Ottawa International Animation Festival 2009: Day 3: Only at OIAF
Only at OIAF can you get a chance to talk about the crazy Balloon Boy escapade with veteran Simpsons director David Silverman, and get to compare that incident with a Simpsons episode where prankster Bart pretends to be little Timmy, a boy who has fallen down a well. Happily, like Bart/Timmy, Balloon Boy was safe and sound the whole time.
Silverman talks about his work on The Simpsons – both he TV series and movie – with great affection and enthusiasm. “The Simpsons challenges the intellect and stimulates the intellect,” he says. This, despite the fact that the show relies on what he calls a “double act” routine – with one big idiot leading a lesser idiot.
When asked if another Simpsons feature is in the offing, Silverman replies, “I’m sure in future there will be. Right now, we’re too busy on the show.”
Silverman advises that The Simpsons series is being adjusted for HD format. “Backgrounds had to be redesigned and updated, and that involves a lot of fine line work,” Silverman says.
In 2000, Silverman departed Simpsons territory and co-directed Dreamworks’ The Road to El Dorado and in 2001, he co-directed Pixar’s Monsters, Inc. “I had been working on The Simpsons for 10 years, and I thought, ‘This can’t last forever’,” Silverman recalls. As it turned out, after those gigs, Silverman returned to The Simpsons’ comfortable couch for another extended run.
Silverman’ newest project is directing a live-action family comedy called The Pet for Disney. The movie is about an everyday guy who becomes the pet of a group of aliens.
Silverman notes that this is not the first time an animation director has directed live-action. He points to Warner Bros. shorts director Frank Tashlin, who wrote and directed Son of Paleface with Bob Hope and Jane Russell, as well as Monty Python animator Terry Gilliam, whose new film The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is due out this December.
Only at OIAF do you get an opportunity to chat with stop-motion puppet master, writer and director Henry Selick (James and the Giant Peach, A Nightmare Before Christmas) about a project like Coraline, which is the first stop-motion feature to be conceived and photographed in stereoscopic 3D.
“Neil [Gaiman] sent me the book before it was published,” Selick says. “I was familiar with his work in comics, on Sandman,” he says, adding, “I was hooked right away. To me, it’s Alice in Wonderland meets Hansel and Gretel… fairy tale darkness in a contemporary setting.”
Interestingly enough, Selick says that one of Gaiman’s favorite scenes in Coraline is the glorious “garden scene” – which does not even appear in the book.
And while it now seems obvious that Coraline was ideally suited for animation, Selick says that his script was first being shopped as a live-action feature.