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Talking with the Oscar Nominees for Animated Short Film

by Bill Desowitz
February 6, 2014 1:19 PM
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I recently chatted with the Oscar nominees for "Feral" (Daniel Sousa), the Annie-winning "Get a Horse!" (Lauren MacMullan), "Mr. Hublot" (Laurent Witz), "Possessions" (Shuhei Morita), and "Room on the Broom" (Max Lang). We discussed personal connections and challenges. Interestingly, all five of the films explore the theme of adjusting to change in our lives.

What's the reaction been like in seeing “Get a Horse!,” this unique hyrbrid representation of Mickey?

Lauren MacMullan: It's been great to see people react to it in a theater: they gasp at Mickey coming out of the screen; I've seen some little kids reach up into the air for the animals as they swing out. So we'e got a range of reactions from critics and cinephiles and at the same time kids whose first movie this is.

"Mr. Hublot."

The world of ‘Mr. Hublot’ reminded me of "Brazil."

Laurent Witz: Ah, Brazil is definitely an inspiration. I love that movie. Another important inspiration was [Belgian artist] Stephane Halleux's mechanical sculptures and characters. I worked with him and I took his characters to make something possible in animation and to give more emotion to characters. And according to that, we have created the world of Mr. Hublot. The 3D version is warmer than the sculptures. It's poetic.

What was the research for "Feral" (pictured above) like?

Daniel Sousa: The film started as a re-telling of the Kasper Hauser story. (There is a great Werner Herzog film based on it). Kasper was a German boy who had spent his entire childhood devoid of human contact, chained to a basement. After he was found, he never fully adjusted to society, and he was treated as a sort of curiosity by others. When I started researching the story I realized that there have been numerous reported cases of these children. There's also the wild boy of Aveyron, which inspire Truffaut's film Wild Child. The children in these stories, having survived in isolation for years, were in turn feared as savage and evil, or mythologized as messengers from an idyllic and unadulterated world.

How is "Possessions" personal for you?


Shuhei Morita: It is because I was born and raised in Nara, the birth place of Japanese culture. I was interested in nature, culture, history, folk stories, and tradition there. "Tsukumo-gami" are things that existed for a long time that it develops a self-awareness and soul. This is a unique idea that things have souls. For example, when you lose an important thing on your desk, without becoming frustrated you should think of it this way. "It is trying to come back to me!" Then you won't get so frustrated or you'll be happy when you see them again.

Talk about the lead character in "Room on the Broom," a very unusual witch that breaks the stereotype.

Max Lang: She travels and helps others and was a challenge to design but she's such a great role model. Every time I watch it with my daughter, I'm so happy to show her that there's more to aspire to than being a princess. And it's so nice to portray a witch like that. When you look back in history, they are never just people who are different -- they were burned. Coming back to the feeling about the film, it's about change and we started with that family motif, but our production was a bit like that too.

Read the rest of these interviews at Animation Scoop.

'Room on the Broom'


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