Stephen anderson meet the robinsons

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stephen anderson meet the robinsons

Stephen John Anderson is an American animator, film director, screenwriter, and voice Stephen Anderson at premiere of Meet the Robinsons in March Meet the Robinsons by Walt Disney Home Entertainment by Stephen J. Anderson: Stephen J. Anderson: Movies & TV. Stephen Anderson has over ten years of experience working for Mouse House, and his latest venture, "Meet the Robinsons," is soon to appear.

A lot of times those temp voices will stick, and end up defining the actor; and that's what happened with me with Bowler Hat Guy. Some of the other crew members do character voices in the movie. Before we arrived at Bowler Hat Guy's child-like nature he had started off with much more of a British accent, and much more refined, as a much more stealthy, composed villain, a little bit like Terry-Thomas.

What is it like being part of the new digital style of Disney animation? It is really exciting to be one of the first computer movies coming out of Disney. We feel like we are a new studio, like we have just started; we just built ourselves from the ground floor and we are starting now. It is an exciting time at the studio now and it is great to be part of that, having directed this movie, and to feel the energy and the sense of re-invention.

We are starting to redefine what Disney Animation is and our new techniques and different kind of stories. It is great to have a time travel story — we have never done that before. What influence on the movie did John Lassetter have? He came in about a year ago and John and his Pixar directors took a look at the movie and really responded to the story and the characters and the look of the movie and what we were doing.

They offered to us suggestions on how to make it better, how to strengthen the comedy, or strengthen the emotion or make things clearer. How to simplify some of the ideas we had in the movie. It is always good to get fresh eyes on these movies because animation takes so long that it is easy to lose your focus sometimes.

Dica de Cinema: A Família do Futuro (Meet the Robinsons), Stephen J. Anderson - 82 de 365

They provided fresh eyes and a new perspective on some things and we were able to then make adjustments to the movie and make it better. That's funny because visually they didn't have any input. Our characters were designed before Pixar came in. Our art direction was done. They didn't have any effect on that or the worlds that we created or the modeling. That was all us. Their input was from a story standpoint. What sort of suggestions did Pixar make? One of the things suggested was about Bowler Hat Guy, who when Pixar came in was a comic villain.

He was silly and a buffoon but there were also moments when he was a very threatening villain and they suggested something that was very interesting because we had not thought of it. It was simply that he was so silly in the silly moments that it was very hard to take him seriously in the threatening moments.

Was there a way to make adjustments and get more threat into the movie? We did not want to change the character into the standard threatening villain, so what we did was that we developed the character of Doris, his bowler hat. She was in the movie before but we elevated her status to be the primary villain. Originally Bowler Hat Guy and Doris were on an equal footing but we said let's make her the real brains of the outfit and a villain with a deeper and darker agenda than Bowler Hat Guy is aware of.

In the beginning you think that Doris is the side-kick and Bowler Hat Guy is the villain and then you realize that he is the patsy and she is the dominant. It is kind of a fun twist that Doris, the bowler hat is an evil consciousness that wants to take over the world! The idea of a hat with an evil consciousness is pretty funny. The fact that it is a female hat is funny too. All that is unique, I don't think you have seen anything like that before. It makes it really fun to watch.

When did you read the book that inspired the film? That was my first exposure to the book. The connection that I did have to the material, when I read the first script was the adoption aspect of the movie. I was adopted when I was an infant — I wasn't in an orphanage, there is a different situation to Lewis.

But when I read the script, the questions that Lewis was asking about his past, where he came from, who his birth mother was, why did she give him up? I had asked those exact, same questions ever since I could remember. So I immediately connected to that kid. So it kind of depends on where you are in the process, and some stages require -- maybe micromanaging isn't the right word -- but require looking at the details and really working on details, versus other stages that require much more of a big picture way of thinking.

The mascot for Lewis and Goob's school is a dinosaur. Why such a past mascot for a future-looking film? Is there some symbolism there? It's actually a reference to another one of William Joyce's books. William Joyce is the author and illustrator of the book that our movie is based on, and he had another very popular book called Dinosaur Bob, which is about a giant green brontosaurus.

So we were making a reference to Bill Joyce's other book by choosing the green brontosaurus and calling the team the Dinos.

It was an inside joke to Bill Joyce. You had such a diverse cast that I could spend the entire interview asking you to tell me about this person or that person and not get through them all. But one person you did cast is an actor near and dear to my childhood -- Adam West. What was behind that selection, and what was he like to work with?

He was somebody who It's interesting, sometimes, with actors, especially when you have some of the more broad, comedic, crazier moments like we have in "Meet the Robinsons" with the family, and you tell the actors what they're going to be performing. You say, "Okay, now in this scene, it's the family dinner and suddenly one of your family members jumps up on the table and starts throwing meatballs across the table, and you're getting hit with the meatball.

He would never question the surreal nature of any of the stuff we were doing. He bought it, he believed it, and he did it in a very natural way.

He never mugged, he never tried to make it silly or goofy or cartoony. He was a complete professional, such a joy to work with, the nicest man, and really just understood the subversive and childlike nature of the Robinsons and of the character he was playing. It was a real treat for me to be able to work with him.

How closely do you work with the musicians? Obviously with Danny Elfman who did the composition, but also with the soundtrack contributors like Rob Thomas and Rufus Wainwright? We were talking before about micromanaging versus big picture. As far as the songs go, my involvement is early on.

stephen anderson meet the robinsons

We met with Rufus and with Rob and just talked overall about the movie and about the moments we would like them to have songs with. We talked thematically, talked emotionally, and about the arc of the film -- and then sort of let it be, and let them go away and absorb that and express what they were thinking and feeling about those particular moments. So the specifics of the songs is all them, and it was really just up to me to kind of give them the context.

And the songs that they came up with, I couldn't be happier with. I had just gone off on Tarzan and was asked to go help them to do some storyboard. Again, on Brother Bear, the creation of the story began in some other directions. How did you deal with that? I had come on those two films really early, from pretty much the beginning, helping to shape the story with the team and the directors.

On Brother Bear, I think they had been working for about two years already on the story when I got onto the movie.

Stephen Anderson: Meet the Director Behind "Meet the Robinsons"

On a total of four years, I was on for about two and they had been on it for about a year and a half — two years already when I started. So I kind of came in the middle of it and the crew already knew each other, they had a dynamic.

So when I came in, I had to learn and understand very quickly the personalities who were there, and the structure and the dynamic that were in the room. Then, I got involved with the story and tried to figure out with the director what the movie really was about. What I did the most was to ask them a lot of questions. I asked the directors constantly what the movie was about, what were the themes of the film, who they though this character was.

The director is the director of the story. That kind of was how I saw my role on that film. So this kind of training must have been instrumental in your approach to story, I guess. Character is the primary tool that we as storytellers have to connect with an audience. How did you become aware of the Meet the Robinsons project? I was just finishing up Brother Bear and I had expressed interest to the studio, probably prior to getting on to the Brother Bear project, that I was interested in directing someday.

So they were aware that I was interested in doing that, and they had this script that, at the time, was called A Day With Wilbur Robinson that they developed while I was working on Brother Bear. There were two development executives and a writer that were working on this script. Toward the end ofthey came to me and said: Where do I come from?

Who is my birth mother? Why did she give me up? Those kinds of questions. I understood his questioning of the past and about where you come from. I understood those questions and immediately felt that I knew how to tell this story. I understood this boy, I knew his thoughts and feelings.

stephen anderson meet the robinsons

I could do that film. So, I immediately said: It immediately sparked passionately. The first intention, as the book was going through its adaptation, was to do a live-action film. They ended up doing it over in animation. So it was in animation for many years, off the shelf and on the shelf again, and back off the shelf.

But this particular script added the time travel and the orphan element, those things that really bring the story to life and give it something unique. At our time when anything is possible in live-action, what potential did you see in that script that suggested it needed to be done in animation?

Stephen J. Anderson

These really larger than life ideas that Bill Joyce put into his books, characters, really, with all their pushed quality. Those are the kind of characters that you want to create in animation. In live-action, they would be just people in costumes. You made your debut as a director on Meet the Robinsons.

What did you learn from this experience from a technical point of view? The biggest challenge on a technical level in making the film for me was bringing human characters to life. We were always asking ourselves in terms of animation, in terms of the look of the characters, skin textures, hair, all that kind of things.

We kept asking ourselves: But we could also go to far the other way: We knew that if they were too real, sometimes you can go so real that something is unreal after a while and they can look very robotic, puppet-like, mannequin-like, but not like real flesh-and-blood people. And you also loose the ability to bring out that emotion in the characters again. So we just really wanted to walk the balance between those two, between cartoony and realistic and find the right balance.

You still have a really clear shape language, a caricature to them, non-realism; but at the same time, the skin texture feels real, you feel the muscles and the bones in their design, the hair texture feels like real hair, not there to ground you in reality because the shape language that we used to design the characters keeps it away from being a literal reality.

So, to me, from a technical standpoint, that was a big challenge for us in making the movie. And what did you learn from the human point of view through that experience? Before I make a decision, I would tend to plan, and plan, and plan, make a schedule and over-plan any decision before I actually make the leap.

We were pressed for time constantly. There were so many times when we just had to make a leap, to just do something. I had to just put something out there. To me, it was really a process of getting over that fear of failure.

Like the movie talks about, my over-planning was a product of not wanting to make the wrong decision and ultimately fail.

Stephen Anderson: Meet the Director Behind "Meet the Robinsons" | Critical Blast

I wanted to try to make sure that if I planned everything out at the beginning, there is no way to stumble. There is no way you can avoid failure.

You just have to embrace that. You mentioned the difficulties in animating human characters in computer animation. Nothing, to me, struck the right balance that you need in order to tell a feature-length story like we were trying to tell.

So I was kind of skeptical that it was possible on a computer. The Incredibles, then made myself and our whole crew believe that was possible. The shape language is pushed, there is a real, clear, definite sense of caricature to those characters.

How did you build you animation crew? That was pretty easy because we have got just fantastically talented animators and supervising animators as well. Some of them have supervised on Chicken Little. They have already been in that situation and they have leadership skills as well as animation skills to do this. We were so fortunate to have the kind of animation team we have at Disney.