Wes Anderson Talks Fantastic Mr. Fox - RT Interview

The director on moving into stop-motion.

by | October 21, 2009 | Comments

RT Interview: Director Wes Anderson on Fantastic Mr. Fox

Wes Anderson, arguably the godfather of the quirky American indie thanks to the likes of Bottle Rocket and Rushmore, takes his first steps into the world of stop-motion animation this week with the release of Fantastic Mr. Fox. Based on Roald Dahl‘s classic children’s book, it’s the tale of a wily fox and his adventures thieving food from three of the meanest farmers around; Boggis, Bunce and Bean.

With a stellar voice cast including George Clooney, Bill Murray and Meryl Streep, the film received its world premiere last week at the London Film Festival. On the eve of its global rollout, RT sat down with Anderson to learn more about his passion for Dahl and making the switch to stop-motion.


Fantastic Mr. Fox

[tomatometer]MuzeID=1197696[/tomatometer]

Why did you want to do this book, particularly?

Wes Anderson: It was the first [Roald Dahl book] I ever owned and I particularly thought the digging was something nice for movies. I loved the drawings that were in the book I had. And I do love this character. Beyond that it was just one that hadn’t been done, and it seemed like a great chance. I love stop-motion where the puppets have fur, and with all the animals I thought this would be a good opportunity to explore that.

You spent some time while you were writing in Roald Dahl’s hometown, what was that like?

WA: The place where we went is called Gypsy House, which he bought later in his life, but it’s where he wrote many of his best-known books. Mr. Fox was written there, certainly. We were interested in the idea that we wouldn’t just base it on the book; we’d base it on him. He’d written memoirs for children — which is an odd thing, not many people have written autobiographies meant for children — so from that point of view we were always very aware of him and aware that kids reading his books didn’t just know the books, they knew him. We tried to get as much of his personality into the character, and we also had his manuscripts. In fact, we had the manuscript for Fantastic Mr. Fox, which had a different ending which we used in the movie. That’s a great luxury — to be able to say, “Here’s an idea we can use — it’s not in the book, but it’s from him.”

We came to set in April and we noticed you’d donated some of your suit fabric for Fox’s costume — did you identify with that character specifically?

WA: Not particularly. The reason I used the material from my suit was that I really liked it, and I thought he’d probably like it too. I just thought Corduroy might be good for Mr. Fox!

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Rep_Caption_03_String

You’ve blended your style of filmmaking with Dahl’s style of storytelling — did you find it was a comfortable fit?

WA: Yes, but for me I didn’t, in advance, have an idea of how I expected it to turn out. I knew I wanted to do it in stop-motion and I knew I wanted the animals to have fur — to not be Plasticine or something like that. I wanted it to be autumnal and originally I thought I wanted there to be mud everywhere and it wouldn’t be very colourful. That stayed — not the mud, but there’s almost nothing blue or green in the movie. I thought it would be nice with this sort of handmade feeling. What it really ends up like is the result of a thousand little decisions rather than one overarching thing.

Me and the production designer, Nelson Lowry, tried to design things one way or another but what we figured out was that the more realistic we could make things the happier we were with them. If I was travelling I might see a building or something and I’d take a picture on my phone, send it to Nelson and we might change something about it but we tried to base it as much as we could on research and photos and things. The style is set by how authentic can we get it. How realistic can we get it to look with our resources in miniature, and that’s the look of the movie, basically. Given that the grass is going to be made of towelling and the smoke will be cotton wool, that’s the range, I guess, that we’re working in.

Continue onto page two as Anderson discusses his use of back-to-basics animation techniques and the challenge of working in animation.

RT Interview: Director Wes Anderson on Fantastic Mr. Fox


Fantastic Mr. Fox

[tomatometer]MuzeID=1197696[/tomatometer]

The animation is really pared back to basics; you’ve embraced the “invisible wind” effect of animators’ fingers on the puppets’ fur.

WA: Yeah, animators always think that’s a bad thing, like it’s bad form. But I think they really got into it on this one. They became comfortable with it because there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it. Also, the stop motion I’ve loved was always a bit primitive — King Kong and the Brothers Quay — you see these objects that you recognise and you’re very aware it’s handmade. The other thing was that, to me, it was more important that the animation have energy and personality and be funny. I wanted it to be fun and upbeat rather than perfect. This kind of animation is particularly suited to that — we can work more quickly if that’s our goal and we can focus on it and make it our priority. I don’t think we could have made the movie if it had been a Coraline level of precision and smoothness. It would have been a $100m movie rather than the $30m we ended up spending.

Did you enjoy exploring the world of animation and figuring out those particular challenges?

WA: It was great. What’s nice is there’s a chance to invent. Everything there is an opportunity, because you can’t just say, “Oh we’ll use a table that we find.” You have to make one. Everything is manufactured, so everything is a chance to see, is there a way to make that funny, to connect it to a character or to find some sort of motif. Also, because it moves so slowly, every aspect is in slow motion, so things kind-of develop.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Rep_Caption_03_String

Presumably you don’t have the luxury to go back and make changes after a certain point in that process because of the time involved in animating shots. Do you have to make all of those decisions ahead of time?

WA: You certainly try to. If something is going really wrong during a shot, then we’ll stop. Sometimes you can find a place — you can go back a bit and say, “OK, let’s take it from frame 63,” and they’ll rearrange everything and try and make it match and sometimes there’ll be a little bump when you see it, which is OK, it’s not the end of the world. But to go back three seconds may mean to go back two days, depending on how many puppets they’re moving around. It’s a big deal and definitely something you want to avoid. Also there are other solutions a lot of the time. It could be adding another shot or ending a shot early, or we can try something with sound or add some elements we can composite into the shot. There are always different possibilities.

Fantastic Mr. Fox arrives in UK cinemas on Friday. It has a limited release in the US on 13th November and comes to Australia on 7th January 2010.

Tag Cloud

Syfy psycho Horror Comic Book renewed TV shows what to watch SundanceTV transformers elevated horror black comedy CBS All Access SDCC Mary poppins Spectrum Originals Travel Channel Summer Paramount Plus TV ViacomCBS TV Land Chilling Adventures of Sabrina tv talk Teen A24 spanish DGA Comedy telelvision venice Sony Pictures Cannes Best Picture Ellie Kemper Apple TV+ science fiction Superheroe Netflix Christmas movies Mudbound crossover ESPN CMT crime drama sitcom summer preview The Walking Dead sports social media Showtime Britbox Lifetime crime 2019 See It Skip It Disney streaming service docudrama Apple TV Plus game show Comedy Central sequel universal monsters LGBT Warner Bros. Fox News superman Hear Us Out foreign YouTube Red all-time SXSW new zealand aliens werewolf dark TV One TCA Winter 2020 archives young adult fast and furious E3 biography spy thriller teaser 93rd Oscars Election Writers Guild of America Schedule The Academy ITV halloween AMC Columbia Pictures IFC Films Pet Sematary Vudu twilight streamig doctor who VOD Hollywood Foreign Press Association football Trophy Talk obi wan technology binge Podcast movies Dark Horse Comics summer TV preview a nightmare on elm street parents Lucasfilm Pride Month kaiju DirecTV Reality Competition President SXSW 2022 screen actors guild marvel comics 2016 Endgame new york Video Games political drama adventure comic italian Red Carpet zombie historical drama critic resources Premiere Dates justice league natural history FX on Hulu Best Actress live action cops WGN Marvel Studios Marvel kids olympics MTV women razzies cancelled TV series mutant 2020 book game of thrones YouTube Neflix Countdown GoT Alien batman Tubi politics Tarantino Crunchyroll stand-up comedy police drama Hulu chucky Apple reboot HFPA Cartoon Network DC Comics free movies rt archives Oscars mcc rt labs critics edition Logo ABC Signature royal family 73rd Emmy Awards Polls and Games 2017 NYCC GIFs Sundance Shudder art house versus comic books 71st Emmy Awards rotten action-comedy cats IFC CNN 24 frames south america comiccon Winners christmas movies cartoon war golden globes saw spider-man TV movies live event NBA Toys Nat Geo thriller Universal Pictures TV renewals rotten movies we love posters canceled TV shows comedies BET 1990s genre Reality VH1 richard e. Grant First Reviews die hard Character Guide heist movie Masterpiece Rocketman dexter Awards black breaking bad stop motion Image Comics anime Infographic BBC One dceu crime thriller boxoffice Pop TV serial killer golden globe awards BBC streaming travel comic book movie scary movies Western TIFF television Captain marvel basketball TCA Awards festivals Mary Tyler Moore ABC Family Bravo RT History wonder woman gangster child's play YA zero dark thirty Sci-Fi ghosts Best and Worst zombies 2021 book adaptation new star wars movies FXX aapi singing competition New York Comic Con YouTube Premium debate Holiday The Arrangement prank Best Director directors fresh USA Christmas BET Awards australia video Interview Tomatazos San Diego Comic-Con sequels cancelled TV shows period drama Prime Video halloween tv remakes discovery Ghostbusters Heroines series Stephen King Pop docuseries jamie lee curtis james bond psychological thriller rt labs toronto trailers Amazon Prime slasher Creative Arts Emmys Women's History Month slashers Year in Review Musical anthology 45 HBO spider-verse comics 94th Oscars Broadway Biopics Starz Amazon Prime Video Box Office harry potter based on movie Sneak Peek Musicals blockbuster vs. spanish language blockbusters emmy awards Film NBC Film Festival Hallmark Christmas movies First Look A&E Mary Poppins Returns obituary Kids & Family cancelled USA Network Ovation reviews MCU E! Black Mirror GLAAD dreamworks TLC Winter TV FOX Star Trek TCA 2017 supernatural cults 90s stoner DC streaming service Calendar Grammys Disney Plus award winner nbcuniversal composers asian-american Animation Holidays rom-coms revenge HBO Max BAFTA Food Network criterion Marvel Television PlayStation king arthur Fox Searchlight 99% deadpool Cosplay french Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Universal 21st Century Fox mob 4/20 Binge Guide Disney Channel facebook theme song Disney+ Disney Plus suspense Tumblr Peacock Rocky mockumentary Country The Walt Disney Company comic book movies HBO Go scorecard Elton John hispanic Amazon El Rey monster movies dc Freeform MGM Emmy Nominations Paramount festival franchise OWN APB 2018 Brie Larson Exclusive Video The CW Instagram Live History TCM biopic leaderboard MSNBC 72 Emmy Awards scene in color Classic Film OneApp 007 legend Crackle latino 20th Century Fox Turner Best Actor international Trivia Mindy Kaling WarnerMedia worst movies AMC Plus Academy Awards Action video on demand PBS ID japan Wes Anderson adaptation ABC Anna Paquin National Geographic Arrowverse TBS X-Men independent Baby Yoda animated TruTV adenture Super Bowl trophy Pixar quibi Comic-Con@Home 2021 Fall TV dragons scary concert hispanic heritage month Opinion joker documentaries laika diversity Watching Series boxing name the review Adult Swim vampires FX Superheroes dramedy Walt Disney Pictures Lionsgate Martial Arts Legendary spain Discovery Channel godzilla spinoff hist romance Pacific Islander IMDb TV Marathons 79th Golden Globes Awards jurassic park Drama know your critic Quiz Spring TV blaxploitation Television Critics Association target medical drama Hallmark pirates of the caribbean robots Mystery Trailer VICE The Witch Music true crime Lifetime Christmas movies hidden camera Funimation Tokyo Olympics Black History Month mission: impossible LGBTQ Awards Tour Song of Ice and Fire movie cars Comics on TV Nickelodeon American Society of Cinematographers Tags: Comedy Chernobyl witnail Star Wars nfl miniseries classics sag awards Photos screenings japanese Oscar sopranos Spike cancelled television space 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards superhero Nominations Sundance TV Family unscripted Paramount Network green book Thanksgiving Rock marvel cinematic universe The Purge indie TNT Valentine's Day satire dogs kong king kong Sundance Now Avengers toy story Set visit popular lord of the rings canceled nature CW Seed disaster South by Southwest Film Festival best Rom-Com cooking worst Esquire children's TV Amazon Studios Fargo hollywood BBC America feel good Turner Classic Movies summer TV Shondaland RT21 ratings Epix talk show indiana jones finale Netflix streaming movies Disney films 2015 romantic comedy DC Universe casting Acorn TV PaleyFest strong female leads Television Academy documentary Emmys critics news TCA high school Pirates CBS Fantasy Extras Certified Fresh cinemax