On Thursday, the Motion Picture Academy honored its nominees for Best Animated Feature, in anticipation of this Sunday's Oscar broadcast. The event, hosted by Disney's Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck (Frozen), allowed the filmmakers to discuss their craft, the challenges in creating animated movies, and the state of the medium. Some clips from the gathering:
At the event, the Oscar-nominated filmmakers — from Big Hero 6, How to Train Your Dragon 2, The Boxtrolls, Song of the Sea and The Tale of Princess Kaguya — took the stage to discuss their honored work. Topics included: how stories got the green light (How to Train Your Dragon 2 was pitched as the second part of a necessary trilogy); how the idea for a movie was born (Song of the Sea features seals inspired by the ones director Tomm Moore saw dead on the beach); which parts of the story were discarded (The Boxtrolls originally ended with an armored rat attacking the town); and why directors brought co-directors on board (Big Hero 6's Don Hall needed Chris Williams because he had to be in too many places at once).
The common thread throughout the talks was this: Animation is unbelievably tiring and time-consuming, but the nominated filmmakers need to create it. Many grew up loving comic books, and then took to animation upon the realization that it meant making their comics move.
"It never felt like there was ever a choice to work in animation," Big Hero 6 co-director Don Hall told USA TODAY. "It's almost a compulsion."
But boy, are those stories hard to tell. Tony Stacchi, co-director of stop-motion film The Boxtrolls, told USA TODAY that he felt like quitting his movie plenty of times because the work was so draining.
"Any life that the puppets display, any feeling of any existence, was sucked out of the animators. We had back pain and bloody fingers" on set, he said. Working in animation "is an insane way to make a movie."
(Photo: Academy Governor Bill Kroyer with animated feature film nominees. Isao Takahata is seated at center. Credit: Aaron Poole/A.M.P.A.S.)