Oh wow - better than Shawshank Redemption or Spider-Verse?? That’s crazy talk!
I loved working on the first film (my reel is here if you’re interested) - Chris and Dean wrote the entire story in about a month. The studio spent 7 years trying to develop the book into an animated feature with no success. They finally decided to hire the two of them a year before the film was supposed to come out. They rewrote the entire thing from scratch in a month and then we animated the entire thing in 9 months (9 months of 6 days a week!).
Dean was a Blake Snyder fan - he’s even pictured in one of Blake’s books (the Save the Cat! paradigm). The first pitch he gave to us at the studio was basically the 16 beats of Save the Cat with really awesome drawings. Dean made no attempt to keep his preference for structure a secret and was happy to talk story structure anytime. In fact, we had a lecture by Guillermo Del Toro one day where Del Toro said he hates structure and can’t stand anyone who brings it up, and then the next day Dean got up on stage to say, well yeah, you might hate it - but here’s how well structured your films are
The interesting thing from a Dramatica/story structure point of view is this:
Chris and Dean worked together to write the first film–and you can see it, especially when you compare the it to the later films in the series.
The first film is a complete story, with all four Throughlines accounted for - logically concise and emotionally fulfilling. Dean took care of all the Overall Story stuff, Chris took care of all the subjective emotional stuff.
After the first film, the studio split them up to work on different projects because obviously, that’s what you do when you want more and more success
Dean made the next 2 Dragon films without Chris and it shows - little to no, or confused, subjective story. GREAT objective story.
Chris went to work on Croods - little to no, massively confused, objective story. GREAT subjective story.
It’s really fascinating to see how it all played out. They both saw each other’s blind spots and were able to come together to create something quite wonderful. True collaboration.
The films they did apart are great examples of what happens when you don’t account for all Four Throughlines in a narrative.