Our writer Jennifer D. visited DreamWorks to learn more about the movie How to Train Your Dragon 2. She was a guest of 20th Century Fox & DreamWorks Animation, but her opinions are her own.
During my visit to the DreamWorks Animation campus to learn all about the making of How to Train Your Dragon 2, a common theme came up. I heard the sentiment “follow your dreams” from writer and director Dean Dublois, from Production Designer Pierre-Olivier Vincent (known to all as POV), and others throughout the day.
Is it because they work at a place called DreamWorks? Is it because they are creative-types, more focused on heart pursuit as opposed to practical matters?
I thought of another reason why these people in particular might be thinking about encouraging dreams. They’ve just spent years working on a movie that is about a young adult Viking named Hiccup. He’s trying to figure out who he wants to be and how he’s going to get there.
POV says this: “This is a growing up story. This is a story of this adolescent that has make big choices in his life. I think all the parents here today can relate to those difficult choices we all have to confront.”
What do we have to confront? Are we going to encourage our children’s dreams? When she shows talent at a sport, are we going to make sure she has the right gear and the right lessons to succeed? When singing makes him happy, are we going to make sure he pursues it, even if it’s not a popular choice?
The first How to Train Your Dragon movie focused on Hiccup being so different from his big burly Viking dad Stoick. Five years have passed, and Hiccup has developed an impressive skill set, but he’s still balancing his desires with his dad’s expectations.
The flying scenes that he and Toothless have are amazing. Look at that light. Look at the sky. Incredible. But flying means freedom, and that theme wasn’t lost on me. Hiccup is trying to be free, trying to pursue his dreams, but also trying to be honorable and respond to his sense of duty to his father and to the town. This is the crux of the sequel.
This is Hiccup’s mom. Doesn’t she look encouraging? How will she change or impact Hiccup’s pursuits?
As parents, we are important to our children. They want to please us, yet realizing that they have dreams of their own is so key to helping them mature into who they were created to be. But it’s hard. When they aren’t like us, we don’t always understand. When they are too much like us, we see our weaknesses in them.
But as those who work at the place with dream in the title said, “We must figure out what makes their hearts beat and encourage them.” POV described his own calling this way:
I was 17. I went to art school in France, started thinking about a career. There were a few clues, I was drawing all the time, but when I told my mom “I want to do comic books,” it wasn’t a great day.
When you see a child taken by something — it’s a gift. You have to take their passion and recognize it.
Maybe I heard this rhetoric because I as a parent am trying to balance encouraging my daughter’s heart with the practical. What is her dream? It’s animation. It’s what these people do. And they all — every one of them — brought up the expense of art school, which is what she is considering in just two years when she graduates from high school.
As a parent, what gifts and passions do you recognize in your children? How do you decide what sacrifices are the right ones to make — sacrifices of time, of other interests, of money?
I’m not sure what my daughter’s future holds. Will she achieve her dream to create stories for others through animated art? I don’t know if she will or not, but what I’m learning is that I can’t be the dreamkiller. I’m encouraging her, both in word and in action. We’ll be visiting art schools, and we’ll explore a lot of options, and when the time comes, if she gets into her top pick dream school, we’ll decide if the great expense is worth it.