Going global: Queenstown landscape artist Ivan Clarke's Lonely Dog cartoon creation is being turned into an immersive cinematic event


A cartoon creation of Queenstown landscape artist Ivan Clarke is going global.

His Lonely Dog, originally based on paintings set in the fantasy world of Alveridgea, is already New Zealand’s best-selling art brand.

Now it’s being turned by a global partnership into an immersive cinematic event in which, thanks to 360-degree projection and 2D and 3D CGI animation, Clarke’s human-like dogs and cats will come alive.

‘‘It’s 21st century entertainment,’’ he says.

United States-based producer Cliff Dew first encountered Lonely Dog when he saw a poster painting at a licensing convention in Las Vegas three years ago.

He was further captivated after reading the Lonely Dog novel, but then learnt a New York party managed the rights on behalf of Clarke.

A year later, after re-reading the novel, he called the artist’s Queenstown gallery, found he was on a mountain, then got through to him and eventually did a deal.

At the time, Dew was working on an immersive experience, with Italian partners, based on Renaissance art from the Uffizi collection in Italy.

‘‘I woke up in the middle of the night thinking, ‘why don’t we do something like that for Lonely Dog?’’’

Once he got Clarke to understand and agree to the concept, Dew got an investor, then started working on the project.

Back at home: Ivan Clarke with a recent painting, The Shack, and, behind him, his original Lonely Dog painting, Bon Voyage

Currently he’s got a team of 65 based in the US, at Art Centrica in Italy, where the paintings are animated, and at Exodo Animation Studios in Mexico, where the Lonely Dog characters morph into lifelike animated characters.

US-based music director Geoff Pearlman’s also composing songs for the project from lyrics in the novel, plus a musical score, and finding voices for the characters.

Dew says the 35- to 40-minute production will launch in a US venue in the first or second quarter of next year, and travel alongside the Renaissance production.

‘‘Instead of just passively sitting in a cinema, you’ll be able to walk around and feel you’re part of the story.’’

It’ll be like stepping into the paintings, he explains.

Dew’s got no doubt it’ll be a hit — ‘‘it’s the richness of the stories and the characters, it’s unlike all the other immersive experiences out there’’.

Clarke, the project’s art director, has only seen one art immersive in person — the Van Gogh Alive show touring NZ — but has seen others on YouTube.

‘‘When I was originally approached, I’d never heard of an art immersive and it sounded gimmicky, but with what I’ve already seen I’m blown away.’’

Meanwhile, Clarke confirms Warner Bros. originally acquired the movie rights, and in turn chose Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man) to produce it and write the script.

However, Goldsman’s wife died in 2010 and the project lapsed.