Simon Otto, who previously oversaw the animation production for the How To Train Your Dragon franchise will be making his animated feature directorial debut on Locksmith Animation’s That Christmas. The film, previously titled The Empty Stocking, is currently in development at their studios in London and is based on a trio of children’s books by writer/director Richard Curtis. Curtis is writing the screenplay for the film along with Peter Souter.
The three books in the series (The Empty Stocking, Snow Day, and That Christmas) detail charming family stories that take place in the days leading up to Christmas. According to Deadline, the Locksmith film centers these stories in a small English beach town and interweaves them to create a plot akin to a “Love Actually for kids.”
As for Otto, he not only led oversight for the animation of the How To Train Your Dragon films, but he also played a key role in designing and developing the look of the characters, personalities, and overall style of the animation. He also worked in the story department for the franchise. He won a Visual Effects Society award for Outstanding Animation in a Feature Film for the first movie in 2010 and was nominated again in 2015 for the second film.
Otto joined DreamWorks in 1997 to work on The Prince of Egypt and was also the supervising animator for the hand-drawn and CG animation on other works by the studio, including Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, Over the Hedge, and Flushed Away.
After 21 years, he left DreamWorks Animation to pursue projects involving shorts, series, and features. His most recent work was for Netflix, directing The Tall Grass episode of Love, Death & Robots, Volume 2.