A rendezvous with the man behind the ‘Isle of Dogs’

by May 12, 2019 0 comments

Who let the dogs out

Filmmaker Wes Anderson says his first inspiration to directe the Isle of Dogs came from Japanese cinema. In conversation, with Team Viva

Where did the inspiration for the film begin from?

The very first inspiration was when we made Fantastic Mr Fox, another animated movie which we shot at Bromley-By-Bow in East London. On the way, there was a sign at the road for the turnoff to the Isle of dogs, which is kind of an industrial island on the Thames. It always seemed very mysterious to me. I love dogs and I looked it up and it was supposedly the place where the king kept his hunting dogs in the 16th century (or something related) and that was the beginning of this movie, so I just hoped there’s something in that for us, which was this. Then I went to Jason and Roman, my two good old friends and said I have this idea of of five dogs — Chief, King, Duke, Boss and Rach on a garbage dump islands — and that was all I had. I had that information and we had also been hoping to make a film together in Japan. So, we sort of mixed them together and suddenly we started to get some ideas.

Can you talk about the voice casting of this film because the voices are just beautiful. How did you take the final call for the voice cast?

Yes, well I think for some parts, the casting of every role is a bit different, for some parts are the people I have known or have been following for years. We were auditioning people and seeing people like Akira. I didn’t really know Akira has been in one other film and Koyu hasn’t been in any other films and I just like their voices and performances; really casting them the way you cast an actor.

Could you talk about the researching put into the Japanese culture in this movie?

Well, I think our first inspiration was Japanese cinema, that’s why we wanted to do a film and that was why we were thinking of Japan in the first place and for us it was Kurosawa and Miyazaki. Those were the two very different kind of filmmakers but those are the ones who were really inspiring us and making us want to make this story in the first place. The other two masters I would say are the woodblock printmakers — Hiroshige and Hokusaiand — those became our kind of guides as well. But all four of those artists, I can’t really put my finger on what we were looking for and what we were taking from them. It was more sort of steeping ourselves in their work, putting the pictures on the walls, sharing it and seeing how it came into our own story.

As a filmmaker, who makes animated films, why do you think we are so weary of animation as a medium that we can take seriously to tell adult stories?

Well, that’s a very good question. My answer is just going to be exactly the same thing as yours. But here, I didn’t put children into consideration, but only the families. Not the way we really steer a thing for an audience and for an age group. My earlier animated film was based on a book that was written with a particular age group in mind, not ours.

The film was not necessarily written that way but the book was. So we were working with something that I already had built. We didn’t write this one with anybody in mind and as we went along every now and then, we asked ourselves, can we do this? Is it going to be alright and will people accept this? Since it’s not really a children’s film at all and for some children it might be disturbing. You know it has a PG-13 rating which animated films don’t usually get and when it got that way it made sense to me because the dog hanged himself by his own leash.

Correct me if I am wrong… were there three different sizes for every puppet?

You can’t really break it down quite that way. What you have is based on what you need for some puppets. There is one scale and that’s going to be sufficient for what this puppet needs to do but for other ones there are different sizes.  If we are taking a very wide shot, we have some small puppets but I was always trying to push us in the direction of smaller scale. I liked the idea of using smaller puppets and having a larger scope to the set because that would include everything. Everybody said that we are going too small and I kept pushing it. However, I was wrong, we should have had bigger puppets because often it became very challenging to animate at that scale. We also reached a certain point where the puppet would not hold up at a long distance. In the frame, the puppet was not right and it turned out to be my fault. I had kept puppets smaller but then we had to at times produce larger scale puppets, change the schedule and so on… not that everybody is dying to hear the details of our scheduling process but it was quite complicated in the stop motion film.

(The show premieres on Star Movies Select HD on May 25.)

Writer: Team Viva

Courtesy: The Pioneer

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