Bone movie, but the current reports make it look like bringing the comic back this year was the plan all along.
JS: I've found that in Hollywood there is no "plan all along." They don't operate under the same rules of physics as we do. I think we were a little optimistic: We thought that, because Bone was so fleshed out, our development time would be really short, like six months or so. Instead, it's turned out to be a fairly normal development time of two years. But things are going really well, and we're hoping to put the movie out in 2002. But I didn't want to take any more time from my real field, which is comic books.
O: Now that you're back to doing the comic book, have you changed your mind about directing the movie yourself?
JS: I won't do the Bone comic once I start directing full-time.
O: The comic will go back on hiatus? When?
JS: I have a foggy timeline. It'll be around September or October so I can put out a couple of issues of Bone. I'm trying to balance it. I don't know. The movie could take a longer or shorter amount of time. It's hard to say.
O: What's the sticking point with the movie? Why the delay in production?
JS: Nothing, really, just the normal course of putting it together. We're working on the script. I just turned in a draft before Christmas, and that got the go-ahead to go to the next level. So now we're doing a rewrite that's happening right now. When that's done, hopefully we start.
O: How has the plot of the movie evolved with the rewrites?
JS: Now it's looking like it's going to follow closer to the comic than my first draft actually did, and go from the beginning through the "Dragonslayer" storyline, where Phoney Bone whips up the villagers' fears and superstitions about dragons for his own benefit. Sort of a McCarthy-era thing, where anyone who doesn't agree with Phoney gets labeled a dragon sympathizer. I think that's where we're going to take the story. I'm really happy with the direction of it right now.
O: Have you considered voices at all?
JS: No, I haven't. I'm terrified of that part. [Laughs.]
O: What if you could get anyone you wanted?
JS: Just a fantasy wish list? Okay, for Fone Bone, Tim Robbins. He's such a great actor, but all his acting comes from inside. Maybe Danny DeVito for Phoney Bone. Smiley Bone? I'm not sure. Bill Murray might not be bad. A really good suggestion somebody made to me was for the dragon: Tom Waits.
O: What about Gran'ma Ben and Lucius? Thorn?
JS: I just can't picture it. I'm terrified.
O: Are you a big Moby Dick fan? Is that how it keeps finding its way into Bone?
JS: Oh, yeah, I'm a huge Moby Dick fan. And you don't want me to talk about it. [Laughs.]
O: Are the running gags, where Fone Bone talks about Moby Dick and everyone falls asleep, taken from personal experience?
JS: Oh, yes. Sigh.
O: Is this upcoming story arc going to be the end of the Bone series?
O: What will you do after that?
JS: I don't know. It'll take me between three and five years to do the last three large books, and I can't think past that. I do have another project coming up with Paul Pope. He's one of my dearest friends in comics and one of the best cartoonists working today, I think. He's known for doing these oversized books, and we're going to do one together. It's going to be called Big Big, and we're each going to do a self-contained 40-page science-fiction story in it.
O: Have you started work on it yet?
JS: We're still talking. We're pretty much committed to the idea, but we're not sure what the plan is. We had talked about 2001, but we're still in the planning stages. But it's fun. That's something I want to do before Bone ends, so I can do stuff like that after it ends.
O: Have you ever considered doing a comic about Boneville itself?
JS: Not really. Maybe in the beginning I did, but once I started getting feedback in the letters... That's the interesting thing about doing comic books that come out as a serial: Every time an issue comes out, there's this communal discussion of the issue on the Internet and in the letters, and it's a very different way of progressing in your story than just doing a novel and putting it out. I realized that everybody had their own vision of what Boneville looked like. It was their own little world that they had created, whether it was Duckburg or some fantasy place. I could never draw a Boneville that would match everybody's ideas, and maybe I shouldn't. Maybe I should just let everybody make up Boneville, and Boneville will just be something inside everybody. I decided, "Why don't I just leave it at that?"
O: People often cite Walt Kelly's Pogo as one of your primary inspirations, partially because Fone Bone looks something like Pogo. Do you think the connections run deeper than that?
JS: I think on a slightly deeper level, I learned a lot from Walt Kelly about giving characters personalities, about making them personalities that talk to each other. I learned a lot from reading Pogo about how to make Albert sound like Albert, how to make Churchy sound like Churchy, how to make Phoney Bone sound like Phoney Bone and Gran'ma Ben sound like Gran'ma Ben, if you follow me. But beyond that, they're very different comics. Walt Kelly was much more interested in allegory and politics, and I'm much more interested in metaphors and myth.
O: What would you like to do with Bone in the next five years that you haven't done so far?
JS: Well, I need to wrap up the story. [Laughs.] And there's some good-fun-wow stuff coming. I mean, it's all building up to it. The only thing I'm dreading is that there's a lot of characters and a lot of the story ahead, so I've got to bring everyone together.
O: If you could go back in time and talk to that kindergartner drawing Bones in the margins of his schoolwork, what would you tell him?
JS: Erase it! Quick! [Laughs.] No, I think that little kid would be
happier than a pig in shit. Because I'm still that kindergartner, and I'm
still sitting here doing it.
2003 JEFF SMITH INTERVIEW
By Alexandra DuPont, published in July 2003
Q: Are there any truth to the reports that Nickelodeon wanted you to aim the story more squarely at kids?
Yes. Of course. I guess in some ways that's to be expected. But the
truth is, we - meaning myself and the Character Builders and Vijaya - pitched
Nickelodeon a fairly complete story idea. You know, we had big art boards
made up, big beat boards, and we pretty much showed them the movie that
we wanted to make - which would have been: The Bones get into the valley;
they meet the princess; they're in the cow race; and they defeat the rat
creatures. Very simple, straightforward movie.
Q: It would have set up a sequel if necessary.
Yeah. We had an ending in and of itself, but we could have gone on to finish the larger story in a sequel if it was warranted.
Well, we got into the meetings - and like immediately, they just wanted to change everything. They wanted the Bones to be voiced by 6-year-olds - by children. They wanted to change the ending. They wanted the mood and tone of the story to be much more kid-friendly. And, I mean, we had talked about all this beforehand, so I was a little surprised.
For me, the famous moment was the suggestion that Fone Bone could have
"magic gloves" so he could make things grow.
Q: Are those the green gloves that the Fone Bone figurine packaged with the color issue #1 is wearing?
Yes. Those are the magic gloves. He has one scene in the comic when he was wearing gloves because he was helping Thorn garden - and that just happened to be a picture that some of the licensees had picked up on and used a lot. So that became kind of the iconic drawing of Fone Bone, where he had these little gloves on.
Anyway. They said, "He should have magic gloves on so he can make things
grow!" And I said, "He's not Jesus Christ! Come on!" [laughs]
Q: Oh, that's painful.
So it was a bit like negotiating through a swamp.
Q: Any truth that they wanted a Britney Spears-style pop song?
No, they didn't want a Britney Spears-style pop song - they wanted a Britney Spears song in the film. And I like Britney Spears; I like pop culture; I like Madonna and Michael Jackson as much as anybody else. - but I had a very different kind of a film that I was trying to make.
And in the late '90s, I was really adamant that there would be no songs in the movie - because all animated feature films seem to have these awful formulaic songs. I think that's a law somewhere - "Animated film for kids? Put some crappy songs in it!"
Like when we pitched Warner Brothers while we were in Annecy. They took us out on a boat and were really wooing us - until I got to the point where I said, "I need it in writing that there will be no songs." And it was pretty much, "Swim back to shore." [laughs] That was it. That was the end.
But Nickelodeon did agree to no songs. In writing. So this pop-song
thing was probably the turning point in the whole affair for me; this was
about a year-and-a-half in. I mean, we had a great time with Nickelodeon
- they were a lot of fun, the actual executives that we worked with. I
really liked them. We would go to New York, where Viacom is, or we would
go to Paramount, and we always had a wonderful time. But one day after
lunch we sat down ... and the executive there turned to me and said, "Okay.
We can get $12 million right now if we put a pop song in the movie. So,
Jeff - do you see somewhere in the body of the film where we could put
a Britney Spears or an N'Sync song?"
Q: Oh my God.
And I just turned and looked at Vijaya, we looked at each other, and I said, "No." I mean, that's not the kind of movie that we were making. I mean, you wouldn't put a Britney Spears song in the middle of "The Empire Strikes Back" or the middle of "Lord of the Rings". And because Vijaya had insisted that clause be in the contract, they couldn't force me.
Things went downhill rapidly after that. I think I became, instead of
"the director and the writer," I suddenly became "the creator who was being
too protective of his little baby."
Q: "The person they had to wrest it from."
Yes, yes. I was being too sensitive.
Q: Did you ever have a moment where they said, "You're being too sensitive, Jeff"?
Oh, of course. [laughs] They were trying to be very gentle with me because
I was the creator and I didn't want to see my babies hurt. They didn't
see me as a filmmaker with a vision - at least not after I turned down
12 million dollars. [laughs]
Q: So basically, it ate up your time, it bore little fruit, it was frustrating. Did this further validate your decision to self-publish?
Well, let me go back and say that I didn't think it was that frustrating, and I didn't think it was a waste of time. I enjoyed the experience quite a bit, and it was not all Nickelodeon's fault; part of it was my own inexperience in the system. If I could go back in time and do it again, I would have sat down first thing and storyboarded the movie that we had all agreed on to begin with. I didn't know to do that then. I didn't know - I kept thinking there would be a moment where someone would say, "Okay - start now." Do you know what I mean? So I actually thought it was a pretty good experience. I got to learn a lot about Hollywood; I got to learn a lot about story structure. In Nickelodeon's defense, they found weak points in my story - and they held my feet to the fire until I screamed and figured them out. And they ultimately did agree to a contract that allowed me to keep my rights when it didn't work out. That isn't the juicy part of the story to tell, but that's the truth.
And also, everything I do affects my comics. So not one bit of that
was wasted time. I mean, it was a gamble - I could have lost my readership
in comics - but that didn't happen. What was the other part of your question?
Q: Did this further validate your decision to self-publish?
In a way, yeah. I mean, it has been our experience - Vijaya's and mine
- that "Bone" only works when we
do it ourselves. The syndicates were interested in "Bone" as a comic strip,
but ultimately they couldn't sell it the way we wanted to do it - and the
same with Nickelodeon.
Q: What are the chances that you'll revisit the film deal after you're done making the books?
Well, I'd like to, to be honest. But will I get to? I don't know. It might be one of those things you just get the one shot at, so who knows?
But my plan is when the comic book is done, and while I'm finishing
up "Captain Marvel," I plan on putting together another script. And I got
a lot of calls from other studios and producers once I left Nickelodeon,
and I tried to be polite and say, "Well, you know, I'd like to finish the
book; can I call you back later?" So we'll see. I have a lot of phone numbers....
Maybe the time will have come and gone. We'll see.
Q: So if I'm hearing you correctly, next time you're going to basically do what Peter Jackson did with "Lord of the Rings" - he basically had the whole movie storyboarded in advance. He showed the cast the whole film in storyboards with temp-track voices.
That's exactly right. And my understanding is that quite a few directors
do that - Miyazaki, for instance - not just Peter Jackson. I mean, they
see the movie in their head.