Original short interviews with notable, rising or overlooked
figures from comics or the larger entertainment field by Bill Baker.
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BAKER'S DOZEN for 03/29/2006
Filling in for Bill Baker to tie in with the release of Dave McKean and Neil Gaiman's MirrorMask on DVD, Joel Meadows, award-winning British film and graphic novels journalist, presents the first part of a chat he had with Dave McKean in November at last year's London Film Festival about the project.
Joel Meadows: Is MirrorMask the first longform project you've ever worked on as a director? How did you feel coming to it having done a lot of shorter pieces?
Dave McKean: Yes. I felt daunted and a little terrified. I'd made a couple of short films, so I got a little crew together. I found a producer, a director of photography, effects supervisor and a composer for my shorts and I used the same team for MirrorMask. I tried to find a visual point of view that would make it my film and not anyone else's. The team came together quite easily: actually making the two hour film was a huge commitment.
JM: How did the Henson Company come on board?
DM: They started the project really. The film started as a proposition from Columbia to Lisa [Henson] to try and make another film in the style of Jim Henson's work. She didn't know how to do it because those films were very expensive at the time to make and they only had a tiny amount of money to do it. But Lisa had seen my short films and she knew Neil [Gaiman] so it all converged.
JM: It's interesting that when Jim was around, the Henson company was well know for their puppets and animatronics but now they've made the switch into CG and they've got an exceptionally good reputation for CG. I believe that it's the bulk of their work now.
DM: I'd just like to clear something up at the start: Henson's had nothing to do with making the film because it's been reported that they did.
JM: I'm glad that you cleared that up.
DM: I think that the company reached a point where they realised that they had to look at digital effects, I don't think they went into it with any great love though. I think their passion is for puppets and it was very important for Jim Henson that it was his hand in the puppets. I think, to be honest, they've struggled a little bit to find a place in the changing world of filmmaking and digital effects. The London office, the famous creature shop, is now closed down, which is really sad. It feels like it's the end of an era. But Lisa and Brian Henson now run the company and they're different people from Jim with different priorities, so they're taking things in a different direction.
JM: So you made MirrorMask with your own animation team basically?
DM: Yes we couldn't afford to take it to a post production house or even the Creature Shop.
JM: You wouldn't know that from watching the quality of the effects in the film...
DM: That's kind of you to say that. We just set up one room in a London studio. I hired 15 art school graduates and took it from there. It was a real challenge.
JM: In terms of making the film, did you approach it the same way you did your short films, except on a larger scale? Presumably you did a lot of planning before you started shooting?
DM: It was all storyboarded. It was a technical shoot (four weeks in a blue screen studio) so I needed to tell the actors what they were doing and what on Earth they were actually looking at. It was closely designed. But I'd worked out a couple of techniques while I was making my short films to make life a little easier. They were very basic techniques which allow you to shoot things very simply and then create the film in the computer afterwards. It takes away the pressure of the shoot. You can relax a bit and create a film using the resources that you've shot. You can even reframe everything afterwards.
You can find the rest of this interview and more of my writing at www.bloodinthegutters.com.
-- Joel Meadows
<< 02/22/2006 | 03/29/2006 | 04/26/2006 >>
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