HARDY HOWL FILMS (formerly Blue Yonder Films) first made their splash into the film industry at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival with Todd Edwards’ directorial feature debut Chillicothe, an ambitious live-action comedy about the challenges of post-college adulting.
Following the Sundance success, one of the film’s investors agreed to finance Todd’s next movie on the condition that it be animated and based on a classic. Taking the challenge to heart, Todd hatched HOODWINKED! — a zany “Rashomon” take on the classic Red Riding Hood tale. Recruiting his brother Cory to co-write and ultimately direct the film with him, it would go on to make box office history and pave the way for a massive wave of independent animated films vying to emulate the smash hit.
With great voice performances from Glenn Close and Anne Hathaway, the fractured fairytale also had a winning soundtrack. “It was a real coup to land Ben Folds, a world-class platinum artist—when he agreed to record Todd’s song there was an exciting feeling in the camp that this project was on its way to greatness” recalls Timothy Hooten, whose involvement with Hoodwinked! comedy punch-ups and soundtrack were a fitting precursor to the thriving creative partnership he and Todd enjoy today.
Producer Katie Hooten had been working at Disney Feature Animation on such films as Atlantis, Lilo & Stitch and Spirited Away — and once her brother Todd secured financing for the feature she left her post to join the producing team.
“We only had nine people on our U.S. production team,” Todd recalls. “Katie held down the fort in Burbank while much of the team flew back and forth from the Philippines and Mumbai during production.” Says Katie, “Hoodwinked! was fueled by an ambitious vision to compete with the major studios and though it had limitations visually, the story holds. It’s amazing how many people continue to tell us that it remains one of their favorite family films—including one of our directing heroes Danny Boyle who counts Hoodwinked! among his favorite animated movies.”
After Hoodwinked! the company thrived with multiple script sales and feature projects, including story work and a re-edit of the hit TMNT (Ninja Turtles) movie for Warner Brothers and Luc Besson’s Arthur and the Invisibles. As comic fans, the team relished the opportunity to write The Marvel Experience, a traveling technology/new media immersive show featuring Marvel’s iconic characters. More recent creative partnerships with The Jim Henson Co., Ian Bryce Productions, Reel FX, Madhouse Entertainment and UTA, among others, have led to a vast array of Film, TV, AR/VR and ancillary projects written and helmed by Todd and Timothy.
Additionally, Katie’s work as a producer with Blur Studios and director Tim Miller (Deadpool) and as Previs/Postvis producer at The Third Floor has applied her expertise in the VFX world on films such as Thor: Ragnarok, Spiderman Homecoming, the Steven Spielberg VR collaboration Raising a Ruckus, and more recently, a highly-anticipated release for Netflix. She’s also expanded her creative horizons as a screenwriter, landing a deal with Barry Josephson to adapt a modern comedic take on a beloved classic with a strong female voice.
With their new slate of projects, the team feels strongly positioned to pair their irreverent, playful and whimsical storytelling sensibilities with stunning visuals for today’s sophisticated audiences.
"The immediate horizon is very exciting,” adds Timothy. “Whereas Hoodwinked! leaned mainly on the comedy, taking a more simple approach to the aesthetic, we’ve now raised our technical and visual game exponentially, partnering with an uber-talented team of domestic and international animators and artists. It’s the best of both worlds.”