Wes Anderson, Indie Email Auteur

The Adventures of Mr. Fox

The Los Angeles Times just published an article entitled, “Fur flies on Mr. Fox,” which details some of the experiences and process of the filming of Wes Anderson’s The Adventures of Mr. Fox. The film appears to be a hipster’s answer to The Nightmare Before Christmas, and reminds me quite a lot of The Wind in the Willows, so much so that one has to wonder if the BBC series from yesteryear wasn’t as much an inspiration as Roald Dahl’s original story.

All of that said, one of the points of controversy was how the film was shot. The film was created using stop-motion photography, a technique where you move objects in front of the camera incrementally, and take still photos of each position, thus creating stop-action movement. The process takes ages, especially once you introduce animated characters, lip sync, and secondary animation in the form of swaying branches or passing cars.

Shot on a stage in London, Wes Anderson (who penned the adaptation after several weeks at Roald Dahl’s estate, researching what made the author “tick”) spent much of the production time nowhere near the set, but from his apartment in Paris instead. His opinion was that he would set the tone, and let the animators do their thing. Whenever there was a sequence finished, the animators would submit them as digital movies, and Anderson would fire back detailed emails with his notes, even filming his own digital movies where he would act out a certain gesture to explain what he was going for.

As a director of stop-motion myself, I can tell you that this is an understandable process. While I don’t agree with an entirely absentee director, it is a bit like watching grass grow to sit on set as the animators work on a given sequence.

Read the article for more insight on the Email Auteur himself.

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