‘Ron’s Gone Wrong’ roundtable: Director Sarah Smith, producer Julie Lockhart and writer Peter Baynham [WATCH]

“Setting up a studio, working for the first time with our digital partners, throwing in a bit of Brexit, throwing in a huge pandemic, it wasn’t easy,” says Julie Lockhart, one of the producers of the feature animated film “Ron’s Gone Wrong.” The science fiction comedy is the first film to come out of Locksmith Animation, a British CGI animation studio founded by Lockhart and her Aardman Animations collaborator Sarah Smith. It is now available to stream on Disney+ and HBO Max.

Smith co-directed and co-wrote “Ron’s Gone Wrong,” which tells the story of Barney, an awkward middle-schooler and Ron, his new walking, talking, digitally-connected device. Ron’s malfunctions set against the backdrop of the social media age launch them on a journey to learn about true friendship. Lockhart, Smith and co-writer Peter Baynham recently joined Gold Derby for a fun roundtable panel to discuss the making of the film that stars Jack Dylan Grazer, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms and Olivia Colman. Watch the full panel video above.

Baynham has received two Oscar nominations for scripting “Borat” and “Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm.” He draws interesting comparisons between the Kazakh TV talking head and the pet-like digital toy, Ron. “Well Ron’s not really anti-Semitic,” Baynham clarifies. “And he doesn’t tend to wear mankinis and say awful things. But they’re both idiots. They’re both clown characters. When Sacha (Baron Cohen) originally started out he started clowning. So he always talks about this theory, ‘any more stupid and you die.’ Both Ron and Borat have that. They ask questions. They’re like a little kid. They ask why?”

“I think it’s relatable because it’s us, and our families, and our kids and our issues in the film,” Smith adds. “It’s actually a school movie and animation really hasn’t done school movies. Technically, it’s crazy difficult. You have giant crowds and I also wanted every kid in the crowd to have their own b*bot and to move like kids. For us as parents, with families, school is the biggest thing that hits your kid. It absolutely overwhelms them. It’s their massive life experience and it throws them into this popularity contest. You go to school and twice a day you have to go out in the yard and say, ‘Who wants to play with me?’ On top of that they have devices and internet groups.”

“Ron’s Gone Wrong” is eligible for the 2022 Oscars as Best Animated Feature and is one of only seven films on the BAFTA longlist of animated contenders for 2022 voting.

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