Berk's Grapevine

Latest Dragons

Name a Dragonvine Dragon!



At the end of Dragonvine, Bayana befriends and teams up with the two newborn Silkspanner dragons that were found earlier by Hiccup, Astrid, and Gobber. But unlike most of the dragon companions in the Dragon universe, these two hatchlings don't yet have a name!

What do you think Bayana should name his two Silkspanners?

Now is your chance to make your mark on the Dragon world by helping Richard Hamilton, author of Dragonvine, to name these two dragons! If you have some dragon name ideas — whether they are cute, interesting, unusual, or hilarious — don't keep your name ideas a secret!

Share your dragons names with us, and we'll pass the names along to Richard Hamilton to make a final Silkspanner naming decision. And if your dragon name is cool enough, maybe you will be able to tell your friends that you named a How to Train Your Dragon dragon!

Submit Your Silkspanner Names Here!

Share your ideas by October 19


Multiple submissions are encouraged, so send all the names! Even the ones you think are boring or silly. (But please keep in mind that we have already submitted Silky McSilkface.)

What dragon names did you submit? Share them in the comments!

Headlines and Dragonvines: Richard Hamilton Interview



Thank you for sharing your questions for Richard Hamilton, who has contributed in a multitude of was to the Dragons universe, including writing graphic novels The Serpent's Heir and Dragonvine along with Dean DeBlois and writing for Race to the Edge.

In this interview on Dragon Academy Dropouts, Richard Hamilton answers the questions you submitted, talks about the process of writing graphic novels at DreamWorks, and discusses:

Hints about the plot of the next graphic novel, The Fire Tides,
The backstory of Bayana, his tribe, and their encounters with Drago,
What it was like working with Dean DeBlois and on Race to the Edge,
Hiding "dragon eggs" for The Hidden World in the graphic novels,
Advice for becoming involved in graphic novel writing and illustration,

...And many more answers to questions you asked!

Thanks, Richard Hamilton! We also discussed a very special opportunity for fans to contribute a little bit to the Dragons universe themselves. Stay tuned for more details!

Berk's Grapevine at NYCC: The Hidden World



Looking forward to the How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World panel at New York Comic Con this year, but couldn't get your badge in time to attend? Do you have any questions that you wish you could ask to Dean DeBlois or the mysterious special guests who will show up?

We've got you covered: Berk's Grapevine will be at the NYCC panel!

Just like we did for TIFF, we're planning on sharing a detailed discussion of exactly what happens during the panel, including a description of the new clips from the film that will be shown. DreamWorks has also teased that special guests will be attending. During the previous panel at TIFF, director Dean DeBlois and producer Brad Lewis were joined by an unannounced guest: Jay Baruchel!

Who do you think will be the special guests at NYCC?

Do you have any questions for Dean DeBlois, or maybe a question for someone you think will be a special guests? Ask your questions below in the comments, and we'll do our best to get answers for a couple!

Have a question for Dean DeBlois (or special guests)?

Write your question in the comments below!



Event Description (via NYCC)
Welcome cast and filmmakers from DreamWorks Animation’s HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD. Get ready to rediscover Toothless—the King of all Dragons—as he meets a potential girlfriend and journeys alongside Hiccup to a hidden world you thought only existed in myth. Writer/director Dean DeBlois will be joined by special guests as he reveals all-new footage and brings us deep into his surprising tale about growing up, finding the courage to face the unknown, and the most unlikely of friendships—one that’s spanned the lifetimes of both the Night Fury and the chief of Berk.

UPDATE: It looks like Dean DeBlois is already here in New York City along with F. Murray Abraham and Brad Lewis, where they are recording the final lines for Grimmel! See his Instagram posts below:

View this post on Instagram

The stage is set...

A post shared by Dean DeBlois (@dean.deblois) on

Sneak Peek of The Hidden World's Music


Each of the dragon films comes with new musical themes, composed by John Powell. Wondering what the themes of How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World will sound like? John Powell just released a piano version of one of them! Listen above!

What do you think of the new theme? Where do you think it will be used in the film?

Now you can tell your friends you've heard parts of The Hidden World's music before anyone else! John Powell says he will release a second version of this theme next week — still a software instrument mockup, but this time fully orchestrated — so follow John Powell on Instagram and stay tuned!

Hidden World Revealed: DreamWorks Dragons at TIFF



This article is a comprehensive write-up of the How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World screening event at TIFF 2018, including a detailed description of the three clips shown from the film, and a discussion of the film by director Dean DeBlois, producer Brad Lewis, later joined by Jay Baruchel, the voice of Hiccup. The event was moderated by Cameron Bailey, TIFF artistic director.

Warning: The rest of this article contains spoilers.



"Separated in a Way the Audience Won't Hate Us For"



Hiccup and Toothless bonding in the third film's trailer.

It is challenging enough to create a film that an audience will fall in love with in the theater. But it is even more challenging for a film like How to Train Your Dragon, which has built up a large and passionate fanbase over the last last eight years through films, TV series, shorts, and graphic novels.

Dean DeBlois describes dragon fans as "very vocal and fervent," who are skilled in finding ways of reaching out to the creators behind the film, and telling them their thoughts. While they do listen to fans, he said, it is most important as a filmmaker to follow your gut. This includes taking storytelling risks, such as the death of Hiccup's father at the end of Dragon 2 or the loss of Hiccup's leg at the end of Dragon 1. The weight and significance of these story choices have come to define the style of the Dragons films, and we can most likely expect something of similar magnitude within The Hidden World.


The crew meeting with Cressida Cowell during production of the third film.

In particular, DeBlois discusses meeting with Cressida Cowell during the end of the first film, when she was still finishing her final book in the series. He mentions being excited with how she had decided to end the series by explaining why dragons were no longer around. Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders had decided early during their work on Dragon 1 that the story of the films should diverge from the story of the books. However, even though he and Cowell pursued different stories, DeBlois mentions his fondness for the first line of the books, "There were dragons when I was a boy." Contained within this line was potential for a bold, daring, and deeply impactful story not just about dragons — but about how their two leading characters, Hiccup and Toothless, must eventually and inevitably be separated forever. DeBlois mentions ET, Born Free, and Fox and the Hound as examples of films that are ambitious and take similar risks with characters and storytelling, but do so in a way that "the audience won't hate us for."


"Start Ruling Like a Proper Royal Couple"



Hiccup and Astrid from the third film's trailer.

Both Hiccup and Berk have changed substantially between Dragon 2 and Dragon 3. During the first two films, DeBlois said, we have seen Hiccup-the-nuisance "blossom" into Hiccup-the-Chief. However, Berk is far from the dragon utopia described by Hiccup in the narration of the trailer — DeBlois describes their way of life as "unsustainable" with far too many dragons being rescued from dragon hunters and being brought back to Berk. Gobber, in particular, is not so thrilled with this new arrangement. He does not appreciate how Hiccup is constantly bringing back new dragons. Instead, he wishes Hiccup would focus more on Berk, its people, and issues at home. In an embarrassing moment for everyone, Gobber tells Hiccup and Astrid that they should "hang up their saddles and start ruling like a proper royal couple."

Both of them object to different parts of Gobber's idea, as we see in the second scene of the following clip.


CLIP 1: Baby Hiccup Flashback / Leg Fetch


This clip starts with a flashback to a time before Dragon 1. We see a young Hiccup, only a couple years old, held in the arms of his father, Stoick. This scene, reminiscent of The Lion King, shows Stoick and Hiccup looking out across Berk. Stoick describes to Hiccup how one day he will be chief and Hiccup will inherit the job of protecting the island. Stoick talks about a "hidden world," an "old mariners' myth" about where dragons come from. Stoick says that someday he will find the hidden world and seal it, ending the war with dragons. He promises that he will protect Hiccup and Berk from the dragons, including Night Furies, which are especially terrifying to young Hiccup.

A fan illustration of the young Hiccup flashback sequence.

After the flashback scene, the clip transitions to the present day. We see a rocky island similar to Itchy Armpit from Dragon 2, where Hiccup and Toothless have landed after Gobber has told Hiccup and Astrid to get married. In this clip, we see Toothless practicing gliding on his own, though he is not able to fully fly yet without Hiccup. Hiccup takes off his leg and throws it off the edge of the island cliff. Toothless, like a puppy, dives after it to retrieve it several times.

Astrid, as usual, is able to find Hiccup in his brooding island — likely with the help of Stormfly. She and Stormfly land next to him and they tiptoe around the discussion of marriage and the future of Berk. Hiccup carefully asks about marriage, Astrid says that this is also silly and that they are nowhere near ready to be married. Hiccup very quickly agrees with her that the idea is crazy. Too quickly — Hiccup seems more interested in the idea of marriage than Astrid is.

Hiccup changes the topic to finding the hidden world, recalling the moment shared with his father during the flashback scene. He proposes moving all of Berk and its dragons into the hidden world so that they no longer face threats from the outside world. Astrid dismisses this idea, mentioning how Berk has survived for generations, and that Stoick lived and died to protect Berk. In her mind, moving to the hidden world would be impossible and out of the question.

When Hiccup turns the discussion back to their marriage again, suggesting that Snotlout is still available if she is no longer interested in him, Astrid jokes that Snotlout "only has eyes for [Hiccup's] mom," and that because of this, there may be a wedding after all. Hiccup is playfully outraged and foolishly initiates a wrestling match with Astrid, which she easily wins by simply twisting Hiccup's arm. Hiccup and Astrid hear a distant sound, and Toothless chases after it. Toothless glides away from them into the distance, accidentally leaving Hiccup stranded on the island. "Yeah, don't bother to wait for us!" Hiccup calls out.


"Somewhere Between Animation and Live Action"


One goal of the lighting and art design in the Dragon films is to add a sense of realism and depth not always present in animated films. By doing so, dangers the characters are placed in feel even more real to the audience, action becomes more vivid, and the stakes of the story are raised. DeBlois notes that during the Dragon films, he hoped to avoid standard tropes of animation such as animals that can talk and dragon flames that have minimal effect on their subject other than giving them "crispy hair."


Hiccup's hair is not crispy in this screenshot from the first dragon film.

The previous clip contains scenes from both the present and a flashback to the past, and we see two very different styles of lighting and design during each sequence. After the clip is shown, Brad Lewis discusses the use of "aggressive" lighting and artistic choices within the clips and the influence of Roger Deakins, who consulted with cinematography on the film. In the past, Deakins has worked on the film throughout its production, from initial conception of color choices, times of day, and general appearance of scenes in the film to providing shot-by-shot guidance on lighting, later in the production of the films, as if working on a live action set. DeBlois says Deakins' work places the Dragon films "somewhere between animation and live action" in how the world looks and feels.


"The Third Film is About Letting Go"



A very sad Toothless from the trailer of the third film.

The three dragon films track with Hiccup's coming of age, each representing "universal crossroads" in Hiccup's life. In the first film, Hiccup learned to "be yourself and let the world change around you." However, as Dean DeBlois expanded Hiccup's story and universe after the first film, he realized that Hiccup had everything he wanted at the start of the story: he is respected by his tribe, has earned his father's trust and admiration, has gained a friendship with Astrid and the other dragon riders, and has the coolest dragon known to Vikings. Something had to change. In the second film, Hiccup steps into adulthood, where Stoick's death acts to push Hiccup out of his comfort zone and learn to take responsibility for his tribe. By doing so, Hiccup defines himself against his two parents, showing us who he is and proving himself as a leader in his own right rather than relying on Stoick and Valka.

The third film represents yet another point of growth for Hiccup, and a universal rite of passage for us: The Hidden World is about letting go. DeBlois touches on a particular aspect of this: letting go when allowing others to pursue their own destinies. Though unsaid, he is likely referring to Hiccup's relationship with Toothless as he discovers his new role with the Light Fury in the hidden world. The Light Fury is a dragon subspecies related to the Night Fury. While at first, Hiccup is eager to welcome the Light Fury into the Berk dragon collective, the Light Fury is only interested in leading Toothless back into the hidden world with her, the place where she and Toothless ultimately come from. Unlike Toothless, the Light Fury has no interest in living with humans. She is given no personal name in the film other than "Light Fury," DeBlois says, because they wanted to keep her wild.

This is a challenge for Hiccup — in the first two films, Hiccup's strength has always come from Toothless. As Toothless pursues his destiny with the Light Fury as a leader of the hidden world, Hiccup must come to terms with the fact that he has no place in the hidden world, and no role in Toothless' future. DeBlois describes Hiccup as needing to overcome the "neediness" of his relationship with Toothless. However, at the same time, pressure is mounting as Hiccup must face external challenges in the form of Grimmel, the villain of the third film voiced by F. Murray Abraham, but this time without the support of his dragon.


"The Strength of Astrid Sharpens Hiccup's Sword"



Astrid sharpening Hiccup's sword during the film trailer.

Brad Lewis discusses how Hiccup and Toothless are both placed in leadership roles, though neither of them is born to be a leader. It is only through others who are natural leaders that these two characters find their strength. For Hiccup, this is Astrid. And for Toothless, we learn that this is the Light Fury. In this film, it is the strength of the female characters — Astrid, Valka, and the Light Fury — that form the "backbone" of the story. Or as Brad Lewis describes it, "the strength of Astrid sharpens Hiccup's sword."

Dean DeBlois mentions the importance of female characters in this story, and how important he finds it to write women who are interesting and play dynamic roles in his stories, whether in Dragon, Mulan, or Lilo and Stich. In particular, it seems that the dynamic between Astrid and Hiccup will be especially critical in this film, as well as the parallel relationship found betwen Toothless and the Light Fury. In many ways, Astrid will be the support that Hiccup never knew he had. She is someone who Hiccup can rely on when, in the past, he may have turned to Toothless.


CLIP 2: Courtship Ritual



Hiccup prompting Toothless during the courtship ritual.

The moments in the Hidden World trailer of Toothless wooing the Light Fury in are from this sequence. Before this point in the film, we have seen the Light Fury several times, but only briefly. This sequence is the first major interaction between Toothless and the Light Fury.

The sequence starts in the middle of the night. Hiccup and Toothless are asleep in a tent within a larger tent camp — this is in the middle of their quest to find the hidden world. The Light Fury has a special ability to fly through a ball of her own fire, turning her scales transparent and causing her to disappear against the night sky. She enters the scene outside the tent camp, invisible, but still casting a shadow on Hiccup's tent. Toothless wakes up (disturbing Hiccup's sleep) after somehow being alerted to the Light Fury's presence, and sneaks out after the Light Fury.

For the first time in this clip, we see the Light Fury. When invisible, the Light Fury's skin still slightly displaces her background, allowing us to see her shape and outlines against the rest of the scene. When the Light Fury "cools off," her body slowly appears. She becomes visible not slowly and uniformly, but with a rippling effect starting at her head, where a discrete line separates her fully visible and fully transparent skin moves and across the rest of her body as she appears.

The Light Fury has decided to sneak into the tent camp to lure Toothless away from the sleeping Vikings and perform a courtship ritual. She leads him to the sandy beach shown in the trailer and begins courting Toothless. Toothless, having spent much of his life living with Hiccup and unschooled in the ways of wild dragons, is not particularly good at this. Unfortunately, neither is Hiccup, who seems to have started following Toothless at some point, and pops up in the bushes behind Toothless and out of sight of the Light Fury. Hiccup seems to recognize what is happening and starts prompting Toothless with a variety of cool dragon moves. Hiccup's cool moves are not good enough for the Light Fury. Her face displays increasing worry for Toothless, and Toothless becomes increasingly frustrated with Hiccup's prompting.


Toothless drawing for the Light Fury using the broken branch.

The remainder of the scene closely mirrors the Magic Hour / Forbidden Friendship sequence in the cove from Dragon 1. The Light Fury, disgruntled, moves away from Toothless and flies onto a nearby branch. She grabs it with her tail, tucks her wings around her body, and starts to sleep bat-like on the branch. Toothless, still prompted by Hiccup, crawls into the branch and starts hoping up and down, eventually breaking the branch and falling. After following Hiccup's advice and repeatedly failing, Tooothless gives up on Hiccup and chooses a strategy of his own. He grabs a branch in his mouth and begins to draw in the sand of the beach. When we see the drawing, it is immediately obvious as a line drawing of the Light Fury's face. She likes it. "Oh, now you can draw...," Hiccup mutters.

However, while Toothless is able to glide on his own in the previous clip, he still isn't able to fly on his own when the Light Fury flies away. Toothless takes off and attempts to follow the Light Fury, but crashes into the water. We see Hiccup, watching, scheming, thinking about building Toothless a new tail.


"Let Your Ears Get Carried by Music..."



In the process of scoring the film, via John Powell.

This courtship scene in the previous clip is entirely nonverbal, with the exception of Hiccup's single line and the occasional dragon vocalization. All clips shown at TIFF used temporary music. Until John Powell's score is finished and recorded approximately a month from now, existing music from other sources, such as previous Dragon films, is used for animation and editing. This clip's scratch music was primarily Forbidden Friendship, with a couple other cues from the first film mixed in at the beginning and end of the scene. Jonsi will also return, says DeBlois, and is working with John Powell to create new music for this film. It sounds as though Jonsi's music will have a special role in crafting the musical atmosphere of the hidden world.

Dean DeBlois and Brad Lewis discuss the advantages of animation as a visual medium, allowing them to design nonverbal scenes like these much more easily and expressively than in live action. Lewis talks about the scriptwriting process, and how initial scripts written by DeBlois contain "dialogue direction for what the Light Fury and Toothless are thinking," which is used as reference by the story team as they transform the dialogue into expression and actions by the characters. The music by John Powell plays an especially important role in scenes like these. Though the scene fit well with the structure of Forbidden Friendship scratch track, it should be interesting to see the scene again with the final music.


"Stoick's Beard Was an Accomplishment Itself"



Stoick's incredible beard, via Sandy Tie Dong, surfacing artist and beard expert.

The Hidden World also benefits from major improvements in animation technology at DreamWorks. Dean DeBlois and Brad Lewis talk about how some elements of producing animated films are especially hard, such as fur, hair, sand, water, clouds, cloth, and fire. These materials are either particle systems, or require modeling careful interaction of many small, discrete objects to prevent collisions. Over time, these challenging effects have become easier. DeBlois says that in Dragon 1, "Stoick's beard was an accomplishment itself" and he "wanted to have a wrap party just for the beard." But even in The Hidden World, fire is challenging: shots that contain flames (many, given that this is a dragon film) take substantially more time to render.

DreamWorks has a history of introducing new software into their pipeline for the Dragon films, and The Hidden World is no exception. Dragon 2 was the first film to use their new animation software, Premo, and lighting tool, Torch. The Hidden World has its share of new technologies as well, including a new back-end renderer called Moonray. DeBlois discusses how much power this new system gives them in bringing to life scenes that would have been previously considered too challenging — even scenes that during the production of the second film, would have had to be scaled back because they contained too many characters or complex effects. But at the end of the day, a film like this relies not only on technology, but people. In addition to this, Brad Lewis adds, they are lucky to be working with a crew of nearly three hundred incredible artists working every day to bring The Hidden World to life.

(If you're interested in the technology of The Hidden World, watch a recent talk by Andrew Van Pernis on Moonray, Premo, the difficulties of animating dragons, and R&D at DreamWorks Animation!)


"A 360-Degree Niagara Falls"



The caldera entrance to the hidden world.

The hidden world is the ancestral home of dragons, a enormous cavern of "endless tunnels" that is teeming with both dragon and non-dragon life. From the start, the hidden world was imagined as being far grander than any other dragon-inhabited land from the other films. It's much larger than the caves of the Red Death from the first film, and even more spectacular than Valka's dragon mountain from the second film. The hidden world is not just a single cave, but a massive series of interconnected caves spanning the entire world and connecting all dragons living in it.

While the hidden world is intended to be awe-inspiring, it's also firmly rooted in biology and physics. Dean DeBlois first imagined the hidden world in a dream as a hole in the sea. To match the real-world physical style of the Dragon world, this early vision of the hidden world transformed into a caldera of an undersea volcano, described by DeBlois as "a 360-degree Niagara Falls." As we've seen in the first glimpses of the hidden world in the first trailer, the environment under the sea is open and spacious, decorated with stacks of crystals, stalactites and stalagmites. The hidden world is packed with colorful life, including mushrooms, bioluminescent fungi, and something similar to sea coral that is able to live in the open air environment. DeBlois mentions the technical difficulty of lighting the hidden world, with massive its stacks of crystal scattered across the underground environment, but also the challenge of creating an unreal, fantastical landscape using realistic lighting.


"Be Back by Eleven!"



Grimmel, the villain of the third film, shown in the trailer.

Although Toothless is able to glide on his own, he still cannot follow the Light Fury into the hidden world without Hiccup — and bringing Hiccup on a date would be weird! Hiccup, not one to make it weird, builds Toothless a new tail that seems similar to the one in Gift of the Night Fury. Hiccup's new tail fin for Toothless works by mirroring the movements of the existing fin.

With his new tail fin, Toothless is finally sent off to follow the Light Fury. Hiccup seems to have several motives for this. He hopes that Toothless is able to pursue his relationship with the Light Fury and possibly bring her back to live with the Vikings. But it seems that he also may be hoping that that Toothless will help them find the hidden world, which he has been searching for without success. After all, Toothless has a history in the Dragon films of exposing previously unknown dragon lands. And with external pressure from Grimmel increasing, Hiccup is running out of time if he wants to find the hidden world.

Hiccup believes Toothless will return soon. Dean DeBlois compares Hiccup sending off Toothless to a parent sending a child off for a first date, expecting them to "be back by eleven!" But days pass and Hiccup waits, and Toothless does not return to Hiccup. Becoming increasingly worried about Toothless, Hiccup recruits Astrid and her dragon, Stormfly, to track down Toothless to bring him back.

This is how Hiccup and Astrid discover the hidden world in the following clip.


CLIP 3: The Hidden World



Hiccup and Astrid flying into the hidden world to find Toothless.

Hiccup and Astrid fly across the ocean on the back of Stormfly as she tries to track down Toothless. After soaring across miles of water, with Hiccup about to give up hope, Stormfly leads Hiccup and Astrid to the caldera entrance of the hidden world. Stormfly, always one to show off, dives with a barrel roll into the waterfall, and they enter the hidden world.

Still tracking Toothless, Stormfly and her riders soar through the undersea caves of the hidden world in a sequence that was partially shown in the first trailer. Hiccup and Astrid are surprised and relieved that the hidden world does exist after all. As they travel through the hidden world, we see through a cavern with large collections of eggs that was shown briefly in the trailer. As Stormfly flies through this cavern, the eggs begin to glow in a wave of illumination that follows the the dragon and her riders.


Shots from the trailer of Hiccup, Astrid, and Stormfly tracking Toothless.

Hiccup spots Toothless from a distance, between pieces of hidden world coral. He is hovering around the Light Fury. Not wanting to spook the two dragons, Hiccup and Astrid have landed, hidden behind a rock, so Toothless and the Light Fury cannot see them. The two dragons land on a large rock placed in the center of the massive cavern in which Hiccup and Astrid are hiding.

Toothless, as alpha, seems to be the leader of the hidden world, alongside the Light Fury. Toothless motions for the Light Fury to follow him onto the rock, as the other dragons in the cavern take notice. Together, dragons across the cavern seem to bow toward the cute dragon couple, vibrating their wings and bodies.

Interspersed between shots of Toothless and the Light Fury are shots of Hiccup and Astrid in hiding, watching. Although the majority of this scene is nonverbal, it is clear that the two Vikings have very different reactions to what they are watching. We see Astrid's expression: she is overjoyed that Toothless is together with the Light Fury, king and queen of the hidden world, that Toothless is the "alpha of dragons, celebrated by the multitudes," in the words of Dean DeBlois. She whispers to Hiccup, "Now that's a king!"

However, though Astrid is smiling and happy, beside her Hiccup becomes increasingly distressed. His heart is breaking as he watches, realizing that he may have lost Toothless. It is clear to him that Toothless has formed a special bond with the Light Fury and the other dragons of the hidden world, and now has a new role in the hidden world. Toothless is their leader, a role similar to Hiccup's on Berk, and a role of which Hiccup recognizes the importance and responsibility. In these interspersed shots, we see Hiccup realizing that he does not belong in the hidden world, that he does not play a part in Toothless' life there, and seems to feel guilty by intruding into the hidden world to find him.

Nearly crying, Hiccup whispers to Astrid, "We should go." But as they are about to leave, a Rumblehorn behind them spots them, and sounds the alarm. The rest of the dragons in the cavern turn to look at Hiccup and Astrid. Seeing the two human invaders, the dragons start charging toward them. Toothless spots and recognizes Hiccup and Astrid. He flies toward them and picks them up in his claws, pulling them away from the dragons descending on them. Toothless flies toward the entrance of the hidden world, looking angry, while Hiccup apologizes to Toothless.


"Wait, is Hiccup Canadian?"



Jay Baruchel at TIFF 2018, via DreamWorks.

It turns out that Jay Baruchel was there all along, hiding.

After the third clip is shown, Baruchel is invited onstage to answer questions about his role in the films. Asked about how unique his voice is and how perfectly it fits the character of Hiccup, Baruchel apologizes for how he sounds. "For whatever reason, Dean — God help him — wanted Hiccup to sound like me."

Now that his work on the film is complete, Jay Baruchel reveals a secret that he kept since the very beginning of his work on the dragon films: he's been intentionally making Hiccup's voice sound as Canadian as he could. Since day one, Baruchel said, "I'm going to make Hiccup sound as hoser as I can possibly make him without getting in trouble."

Cameron Bailey, TIFF artistic director and moderator of the event, asks if Hiccup is actually Canadian.

"I mean… he's not not Canadian…," Baruchel replies.

DeBlois tells us about a day working on Dragon 2, recording lines for Hiccup. Someone in the recording studio asked Baruchel to repeat one of his lines, but to say "sorry" with an American accent instead of a Canadian accent. Baruchel immediately shot back — "Oh? Were the Vikings Americans?"


Jay Baruchel recording for Hiccup in the third film, via Jay Baruchel.

When Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders took over How to Train Your Dragon late in its production and begin their full rewrite of the story, most of the cast had already been decided, including Jay Baruchel. However, in early versions of the film, Hiccup was written as a much younger child. Baruchel was told to change his voice to make it sound much younger. Jay Baruchel describes his younger Hiccup voice as "dreadful" and "my voice, only more nasal," and gave a demonstration. His description was accurate.

DeBlois calls Hiccup a "kind of a beta leader," with the same self-deprecating personality and mannerisms as Baruchel, but also someone who is kind, intelligent, and "ahead of his time." DeBlois tells us that, because Jay Baruchel has played Hiccup for so long in Riders of Berk, Defenders of Berk, and Race to the Edge, Baruchel often has a better sense of the character than he does. When recording, Baruchel is an expert in tweaking the original lines of the script to add a little more Hiccup flair to the dialogue, finding ways to make DeBlois' words sound even more like Hiccup.

Baruchel talks about his acting history and how it led to his voicing Hiccup. His first jobs were in dubbing French language films and television shows to English when he was twelve years old. He describes how dubbing is "boot camp" for voice acting. Dubbing requires not only skill in acting, but requires speaking in a way that matches the preexisting lip movements of the person on the screen. Eventually, this incredibly boring and difficult part of dubbing becomes instinctive, Baruchel says. For this reason, moving from live action to animation was not very challenging — in fact, much easier than he expected: Baruchel was thrilled when he found out that animation occurs after recording, no lip sync required by him.


"I'm Personally Allergic to Sequels"



Dean DeBlois at TIFF 2018 via DreamWorks.

DeBlois and Lewis talk about the importance of creating family films that truly speak to everyone, rather than talking down to the audience. Instead, successful family films should treat children with respect, and share with them the same level of storytelling and honest emotion we all expect from films without holding back or condescending. Kids are smarter, understand more, and more emotionally capable than we think, Lewis says. As one example, DeBlois mentions the death of Stoick in Dragon 2 and how important this event in Hiccup's life as a guidepost, and as a way to thrust him into the role of a leader. DeBlois discusses losing his own father when he was 19, and how it "forces you into adulthood quicker." Though these emotionally challenging scenes have the potential to upset audiences, they are critical for telling important, powerful, and worthwhile stories — and are part of a tradition in the Dragon trilogy.

DeBlois says he never considered a fourth or fifth Dragon film, and that the story was always intended to be told in three acts. The first film was never made with a sequel in mind — given the time pressure, simply creating a working film telling a single, complete story was the goal. But after the success of the first film, an opportunity to expand Hiccup's story arose. DeBlois says that although he is "personally allergic to sequels," he saw this as an opportunity to explore the parts of Hiccup's story that were left unanswered in the first film. With this final film, he says, the story of Hiccup and Toothless will come to a close, and that they will end this story with "the most epic conclusion we can."



Toothless attending TIFF 2018, via @httyd on Twitter.

What are your thoughts on the TIFF 2018 dragon event? What would you most like to know about The Hidden World? If you weren't there and have more questions about what the discussion and clips show, leave a question in the comments below! Also check out our post-TIFF highlights, shared on @httyd!

Dragonvine Discussion, Interview Richard Hamilton!



Have you picked up your copy of Dragonvine yet? If not, you can grab your instant digital copy on Amazon (or a slightly less instant, but potentially more fun physical copy) before reading the rest of this article!

First, if you liked The Serpent's Heir and Dragonvine and want to see further development of the Dragons graphic novel universe, you need to make your voice heard so that we are able to see the third graphic novel in the series, The Fire Tides! The story is outlined, but needs a green light from Dark Horse and Universal to begin production.

The graphic novel universe is a special and unique bridge between Dragon 2 and The Hidden World, showing how Hiccup learns to become the chief of Berk, how the other dragon riders grow and develop, how new characters like Valka and Eret integrate themselves into life on Berk, and how Berk itself physically changes over the time period between the films. According to Richard Hamilton, The Fire Tides has some special moments in store: a new dragon called the Fathomfin, important new characters moments for Astrid, a "Viking Atlantis" that sounds a bit like a hidden world analog, a reveal of Valka's backstory between leaving Berk and meeting Hiccup in Dragon 2, and shirtless Hiccup!

Whenever you can, make sure to let DreamWorks, Dark Horse, and NBC Universal know how much you want to see the Dragons graphic novel series continue with The Fire Tides and possibly beyond, and how lucky we are to have this part of the dragons universe!




Dragonvine continues Hiccup's journey of becoming the chief of Berk that started in The Serpent's Heir. In the latest graphic novel, Hiccup's meets a new tribe that has also been affected by Drago, forced to move from their homeland and set up on a new island.

Though Dragonvine was drawn by two different illustrators, the graphic novel fairly successfully blends their different styles, transitioning from Doug Wheatley's highly detailed and carefully composed scenes to the energetic and action-packed panels of Francisco de la Fuente. This worked well in the context of the story, where Doug Wheatley's illustrations from the "burning midnight" section at the beginning was based on storytelling prior to the main action of the graphic novel, which was passed along to Francisco de la Fuente.

One of the unexpected highlights of Dragonvine was Hiccup's new outfit ("stylishly jacketed in a mystery," according to Tuffnut). In our discussion with Richard Hamilton, he describes this as one of the unique advantages of the medium -- being able to play with costume changes. Indeed, Hiccup's costume change is a reference to the running joke in animation that characters never change their clothing. But not Hiccup! It turns out, our protagonist wasn't lying about making outfits since he's made a new one in for almost every medium a dragon story is told! I believe we all agree with Tuffnut: he does indeed look very stylish.

We also see more of Valka and Eret in this story. Because these are two characters new to Berk in Dragon 2, it's especially interesting to see how they interact with the main dragon riding crew and become increasingly integrated into Berk over time. Eret in particular had a large role in this story, as did his poor dragon, Skullcrusher, the subject of repeated and completely unfair teasing by Tuffnut. (We love you, Skullcrusher, keep on crushing those skulls.)

Also building from the story told in The Serpent's Heir, we see Astrid taking on even more of a leadership role beside Hiccup: not as a chief, but as more of a general. We don't get to meet Astrid's parents in the graphic novel, as some had speculated. However, we do see her interacting with both Stoick (in a flashback prior to the story) and Valka, and see how much they appreciate her as "the spirited warrior who keeps watch over all of Berk, including our son."



It is increasingly clear after the Hidden World events at Annecy and TIFF how much The Serpent's Heir and Dragonvine are setting up the world of the third film. We see Berk and the rest of the world changing, but we also see the relationships of the characters changing. This is especially true for Hiccup and Astrid as leaders of Berk, which increasingly seems to be a critical relationship to the story of The Hidden World, and parallels the future relationship between Toothless and the Light Fury.




What did you think of Dragonvine? What was your favorite part?

We're sure you have questions and comments about Dragonvine, the process of writing graphic novels, and how the graphic novel series bridges the events of Dragon 2 and The Hidden World. And who better to ask these questions to than Richard Hamilton, the author of the graphic novels himself?

In addition to writing The Serpent's Heir and Dragonvine alongside Dean DeBlois, Richard Hamilton was also a writer on Race to the Edge, the creator of To Berk and Beyond, the author of several other graphic novel series for Trollhunters, and recently has started his own series, called Scoop.

Submit your questions on Dragon Academy Dropouts

by Sunday, September 23 at 12 p.m. ET



You can also submit your questions in the comments below, or upvote questions you want to hear!

(And yes, according to Richard Hamilton, the title "Dragonvine" is exactly the reference you may have suspected, intended as a subtle nod to this website and community of dragon fans reading the story!)

Berk's Grapevine at TIFF: The Hidden World



How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World will be at the Toronto International Film Festival, and Berk's Grapevine will be there live-tweeting whatever happens on @httyd!

The behind-the-scenes look into the third film will be at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto on September 15 at 4 p.m. The screening and following Q&A will contain 1 hour and 35 minutes of dragon content, giving us a peek at what we will be seeing later this year. Here's the official event description, via TIFF:

Director Dean DeBlois joins us to discuss the narrative of the trilogy and to introduce new clips from the latest installment. The discussion, featuring producer Brad Lewis, will also touch on the animation process and will be followed by a Q&A session.

If you can make it to Toronto on September 15, tickets are still available! You can buy up to four tickets per person on the TIFF Ticketmaster page. We can't wait to meet up and watch dragons together!