Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with a short, but sweet interview with Moonrise Kingdom’s director, Wes Anderson. It’s not a long interview, but we cover the influence of Powell and Pressburger, the glory of Technicolor and an early concept of integrating animated sequences into Moonrise Kingdom. All in about 7 minutes!
If you read the Jason Schwartzman interview you’ll see a little connecting tissue between the two chats, so keep an eye out for that!
Hope you guys enjoy it!
Quint: [Schwartzman] told me I should show you a few things on my phone.
Wes Anderson: Oh yes, he told me that you had some storyboards? These are Earnest Leiman’s notes, right?
Quint: Yeah, his notes from visiting Mt. Vernon as he was writing NORTH BY NORTHWEST.
Wes Anderson: Right.
Quint: So yeah, that’s at the Harry Ransom center.
Wes Anderson: Yeah, he told me. And he told me that you had some things from the Powell and Pressburger… Do they have Powell and Pressbrger archives there?
Quint: I don’t know whose collection it came from, but they do have one piece here that’s painted storyboards from RED SHOES.
Wes Anderson: Yeah, wow.
Quint: Which are just ridiculously beautiful.
Wes Anderson: Amazing.
Quint: I mean that’s kind of incredible to me, because you look at that and you go “Of course they didn’t just do a standard storyboard thing,” because the color palette on those films are so important.
Wes Anderson: Yeah. (Looks at the pictures) Yeah, these are amazing. I mean that sequence is kind of incredible, but also that’s… RED SHOES is like ’42 or something, isn’t it?
Quint: It’s funny, if you watch some of their earlier stuff too, like I’m a huge fan of A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH and you know, that’s got almost that early painterly Technicolor quality, where it almost bleeds over the edges.
Wes Anderson: Yeah, well you know THE LIFE AND DEATH OF COLONEL. BLIMP is one of my favorite movies ever. That’s my favorite Powell and Pressberger, I think, and one of my favorite movies period and that has that same feeling of it’s almost like a painting and the sets have that… Everything is so vivid. Yeah, A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH… I think Tilda’s character in our movie is somehow connected to that. You know, she has that scene with the pilot who is a little David Niven-ish and we talked about that, but also she sort of looks like Deborah Kerr in Colonel Blimp.
Quint: I remember reading that Spielberg had some version of Technicolor release prints struck for MUNICH. Apparently there’s a Technicolor factory in Europe that has a special process. Would you ever consider doing any of that for any of your films?
Wes Anderson: Is that right? That they can really do it?
Quint: That’s what I heard he did on MUNICH.
Wes Anderson: Wow, that’s crazy. I didn’t know anybody could do that. I haven’t read that. Yeah, you know the thing is I don’t know what I’m going to think up. I mean I have a script that I’m trying to sort out “how are we going to go about this?” and I’m just sort of thinking “are we going to be able to do this on film?” I have no idea what the circumstances are for that. It’s not just “Can this be done?” Yes it can be done, but somebody has got to manage a whole movie worth of footage and dailies and make sure things aren’t… There’s not much room for destroyed negative (laughs) when you’re shooting a movie.
Quint: You currently shoot on film, right?
Wes Anderson: So far I’ve only shot on film. I mean I’ve done a couple of commercials on digital and FANTASTIC MR. FOX is digital.
Quint: Yeah, it’s with the 5Ds?
Wes Anderson: Yeah, that seems like the way they do it now.
Quint: I just toured Laika for PARANORMAN and a lot of the FANTASTIC MR. FOX people were working over there with them.
Wes Anderson: Yeah, well I just did a commercial with them.
Quint: Oh yeah?
Wes Anderson: Yes, you can see it on YouTube. It’s a Sony smart phone sort of thing, but yeah I mean anyways, it’s a commercial, but that one is sort of like a little short, because they let me do my own thing and in fact the little boy who… The oldest of the three brothers of the girl in MOONRISE KINGDOM is (in it). We recorded him sort of telling us how he thinks this phone works and we edited it down, but it’s just an interview with him that we edited down into this thing and then we animated it with stop motion.
Quint: It’s a fascinating format to me. There’s a lot of artistry in it, which I have to assume is what kind of drew you to doing it for Fantastic Mr. Fox. When I was watching Moonrise Kingdom it struck me that it felt like some of the tone and visuals that you brought to Mr. Fox kind of worked their way into your visual style on Moonrise. Especially towards the end. I mean some of those shots at the lighthouse feel almost animated themselves.
Wes Anderson: You know at one point I had this concept that each time the girl read from one of these books we would see what she was reading animated, drawn animation, and you know we would sort of go into that and then in this last scene, when they go up on the roof of the church we would be in a cartoon and the whole thing would be done as an animated thing and then eventually I thought “I feel like we will feel more for them if they stay the people that we’ve gotten to know during the movie,” but in fact we did end up doing the animation of these scenes and we are going to do it like as a kind of online whatever it is. I’ve had a little team of animators working for the last month to do these stories, which are actually like a paragraph of each of these books.
Quint: So, those are all going to be online?
Wes Anderson: I’m hoping in the next two weeks. We were kind of late, (Laughs) so I’m trying to get it finished, but also it hasn’t been… I mean this week has not been a great week for managing the animation process, just send a three word thing off. I know the guy who is working with us who is kind of supervising the animation is probably like “I don’t understand these notes. I’m going to try, but we will see.”
Quint: Cool, well thanks for taking the time, man. I appreciate.
Wes Anderson: Yeah man, very nice talking to you.
Going back over this interview it occurs to me that Anderson may have inferred that there’s still a place that uses the IB Tech process. To clarify, I didn’t mean to infer that there’s an active lab out there printing in IB Technicolor. That process hasn’t been available in over 30 years. However Spielberg and his Munich DoP, Janusz Kaminski, did go out of their way to have their release prints struck at London’s Technicolor lab using a process called ENR. I think Munich is an amazing looking film and I kind of wish Spielberg and Kaminski had made Indy 4 look more like that and less like a Sweet-Tarts box exploded on the screen.
At any rate, that was my very short time with Mr. Anderson, but I think that turned out pretty well. Hope you guys liked it, too!