Sarah Smith Talks Arthur Christmas

After completing Arthur Christmas, director Sarah Smith had a chance to chat about the first collaboration between Aardman and Sony.

What was it like creating a combination of the traditional and modern approach to Santa?

We never thought of it as a recipe — oh, we need bit of this and we need a bit of that — in a way, it entirely comes from the original concept of how could you really get the job done in today’s world and what would it take? And then you come up with this brilliant and amazing high-tech operation: the idea that things have changed with the times. And in a funny way, it just seems incredibly obvious. And you think: Of course, why would Santa still be the Victorian [image]? He’s moved as times change. But in the middle of that, when the high-tech operation fails, the only way to do it is the old way. It’s not an either or and it’s not a kind of formula to try and please the audience, particularly with the logic of the story, which is, when the big machine breaks down and all you’ve got is the sleigh in the shed to do it with. And the whole point of the movie is not that one way is good and the other is bad; it’s that why of it all, really.

What was your take away?

The thing about animation is that it’s an incredibly enormous and intense experience. The thing I didn’t realize when I went into it was the unbelievable amount of different talents that come and give yourself to your movie, which is just gobsmacking all the way through. So many fabulous people contributed along the way. On the flipside, just the enormity of doing it is really mind-boggling. It’s sort of like the longest labor and childbirth in the world, and I haven’t had time to sit back and enjoy the baby yet to forget all of that.

What do you think Aardman’s take away is?

So far, Aardman are incredibly delighted with it. I think they feel that it is properly an Aardman movie even though it was made in different locations. The studio obviously feels creative ownership of it and the fact that’s doing well in the UK makes everyone happy. Obviously we’re waiting to see how it does in the States and elsewhere to see what that means for the future. And in terms of more CG films, I think the collaboration with Sony has been tricky but fruitful for this movie because we’re bringing together very different kinds of film cultures in doing it, but it ended up with the best of both worlds. I think one of the biggest take aways for me is that it’s incredibly, personally demanding for lots of people to keep moving their lives around the world during the making of a film. And my aspiration would be, if and when we’re ever going to do it again, it would be great to do it in a home studio all the way through. It adds such an enormous amount of pressure and asset and cost to everyone as well as the making of the movie. I so envy Pete Lord sitting in Bristol making his Pirate movie from beginning to end. But I would be the first to say that the Imageworks pipeline that they’re capable of doing would be very difficult to replicate in a startup CG environment because they are very seasoned, the pipe is very well-known.

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in 3-D, Animation, Movies, Oscar, Tech, Trailers, Virtual Production

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