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article imageAwsome Welles: actor’s voice set to feature in new movie

By Andrew John     Mar 26, 2010 in Entertainment
Rare voice recordings of Orson Welles, the filmmaker and movie star, will be used in a new movie about Santa Claus's dog, it has been revealed.
Originally, according the Hollywood Reporter, Christmas Tails was a book by Robert X. Leeds, which he self-published more than 25 years ago. Shortly before his death in 1985, Welles – who was a friend of Leeds – narrated the story, making five reel-to-reel recordings, and the recordings have remained stored ever since. Now, Drac Studios are to produce a film using the recordings.
Drac Studios, best known as a makeup and special-effects shop, supplying for movies such as 2008’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, starring Brad Pitt, are now moving into fully fledged production themselves. Matt Thompson has written a screenplay based on Leeds’s book, and Todd Tucker (Monster Mutt) will direct Christmas Tails as a 3D live-action/CG hybrid.
“It’s a movie about how Santa’s dog saves Christmas, but, on one level, this is a story about the discovery of Orson’s lost tapes,” Drac president Harvey Lowry said. “This is a substantial find. It’s something that a filmmaker dreams of.”
Lowry was discussing another project in 2008 with a colleague, Karl Fritz. In passing, Fritz mentioned a rumour concerning Citizen Kane actor Orson Welles’s “lost tapes”, believed to be his last professional recording. Eventually, after contacting Leeds, the writer confirmed the tapes’ existence to Lowry and sent them to his offices. On hearing Welles’s distinct tones, Lowry then began brainstorming. The tapes were so old, they had to be put through a chemical bath and baking process before they could be digitized.
“We worked out a deal to option the book, and I got the recordings from him,” Lowry said. He had their authenticity verified, then approached Welles’s estate for permission to use them.
In Christmas Tails, Santa’s reindeer fall ill, forcing him to consider cancelling Christmas. Meanwhile, his dog gathers other canines in the North to help save the day.
Drac will create the dog heroes using its expertise in animatronic movie animals, and a fantastical North Pole using computer graphics. The team – Lowry, Tucker, Ron Halvas and creative director Greg Cannom – has already won Oscars for Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mrs. Doubtfire and Benjamin Button, and was nominated for James Cameron’s Titanic and Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, among others. Leeds will serve as a consultant on the movie, and Fritz will be an executive producer.
Welles’s voice will be interspersed throughout the movie, much in the way Boris Karloff’s voice was used in Chuck Jones’s and Ben Washam’s 1966 animated version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
Drac Studios have already fielded interest from actors based on word of mouth about the project alone. “People see this as their last opportunity to act in a movie with Orson Welles,” Lowry said.
The movie is due to shoot in the summer or autumn, with a projected Christmas 2011 release.
More about Orson welles, Christmas tails, Voice recordings, Drac studios, Brad pitt
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