films seems like second nature to director
so when word went out that he was going to do the stop
expectations were high. And given that it was based on the late
macabre children's author
book made it all the more a film to look forward to. Well, Anderson
didn't disappoint and he's garnered several awards and accolades –
such as a 2010 Oscar nomination for Best Animated Picture – as a
result. Anderson has already won an Annie Award for Writing in a
Feature Production shared with director/screenwriter Noah Baumbach.
dry sense of humor and his odd stance towards dialogue and
relationships, Anderson and co-writer Baumbach have made this much
more than a kid's animated film. Being the auteur he's described as,
this former Texan not only features the voices of such stars as
George Clooney (Mr.
and several others but gave them a freedom to incorporate their own
ideas into the personality of their animated characters. Known for
working with many of the same actors and crew on varying projects,
Anderson has turned that familiarity to great advantage on such a
demanding project as this stop-motion film.
the film was being released, Anderson did a couple of roundtable
interviews from which this Q&A comes.
What was it like writing and collaborating on the screenplay with
Baumbach, who you worked with before as the writer for
Life Aquatic and as a producer on his film The Squid and the
We had discussed it a bit in America and then we met over at Gipsy
House [where Dahl had lived with his family in
Buckinghamshire, England]. I knew that we were going
to add a section to the front of it because the book’s not that long
and so we got set to work there and we quickly realized that where
the book ends it was going to need to keep going after that. We
needed to expand the cast a bit. In the book, Mr. Fox has four
children and they don’t have names, no identities so we reduced that
to one and the visiting cousin. Then we started to come up with
things like that.
What was the biggest misconception you had about animation before
you made this film?
I thought I would make the script, record the actors, draw the
shots, and then I would work with the production designer and make
puppets – get everything sorted out – and then hand it over to a
team of animators who would animate it. I thought that during the
period they were animating it, I might be able to direct another
film and then, when they finished it, I would get this stuff back,
work with a composer and finish it. It wasn’t like that. It’s much
more time-consuming in every way than a live-action movie. There are
so many decisions to be made and for two years [it took up] just
every second of my life… But I loved it. I don’t want my next movie
to be animated, but I would love to do another animated film [some
Do you now prefer stop-motion films or live-action?
It’s fun to me, making a movie like this. Everything’s in miniature,
so you’re not going to find a location. You’re not going to find
props; you’ve got to build them. When you make them, you really do
have complete freedom to decide everything and every single that has
to be made is kind of an opportunity to add something to the movie.
I just don’t concern myself on whether it is too much, whether its
overkill. So for me it was really fun. I think in a live-action
movie, you have different [kinds of things,] where the accidents
come from different places and your location scout and you say “You
know what? We’re not going to this, we’re changing everything.”
In this animated film, you’re able to see the fur move and that’s
intentional. Why did you choose to do it that way?
Part of my idea to do the movie in the first place was not just to
do stop-motion. I wanted textures like that. I wanted that real
tactile feeling. A movie like [Tim
Corpse Bride for instance, every frame is animated. Our
style, it doesn’t move on every frame. If you add the fur motions,
it gives you kind of a rougher… to me a more noticeable stop-motion
You didn’t do the voices in the traditional manner using sound
booths; you actually went outside and shot it live.
Yeah, we went to a farm in Connecticut. It was actually very fun,
and in the end, we got nice sounds – of the wind blowing through the
trees and things like that. Those can be added – we have the
technology – so really, the important thing we got out of it was
[that of] everybody being together. It was a good way to launch it.
Why did you decide to pepper the word
throughout the film? Where did that idea come from?
At one moment we had probably three times as many cusses in the
movie. It was a case of when I felt that it was overkill in the
film. I started the movie as a children’s film. It’s based on a
children’s book and has talking animals. But when we were writing
it, we never paid any attention to that fact.
We just wrote
what we thought seemed funny. It wasn’t something like we were ever
saying, “Will this work for children?” or “At what age will they
understand this, or not understand this?” However, we knew it’s a PG
movie and there were certain things we started to think of.
It was just a way of keeping it PG and… I guess it's pretty obvious.
It was just something that we had thought of earlier on and we were
enjoying it so we thought some other people might too.
Despite the film being based on Englishman Dahl's book, the film has
a very American feel.
It’s a British film by an author who lived there and we made the
film there, so for us it was meant to be a British film. But our
dialogue was very American. We felt like we could be funnier and
more interesting writing American dialogue and it’d be hard to argue
that it’s the wrong accent for British animals. So we just decided
that we would make the humans British, but the animals [not]. Also,
we had people in mind that I wanted to cast and at that point, it
meant that I could use a lot of people that I wanted to use.
What was your visit to the late Roald Dahl's house like?
Yes, it was a long time ago, maybe ten years ago. I had met
Dahl’s wife, in
and she invited me to come to Gipsy House. I knew about the place
from… Dahl has this unusual thing of being someone who has written
all these children’s books, and is famous among children, but has
also written about himself. He has written a couple of memoirs so it
was very emotional for me, very inspiring. Also, he not only
wrote the book there, it’s set there. At that point I was caught up
in the book, so it was a great place to start and that’s why we
ending up writing there, because it was so inspiring. You really
feel his personality in the place.
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