Tim Reckart Talks Head Over Heels
DS: You say you were at Harvard before you went to the UK. What did you study at Harvard?
TR: I studied history and literature. I knew I wanted to do film when I was getting out of high school. During the college application process, I knew that as a career goal I wanted to do film but I also thought it was worthwhile getting some kind of liberal arts degree. To study content before I studied form…before learning how to tell a story, first I wanted to know about some of the stories already out there. That’s why I studied history and literature at Harvard. But I still kept wanting to make films. I actually got into animation because all of my friends were too busy to act in my video projects. That was how I did it in high school. So I went into animation as a way to make films by myself.
DS: A “DIY” guy.
TR: Yeah. So I was holed up in a closet for the first few projects I did at Harvard. Of course, this NFTS film was hardly a solo project. One of the really great things about directing animation is the opportunity to collaborate with people. I love working with people. I’ve fallen in love with the medium since that marriage of convenience at the beginning.
DS: Right. So with your first real film, you get an Oscar nomination. What was your reaction when you heard the news?
TR: I spent so much energy preparing to be disappointed, preparing to let myself down easy that when we heard the good news, I didn’t really know how to react. I kind of just sat there. I think I was checking to see if they had spelled my name right. Meanwhile, in the background, my brother and my girlfriend were jumping up in the air, whooping and hollering. I looked back and thought, “Oh, that’s what I’m supposed to be doing.” Then I caught on and joined in. But it was such a surprise that it took me a few seconds.
DS: I’m sure it was quite the shock.
DS: Last question. Coming off of this experience, what would you say is the most important thing you learned making this film?
TR: Head Over Heels was a new direction for me. I always wanted to follow in the footsteps of Quentin Tarantino and Tim Burton, to do something that was a little bit more intellectual eye candy. This was the first time that I really buckled down to try and do something that had a genuine emotional payoff for the audience. I guess I saw one too many Pixar films that made me cry and thought, “Good grief, I have to see if I can do that.” Ultimately I think it’s more challenging and it’s really a bigger feat to try to tackle, to attempt to make that connection with the audience. So I think the big lesson from here on in for me is to always try and find that emotional truth in a story and really make sure that’s coming across. That’s what people will come away with. You want to hit them on a gut level. People will forget about a clever movie but I think they really remember how a film made them “feel.” That’s a lot more rewarding to do because it’s much harder to do. I’m going to try and continue in that direction.
Dan Sarto is editor-in-chief and publisher of Animation World Network.