10 Lives – What happens if a cat loses his ninth life?

Directed by Christopher Jenkins, from a screenplay by Jenkins, Karen Wengrod & Ken Cinnamon, with a Story By Karen Wengrod & Ken Cinnamon Ash Brannon, Ernesto Matamoros and Leland Cox, a pampered cat takes for granted the lucky hand he has been dealt after he is rescued and loved by Rose, a kind-hearted and passionate student. When he loses his ninth life, fate steps in to set him on a transformative journey.

When he carelessly loses his ninth life, with no lives left and faced with the inevitable, Beckett pleads for things to be back to how they were. At first his request is refused but in a moment of exceptional empathy, the ‘Gatekeeper’ has a change of heart and allows him to return to earth with a whole new set of lives. What he doesn’t realize immediately however is that each of these new lives will see him return in a variety of different forms…each one teaching him a valuable & timely lesson. It is a journey that sees Beckett turn from gloriously self-absorbed pet to a self-sacrificing hero; because sometimes you must travel many different roads to find the very best version of yourself.

Christopher Jenkins has contributed his talents to an impressive roster of projects during his 30-year career in animation, producing, writing and directing. With 14 years at Walt Disney Feature Animation under his belt, Chris has animated on such movies as Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, The Lion King, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, and Atlantis. Joining Sony Pictures Animation in 2002, Chris played a critical role in launching the division’s inaugural film, Open Season. He was assigned to Surf’s Up next, writing, producing, and – in the process – inventing animated mockumentary. Surf’s Up rode the 2007 Awards Season wave culminating in an ACADEMY AWARD nomination for BEST ANIMATED PICTURE. Chris subsequently produced at Blue Sky animation from 2009 to 2010, molding the story for Rio, before he returned to Sony to invent many characters and scenes that would become integral to Hotel Transylvania. In 2011 Chris joined DreamWorks Animation, where he produced the short Almost Home. At Original Force Animation in 2015, Chris wrote and directed Duck Duck Goose. As of August 2018, the movie had become a runaway hit on Netflix, with over 10 million downloads in the first 30 days. Chris is currently writing and directing several productions, including Extreme Elephant for SQUEEZE ANIMATION.

What was the biggest inspiration behind this film?

Initially, my lifelong love and constant menagerie provided the inspiration for a cartoon about an arrogant cat who becomes many different animals. The humor of one cat’s attempt to remain aloof
under all circumstances kicked it off, but the deeper message, the connection all pet owners feel to their animals brought the story into a far greater focus. The animals we bring into our homes are only here a short time but our lives are massively changed by their presence.

Films are lasting legacies, what do you want yours to say?

Many messages of hope come through this story of a cat who encounters multiple chances at living a
‘better’ life. The message of this movie is quite simple really; ‘you only have one life, so live it well and
love better.’

Describe who you want this film to reach?

10 Lives has something for every family and generation to watch and enjoy together. Having said that,
the selfish joy I have in seeing younger children laugh until they fold over is without measure. Being able
to reach that kind of uncomplicated glee is sheer magic.

Why does this story need to be told now?

On the surface, seeing a cat deal with the ignominy of being other ‘lesser’ animals is great comedic fun.
On a deeper level, I believe that at a time of such cynicism as ours, 10 Lives unabashedly tugs on the
heartstrings and raises a message of unselfish hope.

How do you want people to feel after they see your film?

When audiences leave the cinema I would like them to feel emotionally warm, humorously exhausted,
and ready to go back and see it again.

Your favorite part of making the film? Memories from the process?

This is a hard question because there are so many great memories, very much including ALL the cast
records. But I think that rewriting the story to take place in England (which I desperately miss), and with
an English cast of brilliant actors, was a dream come true.

What was a big challenge you faced while making this film?

It was a massive creative challenge to pre-plan everything in such a way that there would be no cost
overruns. While re-writing the movie I had to both imagine what would be great to see, then fight with
myself over what could be achieved within our relatively small budget. However, when all’s said and
done, the kind of poetry of small choices ultimately led to a movie that tells a beautiful story without
trying too hard to impress with fireworks and special effects. This is unusual for animation.

Tell us why and how you got into filmmaking?

I grew up in Wales, the Western part of the United Kingdom. Mam & Dad’s terraced Miner’s Cottage
was surrounded by coal tips and mountains. Though the coal mines were being shut down one by one,
the landscape remained a black and white world, so when I discovered animation at the local cinema,
the technicolor world of movies opened my eyes to something ‘beyond.’ At the same time my father’s
storytelling brought humor and narrative into focus, and my mother’s smiles at my never ending supply
of new drawings encouraged me to keep making things. Later, as an art student studying illustration in
London, I happened to be in the right place at the right time when Walt Disney Feature Animation were
hiring for Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

I’m an illustrator by training and nature. I became an effects animator because of chance, but found a
delight in what you can think of as giving life to the metaphorical ‘snow globe’. On Little Mermaid I
animated many bubbles, crashing waves and heavenly rainbows. On Beauty and the Beast I found
delight in storms and lightning. Aladdin brought the chance to animate magic, fire and lava, and on
Hunchback of Notre Dame, I created a dancing fire Esmarelda. This fantastic Disney training ground
remains in all of my work, which is to say that atmosphere in storytelling & movies is all-important to
me. I had no real training as a writer, but ever since I sat on my Dad’s knee to listen to his wonderful,
colorful, and exceptionally funny stories, the desire to write my own screenplays has been a constant

If you weren’t a filmmaker what would you be doing?

I’d be making guitars from a small wood shop somewhere in Oregon.

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