Why did you want to use an old-fashioned animation style?
When you choose an animation technique, it’s all about the story. In this case, the magical realist premise called for stop motion because the miniatures—which are so tactile and textural—lend a sense of concrete reality to the world of the film. You can almost feel the wood of a chair creaking, or the weight of a porcelain mug clinking on a saucer. All of those subtle qualities make the inverted gravity less conceptual and more tangible.
What was the animating process like?
Stop-motion animation is notoriously slow. You can stand in your dark studio working from 8am to midnight and still only finish six or seven seconds of animation. And you can only start that process after every set, puppet, and prop has been built by hand. On this film, we had an art department of about 40 volunteers, and then two animators, including me. The build lasted five months and we were animating for six.
Have you seen the other films in your category?
I have seen “Paperman” and “Fresh Guacamole,” but I haven’t seen “Adam and Dog” or the Simpsons short. Those two don’t seem to be doing the festival circuit. But I hear good things. I’m really happy that stop-motion animation has had such a good showing in this year’s Oscars: out of the five shorts, two are stop motion, and of the five animated features, three are stop motion! It blows my mind thinking back to the 90s, when about three stop-motion features came out in that entire decade!
Will you write a speech?
Of course I’ll write something! I just haven’t gotten to it yet… If the Oscars were tonight, I’d thank the Brooklyn Brewery for making such a good Winter Ale. And Netflix Instant for adding The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Follow Henry Stewart on Twitter @henrycstewart