Three Directors Discuss Their Not A Monty Python Animated Film
The other thing, there are a couple moments where we allow it to enhance the storytelling. One is when Graham goes to Ibiza and he realizes he’s not in London any more, this closed, cramped environment, and that there’s a whole big wide world out there. At that point, when he gets to the top of the hill and looks out over the horizon, we really tried to stretch the animation as deep as it would go because Graham’s horizons were literally broadening at that point.
BJ: As we started seeing stuff coming in, we began to realize how the textures start to zing out at you in 3-D. Especially looking at the cut-out type world we were creating. Then, getting into all these bizarre flights of fancy, I think the 3-D helps to abuse the audience a bit more. I think Graham would have loved that (laughter).
JS: If you’re watching in the first 3 rows, you feel a bit violated (more laughter). There’s a psychedelic moment which we call Space Pods, where Graham’s flying around in space. It’s fantastic. The animators from Treat Studios, those young guys who did that section, they’re really quite mad. We had seen it originally in 2D. There’s a moment when Graham goes into Oscar Wilde’s mausoleum, but it’s really his own mausoleum, and he’s facing his own death, and they put dust, floating in 3-D, inside the mausoleum. We were saying, “Oh my god, there’s dust floating around the mausoleum!” It was just so beautiful. So you really can get those extra special moments with 3-D. What did you think of it?
DS: Well, often the best use of 3-D is for subtle things. There are times when the 3-D enhances the perception of space and distance with the landscape of action, where you really feel the effects. Other times, all you realize is that the visuals are extremely rich, vivid textures, colors and surfaces. Especially when applied to 2D animation, things look more interesting, though not for any obvious reason.
BT: Will you put that in the article? That’s good.
BJ: The thing that struck me was after the wrestling scene when we were getting to the weird scene with the babies in the theatre, with these amazing cutout paper puppets, the 3-D gave it this weird, extra strange look.
DS: In the final analysis, looking back at your first ideas for what this film might be, is this the film you hoped to make? Is this the film you wanted to make?
All: Yes. (laughter)
JS: It has gone through so many evolutions, from a documentary idea then to a fully animated feature film. When we were working on the script and the dialogue, we had no idea what this film would look like. It’s been an exciting journey for us, seeing all that animation coming together. For me, what’s interesting is that the original idea that drove me to want to do a documentary about Graham, was that simple idea that here is a story about a man who was openly gay but secretly alcoholic. When you look at the book, the ideas are in the movie. They’re still the same ideas. They’re what Graham wrote, what he experienced in his life. They’re all in there.
DS: Bill, I have to ask, having such a famous father, a members of arguably one of the most famous and iconic comedy groups of all time, how did that affect you growing up?
BJ: Well, when I was quite young, in my school, Dad wasn’t actually the most famous dad in the school. He was the second most famous and he wasn’t famous to any of my friends. It’s not like you could get a VHS of his work.
BT: Bill and I went to private school together. The most famous dad was in this show called Grange Hill, which was a kid’s soap. Everybody watched Grange Hill.
BJ: Everyone would yell, “There’s the teacher from Grange Hill” and run over to him. He was the famous dad. I think I really had the ideal growing up as I had all the benefits of growing up with a famous father without having a lot of the drawbacks. A lot of people don’t get into Python until they go to college. I didn’t go to college, I started working. So I wasn’t really surrounded by people who knew who my dad was. The only times I remember people approaching and asking for an autograph would be when we were on holiday, when we’d be the only English family in a restaurant. We didn’t seem to get bothered on the street.
DS: How old were you when you first realized how big a deal Monty Python was in the world of entertainment?
BJ: It was a gradual thing really. I was gradually becoming a Python fan myself.
TJ: The memory of Month Python seems to have grown in retrospect. When we did the first series, the BBC wasn’t of the mind to let us do a second series. It wasn’t a huge success. When we did The Holy Grail, the first audience we showed it to didn’t laugh. It seems to have grown bigger in retrospect over the years. I have no idea why.
BJ: I think the original fans who were into Python had kids, so now you have the original fans and their kids who are fans. So the fan base has naturally grown.
BT: Growing up with Bill, all I know is that he got better presents than me. (laughter) I remember this amazing thing called Laser Tag, this amazing thing that nobody got over here. And he had already got it but wouldn’t let anyone play with it until he got bored with it, which took about an hour (laughter).
Editor’s Note: EPIX and Brainstorm Media present, in association with Trinity, A Liar’s Autobiography – The Untrue Story of Monty Python's Graham Chapman, permieres on EPIX and in select U.S. theaters in 3-D on November 2, 2012 and premieres theatrically in the U.K. in late October.
Dan Sarto is Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Animation World Network.