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Originally developed as an eight-episode series, the WWI-era adventure “Lucy Lost” will instead hit the silver screen now that Paris-based powerhouse Xilam Animation has retooled the project as a feature. “Klaus” alum Olivier Clert has boarded as co-writer and director, joining BAFTA-winning screenwriter Helen Blankman for a seaside family tale adapted from “War Horse” author Michael Morpurgo’s 2014 novel “Listen to the Moon.”

Xilam has shared this first-look with Variety ahead of the reformatted project’s pitch at Cartoon Movie in Bordeaux.

Set in 1915 in the Isles of Scilly just off the Cornish coast, the film follows a young girl named Lucy raised by a clan of fishermen she knows not to be hers. However, she remembers little else about her past, and as the Great War rages down on the continent, a chance encounter with the mysterious girl her own age soon helps Lucy put back the pieces of her own life’s story and come to better understand her place in the world.

The project’s change in scope also necessitated a change in style as incoming director Olivier Clert worked with the Xilam team to impart a wider visual grandeur.

“At the end of the day, a feature is about the experience you offer to the audience,” says Xilam founder and CEO Marc du Pontavice. “It must be an enormous experience because [unlike a series] you have just that one time, that one moment on screen — and that forces a different approach.”

“We wanted to bathe this story in bright light, with a mix of poetic and epic accents and a very pictorial style,” du Pontavice continues. “We took a certain influence from Japanese animation in that sense, because 3D automatically conveys a sense of realism whereas 2D rendering can convey fantasy just by playing with light.”

“Lucy Lost”
Cartoon Movie

While Xilam continues work on TV commissions like “The Doomies” and “Chip ‘N’ Dale: Park Life” for Disney+ and Zack Snyder’s “Twilight of the Gods” for Netflix, the ongoing contractions in the streaming marketplace – particularly on the family front — have rekindled the French studio’s interest in features and adult animation.

Xilam had a breakout success marrying the two with Jeremie Clapin’s Oscar-nominated “I Lost My Body” in 2019, and so, going forward, the studio plans to launch a new feature each year, alternating between family and auteur fare.

On the adult front, Xilam has tapped ““I Lost My Body” alums Benjamin Massoubre and Fursy Teyssier for “The Wolf,” a dark wilderness thriller based on a graphic novel from “Snowpiercer” creator Jean Marc Rochette; the studio is now lining up additional talent for subsequent features in earlier stages of development.

“We’ve been diversifying as much as possible,” says du Pontavice. “And right now that means expanding into the world of adult animation — a market that has been growing very much these past few years, and that is still very dynamic.”

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