Oscar 2012: Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis Talk Wild Life
WT: The biggest challenge for us was arriving at the technique, the look. A couple years after coming off When The Day Breaks, we were determined not to hand paint the whole film because we knew how much work that was. We were exercising our computer chops and thinking there must be something we can do with the computer to make life easier and get a look we liked. We experimented a lot trying various things, hybrid techniques, a bit of hand drawing, a bit of computer drawing. In the end we felt dissatisfied with it mainly because we needed to capture the textures of the landscape and we found that computer painting just didn’t quite have it, at least at that time. A cleaner look felt wrong for the story, as much as we wanted to do it cleaner. So, we ended up going back to real paint although we animated it using Flash. We printed out every image onto paper and then painted it with gouache, scanned it back into the computer and in some cases did some compositing, and constructed the film that way. It was very, very laborious, but the painting is fun and satisfying. We like the randomness that comes with it and the textures. It was worth it.
AF: Although we came up with the script very early on and the story is much like the script, there was a lot added in the process. The structure changed a lot. It was a constant editing process for both picture and sound. We worked with sound effects right from the beginning and that was challenging. I think that is sort of a typical way for us to work. We don’t tend to set it in stone and then make the film. It’s always a process of revision and evolution.
DS: How did this differ from When the Day Breaks as far as the type stories you want to tell?
WT: This was harder than When The Day Breaks. It was a harder story to tell. It was a harder film to work out visually. Some of them just flow better than others. In terms of the kind of stories we want to tell, I don’t quite know. I need more of a sample of work.
AF: We need to make more films before I know how to answer that one.
WT: For me, with Wild Life, we were moving in a different direction like I mentioned earlier. Its talky, it has a lot of talking. For us, it was an interesting challenge to record voice actors.
AF: That was fun.
WT: Directing voice actors was really fun. You design characters and animate to the voice. That was a fun aspect that we were both keen to try. There was also the faux documentary part of it that was appealing, that we could construct a fake newsreel and have these cool interviews with the local people. We originally set out to do even more of a documentary structure. That was quite different from When The Day Breaks. The musical structure oddly is slightly similar to When The Day Breaks. We have these distinct musical pieces in it. There are some things you can’t change about how you make films as much as you try. We’re always trying to be different from the previous films and they always end up being somewhat the same. What we want to do next is go in a different direction, even more abstract. The abstract elements of When The Day Breaks and Wild Life would be more the direction we would go in. We’re not sure. We tend to not want to repeat ourselves.
DS: How do you push yourselves artistically?