In this month's Fantastic Mr. Fox, Wes Anderson makes his first foray into animation with an adaptation of Roald Dahl's story about an upwardly mobile fox (George Clooney) whose drive to steal chickens threatens his family and community. While it's Anderson's first non-live action project, Mr. Fox nonetheless shares qualities with his other films, including a meticulous attention to detail, stylish design, and idiosyncratic characters. So how did the live-action auteur tackle the challenges of stop-motion filmmaking, especially considering that he spent much of the production in an entirely different country than his crew?
HitFix has a fun little glimpse of the director at work that shows us how Anderson collaborated with his animation team to bring the characters of Fantastic Mr. Fox to life. From his base in Paris, Anderson shot video storyboards of scenes and character movements by acting out scenes and blocking himself. He then emailed the videos to his crew in London, who took their visual cues from Anderson's performances. The end results, when viewed side-by-side with Anderson's versions, are near identical.
Hit the jump and watch Anderson as Mr. Fox, Kristofferson, Ash, and other characters from The Fantastic Mr. Fox.
What's fun about this video is that we see Anderson getting his creative juices flowing. He seems so often to be a figure of distant intellectualism that it's almost like watching him play in a sandbox, only that sandbox is a multi-million dollar film and the final product is as moving and distinctive as it is technically excellent.
It also demonstrates that the physicality of Mr. Fox's characters come more from Anderson's own imagining than they perhaps did from his talented voice cast (Clooney, Streep, Schwartzman, Murray) -- whom he purportedly recorded on locations rather than the standard controlled studio environment -- or even from his own animation team. Whereas Jim Carrey's mo-cap movements fleshed out a zillion characters in A Christmas Carol, and Pixar's effervescent animators taped themselves acting like children to nail the mannerisms of Russell the Wilderness Explorer, Anderson's characters move the way he moves. Hence, a universal style of body language remains consistent throughout the film – from Fox's stiff-backed jog to Kristofferson's nonchalant, zen posture.
Watch the video and tell us what you think: is Wes Anderson having fun (while retaining near-total artistic control), or what?