In frames of ReAnimania festival, Regional Post and festival’s head Vrej Kassouny talked to “Grand Hotel Budapest” and “Fantastic Mr. Fox” director Wes Anderson who turned to animation this year again with “The Isle of Dogs.” This unique ode to Japan and dogs many think is one of the best films of Anderson, so we discussed with the filmmaker why he likes to make animated films from time to time.

Interview: Artavazd Yeghiazaryan, Vrej Kassouny




What makes you turn to animation from time to time? It must be quite different experience from live action?

— Well, the first animated movie I made, “Fantastic Mr. Fox”, it seemed like the only way to tell that story was a book that I had like since I was a child, and I’ve always liked stop-motion animation in particular, and… So, it really began with that story, with the way that I thought that story needed to be told.


How did you come to “Fantastic Mr. Fox”? What was it like, when you thought: “Oh, my next film will be an animation”?

— It was many years of getting to the point where we actually made the film. I think it must have been 1999 or 2000 when we started the process, and we didn’t make the movie for many years after that. But I always thought it would be a fun because it’s such a different experience from making a live-action movie. Everything is slowed down, and it happens in a different order but the work is still continuous, and I get with different set of collaborators but I’ve come to rely on them the same ways and I am inspired by them the same ways, so I’ve really loved making animated films.


Would you consider to make a movie, where we can see both, animated characters and live action actors next to each other?

— Well, it wouldn’t be the first time but I don’t really think that’s for me. I imagined to do something with animation and live action, maybe intercut in different sequences or something like that but I’m not so excited to do them altogether.


isle of dogs


Which one is much difficult, working with live actor or with animation character and animator?

— I don’t really know if I would think about the difficulty of that. They’re very similar. Working with an animator and working with an actor on a set of the movie are very similar experiences in a lot of ways. And they each bring their own personalities, they each take the same material and they would do something completely different with it. And each one has his or her own approach… and voice. So, you know, the spontaneity of being on a movie set is hard to replace. But even the process of recording actors for an animated movie has a great spontaneity. It is almost like recording a rehearsal.


What kind of animation technique do you prefer? What was the latest animation you’ve seen?

— The last one I watched with my daughter was the Miyazaki “Castle in the sky”. That’s one of my favorite Miyazaki films. I love stop-motion but some of my favorite animated films are the Miyazaki’s.


asian children


Have you ever thought about making an animated film in other technique?

— I did in the last one, “Isle of Dogs”, we had some sequences in drawn animation.


Why “Isle of Dogs”? How did you get to this topic?

— Jason Schwartzman, Roman Coppola, and I, and later our friend Kunichi Nomura, we developed this together. It didn’t start out as being a story in Japan. It started out, I think we were considering it in America. It also didn’t start as a story on island. It grew around our characters of these dogs. They were on a garbage dump. And we eventually made the garbage dump on an island, and we moved it to Japan from America. And it revealed itself to us step by step.




Did you know about the other “Isle of Dogs”, the short animated movie by Serge Avedikian?.

— I didn’t know about the film, I didn’t really know much… I didn’t know the event but I think at some point during the making of our film “Isle of Dogs” we read about this, about the actual events that Serge’s film is based on. I only heard about Serge’s film when I was contacted by Serge. And then I saw the film which I loved.


What was your first reaction when Serge first contacted you?

— I was very intrigued to know there was something so close to our film, and when I watched it, I saw so much in common, not just in what happens in the film, these dogs are exiled to an island, and why. Even though Serge’s film is based on the real events, and ours is a fantasy, they’re inspired by, I think, very similar events in history. The kind of thing that happens in a historical cycle.





Did you know that artist could think alike and come up with not only the same topic or subject but also with the very same title? Did it create a conflict or misunderstanding?

— No, it didn’t create a conflict or misunderstanding for one thing: I didn’t know about it until after our film was already done and had been in cinema, so it was really too late to do anything like change our title. And I liked that there was someone else, another artist, whose work I admired, who was exploring the same territory in the completely different way and in his own unique voice.


It's a common story, when before filming director shares some sources of inspiration with his team. Did you have such screenings before making the Isle of Dogs?

— Well, before we made “The Isle of Dogs” we watched together many-many Kurosawa films. Miyazaki too, but really our greatest inspiration were the films of Akira Kurosawa, especially his urban films.


Fantastic Mr. Fox WES ANDERSON

On the set of “Fantastic Mr. Fox”


You have a whole bunch of great stars. Where the appearance of characters influenced by the particular actor?

— Not really. The puppets in our story are invented separately from the actors. But I think the animators channel the actors in the way that they animate those puppets. So I do feel like the actors come through not just in their voices but in how their voices inform each animator.


Would you accept ReAnimania's invitation for 2019 11th edition?

— I certainly hope so. I’m starting a new film which has some bit of animation element to it. But I would look forward to being there sometime soon.