The 35th annual Oscar Nominees Luncheon went down last Monday afternoon, at the Beverly Hilton. Here's this year's class photo. Can you spot Charlie? 

Clicky to embiggen.

 oscar-luncheon-2016

I've enlarged him, behind the cut. Also, visit Hollywood Reporter for the full rundown on who's who in the photo, and an even larger version of the pic.

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Here's an interview with producer Rosa Tran via The Film Stage.

“We were working together at Starburns Industries and wondering, ‘what’s the next project?’” recalled Tran. “Duke got a hold of [Kaufman’s] script from Dino [Stamatopoulos] and immediately wanted to make it.” When they initially pitched the project at various studios they were either rejected or told to turn it into an episodic format that could be aired on television.

Huh! Didn't know that.

“I got involved in animation and it was like something clicked,” Tran said. “I call it the animation bug. You go onto a stage and it is beautiful.” She specifically tells the story of her days on the long-running stop-motion animated TV show Robot Chicken and how they had a Star Wars special. “You go onto the stage and there’s the scene where the AT-ATs are crossing over this icy terrain and I’m looking at the AT-ATs on this 20 by 20 set,” Tran noted. “I look at the computer monitor and I look back and forth and it’s like a magic trick. The snow is perfect. The AT-ATs are perfect. The little stormtroopers are perfect. When you look on the screen, it’s like the movie. The small details are so amazing.” (Source)

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"Everything is intentional," says Charlie in this interview with The Verge's Tasha Robinson. "Especially in a movie that's animated. There are absolutely no accidents, because it's happening one frame at a time."

What gave you the most technical problems as you were designing the film together?

Duke Johnson: Well, a lot of different technical problems came out of a lack of money. But mostly, specifically, it came out of a desire to want to have the most articulate-able puppets and the broadest range of emotions for the character performances. Typically, with low-budget stop-motion, you can get away with a cartoony style. But we wanted to have this authentic human experience, that's what we were going for, so it lent itself more toward a realistic aesthetic. So the level of nuance and detail goes up, so we had to figure out how to make these puppets relatable in a way that made that possible. Typically, stop-motion puppets can cost upward of $80,000. We had $100,000 initially to design all the puppets in the movie. So we had to find creative ways to do that.

[...]

The production studio Laika prefers to have individual animators tackle entire scenes, to enhance the continuity and give the scenes individual character. When I interviewed the directors of The Boxtrolls, I found out they had one ballroom scene done by a single animator who worked solely on that for 18 months. Do you prefer that method? Does it matter to you?

Johnson: That's ideal. It's an ideal scenario to keep one animator on a scene, because animators are like designers and actors. They have their own skill sets, and their own styles. But we didn't really have the luxury to do that on this film. We had animators coming and going, because we couldn't really afford to pay Laika rates. So we could only afford to keep animators a short period of time before they had to move on and take higher-paying jobs. And we didn't have the luxury of time — some of the scenes in this movie are extraordinarily long. Like, the hotel-room scene took the entire two-year duration of production to shoot, and we did it on multiple stages. So we had to put a lot of time into establishing these characters, and how they move, and what their specific character traits are, so all the animators could create a sense of solidarity. (Source)

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Rosa Tran has a really engaging piece on Medium, giving us the producer's perspective on making a stop motion indie feature.

I may not know the rules to the Game of Thrones or what happened to Shia LaBeouf, but I can tell you exactly when the binder will run out on the 3D printer. When it finally rains in LA, I can tell you exactly where the leaks will be in the building. I can tell where to go to buy more fabric to make more of Lisa’s shirts. I can tell you that you are doing a great job and I can’t pay you your full rate but we need you on our team.

When I look back at all of our challenges, I say to myself, “was I on a reality show?” I don’t even know how to share this experience. I don’t know how to convey the level of stress, the feeling of uncertainty, the fear that at any minute everything that we’ve devoted ourselves to will come crashing down.

Making a stop motion indie feature is guerrilla film making, times 10. What can I fix using duct tape? How can you reuse the duct tape? How can you fix something without any money? How can I BE creative?

Well I found that being nice gets you a long way AND sending a vendor a dozen cheese rolls from Porto’s in place of a very late past due payment can get you some more time. (Source)

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Here's a great hour-long interview with Charlie and Duke, cinematographer Joe Passarelli, and producer Rosa Tran.

The interview's preceded by a 10-minute featurette about the puppet sex scene. [Edit: In the time since I watched the clip earlier today, it seems the featurette has been excised from the clip. Sorry! Originally it was 1:08:07 in length, and now it's 0:57:33]

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This interview between Charlie, Duke Johnson and Ty Burr amuses me.

TB: I wanted to do something different with this interview, something a little “meta.” And my first question is, when you hear a reporter say “I want to do something different with this interview, something a little meta,” what emotion do you feel?

CK: Panic.

Duke Johnson: Numbness.

[...]

TB: What are the questions you don’t want asked about this project? The ones you dread.

[...]

DJ: “Why did this have to be animated?” It’s like —

CK: Asking “Why did this have to be live-action”?

DJ: Exactly. Why did you paint this picture with oil paints?

CK: Why did it have to be oil?

DJ: Why is it not watercolor?

CK: Why is it not Impressionistic? Why didn’t you do it in Photorealism?

DJ: Because that’s how I [expletive] painted it.

[...]

TB: “Anomalisa” name-checks and explores the Fregoli delusion[...] Are there other clinical delusions you’d like to make movies about? [...] Reduplicative paramnesia. Do you know what that is?

CK: No, but I like it. (Source)

Also a sad update on Frank or Francis:

CK: It’s not happening as far as I know. I want it to. We’ve been trying to raise money. No one’s interested.

And sad news for people who type things on the internet and would like to hear from the Kauf:

CK: I would never interact with somebody online.

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New Anomalisa featurette, in which the cast and Duke Johnson praise Charlie and his script:

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The IMDB will be talking with Charlie and Duke Johnson on Twitter, Jan. 15 at 2pm PT. Got a question for them? Hit 'em up with the tag.

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Nominations for the 2016 Oscars were announced today and, as expected, Anomalisa is up for Best Animated Feature. It sits alongside Boy and the World, Inside Out, Shaun the Sheep Movie and When Marnie Was There. Everyone's tipping Inside Out, but let's cross our fingers for an upset!

Alas, no other nominations for the film, and no nomination for Charlie's script. The Best Adapted Screenplay category includes The Big Short, Brooklyn, Carol, The Martian and Room.

You can check out the full list of nominees here.

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BCK frequenter Tim paid a visit to the Arclight cinema in Hollywood, where some of Anomalisa's sets are on display, and he sent in these snaps, for the benefit of we poor souls who cannot make the trek:

photo 1 photo 2
photo 3 photo 12
photo 22 photo 32
photo 42 photo 52

 

So detailed. You wouldn't know they were so small, eh?

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And it's fantastic. Marc Maron covers a lot of ground with Charlie, and again Charlie seems a bit more open and relaxed than we've heard him in the past. They discuss Anomalisa, obviously, and the rest of his filmography, Charlie's beef with George Clooney, his brief acting career, Charlie's family, Get A Life, Charlie's earliest days in TV... If you haven't heard much about Charlie's past, or you've read about it and you'd like it from the source's mouth, you'll like this.

The interview with Charlie starts neat the 13:25 mark. Duke Johnson joins in near 47:15.

I don't think I can embed the file. Here's the link.

Big thanks to Michael!

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Here's one way to find out, if you're in the U.S. Head on over to http://paramountshowtimes.com/us/anomalisa and stick your location in the search box. You should probably check your local guides, too--I have no idea how accurate or all-encompassing that page may be.

An email sent out to Kickstarter backers last week brought news that Anomalisa would start screening in these cities from around January 8:

  • Austin
  • Boston 
  • Ann Arbor 
  • Chicago 
  • Minneapolis 
  • Philadelphia 
  • Phoenix 
  • San Francisco 
  • Toronto 
  • Washington DC
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Here are two short teaser featurettes introducing Anomalisa's lead characters, with a little bit of commentary from David Thewlis and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

First, meet Michael:


And here's Lisa:

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To coincide with the four-day Kaufman retrospective presented by Landmark Theatres, and to coincide with Anomalisa's release, Charlie has penned a "Filmmaker's Letter" for Landmark's website, in which he speaks of his respect and admiration for stop motion animators.

Animators are observers and psychologists. They are actors inhabiting characters from the outside. They are physicists and engineers, first studying how things move in the real world, then figuring out how to represent that in an artificial one. How does a football bounce when it hits the ground? How does snow fall on a windy day? When you rub your eye, how long does it take to reposition itself properly in its socket? That’s one we explore in Anomalisa.

[...]

Being involved in Anomalisa has made me more observant and more thoughtful about movement. I watch people walk and ask myself what it says about them. I watch myself fidget and ask the same questions. I notice gestures. I pay attention to the crazy movement of leaves in the breeze on the tree outside my window. I try to understand how those seemingly haphazard movements might be simplified but effectively represented. I realize we're all moving constantly, in relation to others, unconsciously revealing our secrets, our fears, our attractions and repulsions, consciously trying to hide them, protect ourselves, make ourselves less obvious, less vulnerable. (Source)

The whole thing's worth reading.

Thanks to Julie and Rafał, who found it via Cartoon Brew.

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If you live in Boston and you leave a comment under this article ("telling us your best method of self help") at Hotchka by 11:59 PM, Friday, January 8, you can win a copy of the new book Scenes of Anomalisa: A Film by Charlie Kaufman.

The book contains screen grabs from the film, an abridged screenplay, as well as behind-the-scenes images, including shots of the puppets being built, construction of the miniature sets, and the crew painstakingly positioning, and re-positioning the puppets and cameras for each frame of film. The book also contains a foreword, written by Kaufman, in the style of Studs Terkel’s 1975 book, Working, in which a hotel bellman tells his story. Undeniably Kafumanesque in its tone and manner, readers will see this book as a physical embodiment of Kafuman’s vision. (Source)

Sounds great, eh? Competition rules and other relevant info at the link. Good luck!

(Just to be clear: don't leave a comment under the article you're reading right now. Go to the Hotchka article and comment there.)

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