It’s unusual at these broadcast press days to get time to talk technical with filmmakers. For the most part, these events are all about getting a sound bite out of a movie star.
On a film like “ParaNorman,” thought, it’s great to have that chance to talk to the people who actually brought the remarkable world of the movie to life. Stop-motion is one of those art forms where survival depends on younger artists learning from those few people who are still actually doing this, and Laika’s new film plays like a master class on the potential for stop-motion. They’ve combined classic technique with high tech in a way that is visually dazzling.
Beyond that, though, “ParaNorman” is an example of just how beautiful and affecting performance work can be when you’ve got masterful animators at the helm. Laika is unusual as a company because Travis Knight is not only the head of the company, but also an animator who did a lot of the hands-on work himself. There are some dazzling sequences in the film that he was the lead animator on, and it’s proof that he’s not just some executive. His father is Phil Knight, the co-found of Nike, and Laika was created out of the passion that Travis Knight feels for stop-motion animation in general.
Chris Butler and Sam Fell, the co-directors of the film, also sat down with us to talk about the origins of the story and how they use one of the oldest forms of film storytelling combined with some of the newest tools that exist to tell this story that combines tones just as much as the filmmaking combines technique. Overall, this is a smart group of guys who seem justifiably proud of this odd, beautiful little film they’ve just finished.
Here’s hoping this is just one of many we see from Laika in years to come.
“ParaNorman” is in theaters now.