‘Klaus’ Director Sergio Pablos: ‘Nostalgia Is Not Enough’ (Exclusive Video Interview)
The new year promises all kinds of enticing animated features, but few will have as unusual a pedigree as Klaus. The Santa Claus origin story, which came out in November, was picked up by Netflix after a lengthy development process. It thus became the streaming giant’s first self-produced animated movie, and the first 2d animated feature to receive a sizeable budget from a U.S. company in years. To top it all, it adopted a groundbreaking approach to lighting and texturing hand-drawn characters.
We’re capping off our in-depth coverage of the film with a video interview with Sergio Pablos, its director. Watch it below:
Pablos cut his teeth as a Disney artist in the 1990s — when it was “not a smart decision” to enter the industry, as he puts it — before returning to his native Spain and founding what is now SPA Studios. Even as he co-created the Despicable Me franchise and worked on other high-profile cg films, he never lost sight of hand-drawn animation’s potential, and it’s to this medium that he turned for Klaus, his directorial debut.
In the interview, he discusses the difficulties of developing an original narrative, and of telling it in a medium many major studios dismissed as obsolete. He confesses that the plot of Klaus, which was loosely inspired by origin stories like Batman Begins, initially struck him as too “sappy.” Only when he saw the irony in it — namely, the fact that an “asshole” inadvertently creates the myth of Santa — was he ready to develop it.
The real challenges then began, as Pablos cast around for a team with 2d know-how. He discovered that layout artists in the traditional feature animation style were more difficult to find than in the past, and so decided to hire concept designers and train them in the requisite skills. “We had to find the talent wherever it was,” he says. “A lot of times, it was about betting on guys who [didn’t] have a lot of experience.” He also goes into then film’s unique pipeline, explaining why he sought not just to revive 2d animation, but to make it evolve.
Cartoon Brew has also discussed some of the topics Pablos touches on with other members of the film’s crew. See below for our previous coverage.