‘Book of Life’ Director Jorge Gutierrez Creating Virtual Reality Animated Short

Son of Jaguar_Group - Publicity - P 2016
Courtesy of Google Spotlight Stories

The Book of Life director Jorge Gutierrez is making his first foray into virtual reality with a 360-degree animated short that he describes as a “continuation of the idea of Book of Life … to make you laugh, cry, and punch you in the stomach and make you throw up love.”

Gutierrez tells The Hollywood Reporter that his Son of Jaguar, which is being produced through Google Spotlight Stories, is a story “about Mexican wrestling — the tradition and the responsibility of carrying on the legacy of your culture. In this political climate, I think it’s important to showcase other cultures in our work.”

Like Book of Life — which was nominated for a Golden Globe in 2015 — Son of Jaguar is set in Mexico City on the Day of the Dead, though it features new characters. “It’s a continuation of the idea of Book of Life, that is, being part of something bigger than yourself,” Gutierrez says, adding that he’s “getting the band back together” with his key collaborators on Book of Life, including animation production company Reel FX.

The Google Spotlight Stories program involves filmmakers in exploring storytelling with VR and 360-degree video technologies. "That dream we all have of walking into the movies, especially in animation — virtual reality has given me that. I’m a huge fan of the Spotlight Stories,” Gutierrez says, citing the filmmakers that have previously made shorts through the program, including its creative director Jan Pinkava (Oscar-winning director of Pixar short Geri’s Game) and animation legend Glen Keane (Beauty and the Beast). “This is the Justice League of animation, and I wanted to be the Mexican guy who joins the Justice League.”

One of Google Spotlight Stories’ latest projects, Pearl, from Academy Award-winning director Patrick Osborne (Disney’s animated short Feast), is among 10 animated shorts that recently advanced in this year’s Oscar race.