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A Roundtable With Animated Feature Directors

The LA Times conducted an hour-loung roundtable with the directors of five recent animated features: Mark Andrews (Brave), Peter Ramsey (Rise of the Guardians), Chris Butler (ParaNorman), Rich Moore (Wreck-It Ralph) and Genndy Tartakovsky (Hotel Transylvania).

  • I’m making an assumption that these will be the ones nominated for the oscar

  • Bhavin

    Pure GOLD, loved it

  • Great stuff! They’re definitely a group of quite different movies and directors. Here’s hoping there will be even more diversity in the future!

  • Mapache

    I don’t feel comfortable listening to some of these guys talking about how they pitches stories that come from their heart. Because you know… some of them became directors after their movie’s production began. :S

  • thanks for posting – very interesting

  • It’s great to give animation this much attention, and to be able to put a face to a name. Thank you LA Times.

  • Genndy seems to really shine here.

    • Chuck

      Genndy does say some very valid things, however I disagree with him that it’s the filmakers fault that they arent doing 2d. Mark Andrews is totally right. Even this years films point out that you can give the audience great films (ParaNorman, Pirates, Frankenweenie) and they STILL wont see them. Nobody can argue Iron Giant isnt one on the best 2d films in years and nobody saw it, and I dont think it’s only because it was badly marketed. But give them Smurfs or Chipmunks and they come in droves. The audience vote with their dollars, and they arent going to 2d movies.

      • Daniel

        I think gendy was talking about Princess and the Frog, a perfect example of a film that was trying to repeat what Disney was in the 90s. The film turned out this way because people like Mark Andrews and John Lasseter believing hand-drawn was a “genre”. Mark should talk to his friend brad bird about hand-drawn being a “genre”.

        • Chuck

          I agree, princess and the frog was pretty derivative and crap , but audiences still saw it. It did make 104 million domestic compared to 23 million for Iron Giant. Audiences picked the crappier film….

          • It’s pretty difficult to understand audiences as a whole. They can be very smart or very dumb. I believe they initially changed from 2D to 3D cause they were sick of the 90s Disney formula and Toy Story offered something good and new.

            Since then people related Pixar and 3D with good products. Shrek, not being such a good product, took advantage of people’s feelings about the Disney formula.

            Nowadays, I’m not sure if this is still the same. Like you said people can see any kind of crap in CGI. Maybe it’s because it looks more ‘realistic’, ‘more modern’ or ‘in 3D!’ … For 2D to success it’s probably not just a case of doing a good 2D film, but doing a good (or bad) 2D film that gives audiences what they want at the moment. It’s very difficult to know, though.

          • Tom

            Princess and the Frog made the money it did because of branding, it was Disney and Iron Giant was Warner Bros. Which Warner Bros. has a great history of iconic animated tv series, but their animated features tend to be lacking.

            But for the most part I get the feeling that 2D animation has become sort of like art house films, those that love animation for the art form still love it and want more of it. But the general audiences prefer 3d because it’s more pleasing to the eye and they don’t necessarily care about the effort, not to say doing 3D animation doesn’t take effort.

  • Great!
    It did’t seem like a real “discussion” but startet to get veeeery interesting in the last 15 minutes.

  • Bee

    That’s not a different group of directors at all – they’re all men.

    • Alberto

      So all men are the same?

  • your neighbour

    they speak and think the same way. they all come out from the same mold. Nothing new.

    • Lauren

      Glad I’m not the only one who thought this. They may be first time, but they’re still too safe.

    • I wouldn’t be that sure. I think they are just being prudent and educated with their partners.

      That’s the “right” way to act, I guess, but I’ll give that sometimes we need somebody like John K. He is controversial but sometimes that attitude helps to change things.

      Genndy Tartakovsky and Chris Butler seem kinda different to the others. The first one is being pretty sincere about the things he doesn’t like and the second one looks as he has worked in a pretty different enviroment to the rest.

      However, I’m afraid Chris Butler’s gag at the end is scarily accurate. While they won’t probably be directed by the same guys, there will be a Hotel Transylvania 2, and surely Rise Of The Guardians 2. Even Brave 2 or Wreck-It-Ralph 2 don’t look so unbelievable. Actually ParaNorman is the only one that is most probably free of that curse.

      • Gary

        Has there ever been a notable sequel to a stop-motion animated movie? Can’t think of any off top of my head. Is that because it doesn’t have as strong an audience base, and therefore, the same commercial appeal, as CGIs? So there might be a reason why all these CGIs might see a sequel, while ParaNorman wouldn’t.

        • I kinda hope The Pirates! can break that trend. Unlike most of the Dreamworks/Sony/Pixar movies this one does look like something that could work in different chapters. The characters could live very different adventures each time. The problem with most of the other animated sagas (especially Pixar or Disney) is that the first movie has a message that seems to be the whole point of telling the story in the first place, so the other chapters look a little forced in comparison (I’d say it even happens, slightly, in Toy Story). The Pirates does have some kind of message about friendship but it’s mostly about the pirate crew, the adventure and the gags. They could have different, unrelated chapters in the way of Wallace and Gromit or Indiana Jones. They could even give the spotlight to other pirates instead of the captain in some of them.

  • Outstanding.

  • Barney Miller

    I find it interesting that 4 out of the 5 directors are replacements. It begs the question: Why do so many directors get fired off their projects and replaced in animation?

    I know that directors leave projects in live action, but it’s normally during development not pre-production or production. I’m sure the DGA has something to do with that.

  • Animation Directors do not have the same safe guards that live action ones do. It works a little bit more like the old Hollywood system with respect to animation directors. Hence, you do not have the same leverage that a live action movie would give you as a director of an animated feature. Plus, who is to say if all 5 of these guys, or the folks they replaced, worked under the “DGA” rules (contract) on these movies. They probably did, but it is not that uncommon to have non DGA movies in the market place.

  • Peter Ramsey’s comments in the last 15 minutes (regarding the future of 2D) were very interesting to me. If dumb parents and dumber executives are rejecting 2D in favor of 3D, perhaps features aren’t really the answer. Imagine having a web-based new media experience with the scope and success of Homestuck, but with the visuals and quality animation of a film. That’s what independents and students should be shooting for. A two-minute film isn’t going to change a damn thing in terms of how audiences perceive 2D, but if you suddenly start creating content with the web in mind- combining gaming, community, music, and animation in creative ways, and then distributing it on the sites people spend the most time on- you’ve got a recipe for a phenomenon. I’ve said it on this site before and I’ll say it again…the Internet needs a high quality project so people can take a web-based distribution model seriously, and hand-drawn animation needs a new distribution model. It’s potentially a match made in heaven.

  • Sad that Mark did not mention Brenda