Saturday, March 17, 2012

Animation to Live Action

21 Jump Street directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller* explain how directing live-action is different than directing animation. And how it's the same.

Phil Lord: The whole [directing] process is intimidating because you’ve got these guys that have been on 20 movies or more, and everybody on the [live-action] set is more experienced than you. “Cloudy [with a Chance of Meatballs]” was really no different at the beginning, but the temperament of an animation studio is such that everybody’s kind of like us — people are relatively soft-spoken, it’s not the same. Like on a movie set, you really are commanding an army, and you have to learn the difference between “action” and “ACTION!”

... There are things that are really the same [in live-action or animation], but it’s not like we’ve only been speaking with computers for the last four years. You’d hang out with other filmmakers and talk to them about their shots, and [with] storyboard artists and animators or performers, you’d have the same issues of trying to communicate what you want, but still allow the latitude for them to bring what they can bring. And it’s no different in live action where you’re still trying to create a community where people can mess up and try new stuff and it’s okay. ...

Mr. Lord and Mr. Miller are now successful first-time directors in both animated and live-action features. When they came into rework Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, they were comedy writers with no animation experience, and some of the animation staff at Sony Pictures Animation were skeptical about their abilities to head up an animated feature.

But they pulled the feat off, and delivered Sony's first animated hit. The studio was so pleased with the box office results that it asked them to embark on another feature. I was told that Miller and Lord declined.

But now here they are back again, delivering unto Sony (and MGM) yet another hit. So I doubt that Sony is miffed in any kind of major way.

* This Chris Miller is not the Chris Miller who directed "Puss in Boots" or "Shrek 3". That's a different Chris Miller entirely, just to let you know.


Anonymous said...

They worked on Clone high before cloudy

Anonymous said...

So, no feature animation experience.

Steve Hulett said...

^ They do now.

Floyd Norman said...

As my old friend, Denis Rich used to say:

"In live-action, unlike animation, you can make your bad movie faster."

Anonymous said...

Nicest AND most talented guys I've ever worked for. I'd trust them with any genre.

And "no animation experience" is laughably incorrect. They started at Disney Saturday Morning. They won a Student Academy Award for their animated short. They directed every episode of Clone High, reboarding almost every panel of themselves. They wrote and directed the amazing Phil Hendrie animated pilot (that was overlooked for American Dad). Etc. They just ALSO happen to be great sitcom writers.

Their next projects -- LEGO and Bob The Musical -- are going to rule. Two more genres they haven't played in yet.

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