Far beyond the borders of gloomy everyday stereotypes, there is a magical world Yourland, where the ravens act like the men, the building cranes walk like the robots and metal machine wants to rule over the world. Riki has to enter this world to find the truth and save Yourland – his own world. Journey to Yorland is an animated feature film for the whole family. It tells an adventurous story of a boy, who must find his inner strength and understand how the world of reality works. It is not just a fairytale about a magic world full of adventures; its important mission is also to help children coping with the contemporary world and various complex situations life can bring. The children, who similarly to our main character, find themselves in a difficult family or life situation, like a divorce of their parents is, can learn from our story, how to tackle these problems. For parents, on the other hand, the film brings an insight into the soul of a child, showing how children perceive their problems.
Journey to Yourland contains several layers, availing all members of a family to find something of interest in it. We find it very important for the films made for this target group to have deeper outreach as far as the content is concerned.
Riki, a 10-year-old boy, runs away from home, following a mysterious emergency signal sent by a shiny stone. The strange artefact seems to have a mind of its own, it takes Riki to the breathtaking parallel world of “Yourland” where wonderful machines roam golden deserts, monkeys and ravens talk and science peacefully coexists with nature.
Who should Riki share his secret with? His new cheeky friend, Emma? Metal Man, the mighty robot? Tidling, a monkey general? Or nobody? Who can he trust?
The global visual concept is based on the contrast of the two worlds, which is key for the story too. The character coming from the real world have obviously a more realistic look and feel while in Yourland, most of the characters have not typical or common looks or behaviour. There are robots, talking monkey – Yourland Army General – or a Secret Service, represented by huge walking Ravens wearing black coats.
The concept of the sets is based on the same principle. The real world that Riki comes from is inspired by a concrete housing estate built in Bratislava, similar to others all over Europe. The character and atmosphere of these places perfectly fit the situation in which Riki finds himself at the beginning of the story. Yourland is in a giant contrast to the real world. It reflects a never-ending children fantasy, it’s full of colours and unusual textures in places where they can’t be normally found. In Yourland, many things work contrary to the real world, as Riki wants his dream world to stay innocent and untouched by the problems of the real world.
We decided to build our visual on the connection of the 3D CGI world with traditional animation techniques and visual styles. Especially stop-motion is our strong source of inspiration. Stop-motion films and series had a huge tradition and strong position in the former Czechoslovak film industry. Films of Jan Svankmajer, Jiri Trnka or Karel Zeman were always built on the strong and unique visual concept and we want to continue in this way of filmmaking. A new dimension of our project includes the use of a non-usual pipeline that is built on the Unity game engine. Thanks to this approach, we’ll be able to create visuals almost in real-time, avoiding rendering and extensive compositing. This provides the creative team with bigger freedom since it’s possible to change things already done without hours lost due to rendering. That way we’re able to concentrate more on the creative process itself.
Using the Unity game engine as the project technological pipeline gives us also a unique opportunity to easily produce other transmedia projects, using the same assets. The film (and most of the other parts of the package) is made in Slovak-Belgium-Czech co-production, and the classical theatrical distribution will be started in all these countries. Since animated films for children enjoy a great reputation, we believe that our project will be interesting also outside of the co-producers domestic territories. The production of the film was supported by The Czech Film Fund.