It can also be a kind of a coming-of-age moment, the moment where you realize that there are different perspectives, that maybe what’s important to you might not be important to somebody else, or how to see things from the perspective of another is something that happens especially around the age of Elmer who’s just heading into his teenage years.
I love that dynamic and I love the relationship that Elmer has with Boris the dragon because we worked really hard to not ever really let them know what’s around the corner. And sometimes they only have each other and they can only rely on each other as they try and navigate the world. With this film, we didn’t really want to have an ending where Elmer got everything he wanted, or we didn’t want to let it be that Elmer had special powers or anything like that. We really wanted to have a mortal child, a real child at the center of all of this. And if the film has strength, that that’s where it is.
It’s that relationship that helps Elmer understand why it was hard for Elmer’s mother to tell him the truth about what was going on. He becomes responsible for Boris and so he understands what it is to be responsible for somebody else.
Yes, and he’s compromised as well. At times in the film, he’s not particularly truthful and he does things maybe for good reasons but maybe not great things. So I just love the fact that in a family film we could get all of that nuance into the characters. And not just Elmer and Boris but the secondary characters as well. Like the character of Saiwa is someone who is not a one-dimensional bad guy or anything like that. He has real responsibilities. And he’s just trying as are we all. So I just love the idea that we could explore all of these kind of different types of personalities or different ways of dealing with the world of Wild Island and that we’ve got a chance to explore that for the film.
It always interested me that the story is about Elmer but it is told by a child who is not even near to being born at the time of the story. What is the advantage of that as a narrative matter? Why is it called “My Father’s Dragon” and not “My Adventures with a Dragon?”
This film is really inclusive. So we want the film to work for everyone, very young children to people who are much older and might have experienced a lot of things in their lives. There are a lot of layers to this story. The idea that we begin and end the film with this wonderful, mature voice of Mary Kay Place who voices Elmo’s daughter, there’s a sense that ultimately things are okay. That Elmer grew up to be a good dad. He raised a daughter who sounds like a lovely person. And there’s a sense of a warm hug about that.