Looking back at two of his classics, The Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline, Selick explains, “I have this special fondness… something me and the crew worked on many years ago has this other life and that people have taken hold of it.”
Now he, and Netflix, will be hoping they’ve found a similar perennial magic with Wendell & Wild, co-written and produced by Jordan Peele.
Although Selick has worked in different mediums within animation, stop motion holds a special place in his heart. “There’s something about real objects… being hand manipulated and brought to life, that is always gonna bring me back. It’s the oldest type of animation and I think it has the strongest magic.”
That magic, he explains, is linked directly to the craft of stop motion and how it manifests on screen. “If you make stop motion so perfect so it looks like computer animation, what’s the point? Just make it computer animation.”
Selick says that with Wendell & Wild he embraced the visual flaws of the medium rather than keeping them “hidden away.”
“I wanted to have evidence of it. I think the audience needs to work a little bit to make the magic real, but then the movie means more to them,” he explains.
It’s a philosophy that he tried to embrace in the past, but wasn’t allowed due to meddling by those above him in the productions.
“In Coraline I wanted to leave the seam line in… because I saw everyone noticed it at first but they weren’t thinking about it after five minutes. I couldn’t quite win over the people in power,” he recalls.
That was not the case on Wendell & Wild, though. On this film, Selick worked with artist Pablo Lobato to give the characters a distinct visual style, warts – or seams as it were – and all. Selick praises Lobato’s work, saying that he created the “most beautiful and artistic caricatures” and that they “really capture the essence of someone.”