Cryptozoo Cryptozoo

Dash Shaw’s Cryptozoo, a tale of humans fighting over the fates of mythical creatures come to life, is an emphatically indie, exuberantly experimental work of psychedelic animation. But it has more in common with Hollywood than meets the eye, says the director, who compares it to “a weird dream version of a big movie” like Jurassic Park.

Shaw and animation director Jane Samborski spoke to INBTWN Animation Fest, the online event partner of Cartoon Brew, about their new film, which is now in theaters and on video on demand. They discuss everything from their research into legendary beings, to the influence of Hollywood and pop art, to their experience of working with a team for the first time.

Watch the interview with Shaw and Samborski below:

Shaw explains why the baku, a Japanese “elephantine being that sucks dreams,” was the right creature to build the film around. The pair talk through the difficulties of bringing the baku to life, visually and aurally.

Samborski cites the cut-out shadow puppets of Lotte Reiniger, with all their technical restrictions, as a major inspiration for Cryptozoo. She says she sometimes grows bored of her own style, at which point limitations like these come in useful. The resulting “tension between the realism I want and what my puppet will actually achieve” generates an artistic spark.

The husband-and-wife team previously collaborated on the 2016 feature My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea. They run through what they took away from their first film, and what they had to learn when making Cryptozoo. In the end, though, experience is only one ingredient for success. As Shaw puts it, the creative process is equally dependent on a “weird naïveté” — a complete focus, free from distracting thoughts of how audiences will react.

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Cole Delaney

Cole Delaney hosts and produces Cartoon Brew's industry podcast.

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