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Talkback Q&A Transcript

A group of children in a cinema

1. Did you create the film in America or over here?

We did it here so we have a studio that was in East London and we did the whole movie there, everything was done there. Some of the puppets were made in Manchester and I made three movies, The Corpse Bride, Fantastic Mr Fox and this movie, all in that same space.

2. How do you make the puppets talk?

So basically when the actor does the line, if the actor says “hello”, when the animator to do the shot he goes onto the stage and if the puppet has to say “he-“ he opens the mouth and takes a picture and then “-ll”, he takes another picture. Every frame is different so he just opens the mouth, he knows when. He’s saying “which frame?” and he opens the mouth to correspond to that frame. It’s not easy.

3. What is the process of making the film?

Basically they move the puppet, take a picture, move it, take a picture. If you look at it on your computer, you can take a picture and then you put them in iMovie or something and you string all the frames together, all those pictures together, and you move it and it looks like it moves. So if you’ve ever seen a flip book where you can just do a drawing on every page of your notebook and then you flip the notebook, it looks like that drawing is moving. So that’s the concept of animation, that every image is a different movement and then in stop-motion it’s a puppet on a set so that you just move it and when you run the film it goes like that.

4. How about the sets? How big are they?

Actually the sets are different sizes but if a person is this big the sets have to be that big and some of them were the size of a regular room. But if you guys are around the Southbank this week they are going to have an exhibition with actual sets and puppets from the movie where you can actually see what they look like, see how they move and see what’s inside them. And it’s really pretty cool.

5. How many people worked on the movie?

We had about 250 people working with me and that was fun and they we also had about 50 or 60 interns and work experience people who, sometimes my niece and nephew come when they are about 14, 15, 16-years-old and they actually help us make the movie. It’s really fun because you can really see how we made things and in stop-motion its very neat because everything has to be small so sometimes we use things that you wouldn’t think, like water is done with cling-film and sometimes smoke is done with cotton wool; you just take cotton wool and put it in and move it one frame at a time. So it’s a really cool process because you can really see how things that you use every day can be re-used for something else.

6. Is there a difference in doing it in black and white than doing it in colour?

There was a difference for us as the artists making the movie because we had to learn how black and white worked. We really needed to paint it in black and white so that it didn’t play tricks with your mind because sometimes you can have red and one red will look a certain way and another red will look a different way on screen so it seemed better to work in greys and black and whites. You guys have a uniform but if you look outside, loads of people are wearing black and white so it was easy to live in black and white.

7. What was the inspiration for the film?

The story was original made by Tim Burton, the director, and then there was a writer named Jogh August who wrote the script and he was the one who gacve it a little more detail so Tim said “I had some friends at school, this is what I want them to be like” and then [John] said “I am going to make Toshiaki Japanese and I’m going to make Nassor seem like he’s the mummy guy. They were all inspired by films so Toshiaki was inspired by Godzilla and Nassor was inspired by a film called The Mummy so they had different influences.