As long as Netflix keeps viewership figures hidden, we can’t know exactly who is watching I Lost My Body. One thing’s for sure, though: Jérémy Clapin’s cosmically strange feature about a severed hand in search of its body has two big fans in Phil Lord and Chris Miller.
Ahead of the Academy Awards, where I Lost My Body is nominated for best animated feature, Lord and Miller sat down with Clapin for a video interview. The pair, who won the Oscar last year with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (co-produced by both and co-written by Lord), clearly admire the way Clapin’s film expands the language of animation.
The feeling is mutual: Clapin credits Spider-Verse with carving out a niche for more adult-oriented animation, which I Lost My Body then filled. In a wide-ranging discussion, he talks about everything from his reaction to winning the grand prize at Cannes’s Critics’ Week — a first for an animated film — to the quirks of his production pipeline. A running theme is the ways in which the film subverts expectations of the medium. “There are no boundaries in animation,” says Clapin. “The only boundaries we have are from the industry.”
The project both suffered and benefited from its unconventionality, the director says. When the film failed to get funding, its producer Marc du Pontavice stumped up the budget himself. The result: more freedom for Clapin and his team to develop the film in their own way.
He discusses the film’s mixing of genres, and adds that this approach made production easier: “When I was working on an action sequence, and I needed to rest a bit, I could move to a romantic sequence.” Elsewhere, he reveals that he staged the voice recording session like a live-action shoot, encouraging his cast to emote with their bodies and improvise. “The characters in my film are not caricatures, and I need this kind of subtleness,” he says.
Lord and Miller are well-placed to understand the shades of difference between storytelling in live action and animation — they’ve found success in both mediums. The pair made their names writing and directing Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and The Lego Movie, before pivoting to live action with 21 Jump Street and its sequel. They draw on their experience in their chat with Clapin, turning it into something closer to a discussion among peers than an interview.
“I Lost My Body” was produced by France’s Xilam and subsequently acquired by Netflix, where it’s available to watch globally.