Gnomeo & Juliet 1

Back in 2002, Disney Animation Studios began to develop a film about lawn ornaments based on William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet called Gnomeo & Juliet. It only had a few people doing some visual development and storyboards as they tried to explore this idea that I heard had been brought to Disney by Elton “Lion King” John.

Gnomeo seemed to be one of those pictures that was a little under the radar with not many in the studio showing interest in working on it yet. I saw it as a possibility for a lot of comedy which was right up my alley! Maybe it would be a way for a young eager Disney employee to get his foot in the door of actual production work. So, with the encouragement of the acting producer in those early days, I started submitting some gag drawings hoping to get on the film.

The idea of lawn ornaments from rival yards in a feud with each other just rang a bell in my head for some reason. I knew yards that had been chock full of ridiculous sculptures and whirly-bobs. So much humor could be derived from the drama of warring “families” combined with the crazy decorative contraptions coming to life.

With Gnomeo & Juliet opening Friday, February 11, I thought I’d share a few of my 2002 gag proposals with you that still make me smile. I’ll post something new each day this week up to Friday. I never did get invited to work on the film, but then again, Disney didn’t actually end up making it in-house either. It was shelved for a few years, then resurrected up in a studio in Canada.

This is the first of many pieces I submitted (created with pencil and Photoshop). It was also the first piece of art I did that was hung on a development board in the hallways of Disney. That alone was unbelievably encouraging.

Gnomeo & Juliet art
Remember those lawn ornaments that looked like a girl bending over? Thought it was ripe for comedy with these nervous garden gnomes.

Come back again tomorrow to see another of my Gnomeo & Juliet submissions!