Q: The animation seems so realistic it could almost be done in live-action. Why did you choose to make it so realistic?
PL: Strangely enough I did try to take it further away from reality. The figures are extreme, like Fellini, but somehow the end effect is curiously natural. One was as thin as a skeleton, some were highly inflated, they had strangely shaped heads, in that way I tried to take it away from reality for precisely that reason. On the other hand I love animating that way, I can’t resist it. And it communicates well. The better you am-mate, the better you act, the better you communicate. To me acting is what animation is all about. I am the whole cast.
Q: The proportions of your characters are like a human being whereas other puppet animators have larger heads compared to body size.
PL: It would be easy to make them with big heads and little bodies but it is aesthetics. It is just my way. Sometimes, under commercial pressure I have tried to design a different way but I just can’t do it.
Q: In the big dining room every frame must have taken you ages with so many puppets to manipulate.
PL: It wasn’t only me. There were three animators. There were doors in the room where the guests came in and the animators came in through the doors.
Q: Did you have the sound track first?
PL: Yes, we laid the speech track first. I storyboarded the whole piece in advance to show the camera angles but not the movements.
Q: On what reference did base your characters?
PL: When we started we talked about George Grosz (the German satirical artist 1839-1959). They don’t look like George Grosz but that was the thinking point. There were four of us making them. We would think of a bird or a wolf or a farmer or something like this so you have different types. The humorous thing to me is when I see the room full of characters I can also see the four people who made the heads because each one is, to some extent, a self portrait. When they sculpt they always make self-portraits.
Q: You don’t try to make models of real people then?
PL: Not of people — but of types. We also used the Seven Deadly Sins as a hook, for something to focus on.
Q: There was one character who resembled Hitler. The moustache was not correct but the hair was like his?
PL: That was not intentional. It was more George Grosz. In fact we spent a lot of time trying to avoid such references.
Q: How long did it take to make?
PL: It was nine months work spread over a longer period of time.
Q: What does the Sweet Disaster part of the title refer to?
PL: David Hopkins wrote five scripts for five different directors. They form a group with the collective heading Sweet Disaster. Four films are animated and one is live-action. Dreamless Sleep, directed by David Anderson, won an award at Zagreb in 1986.
Inside Job – Aidan Hickey
At the dentist’s, a mouth is strongly immobilized. While the dentist is called away to the phone a mad dentist enters and removes all the patients gold fillings.
The director, Aidan Hickey was born in 1942 in Dublin, Ireland. A painter, an art teacher, an illustrator, since 1978 he has been producing TV series for children. He made A Dog’s Tale in 1981.
QUESTION: How did you get that terrifying idea? Many of us in the audience will not be able to go to the dentist without thinking of that.
AIDAN HICKEY: Yes, I’ve had difficulty going back to my dentist. He made the sound effects for me without knowing what it was for. He thought I was making a dental health flint. I am not at all sure how he will react when he finds out.
The film started simply because I couldn’t get money to make any of the other films I wanted to make. I talked to friends about very simple films. We talked about a Mel Brooks film made some years ago and this led to the idea of making a film with one drawing. I started off with several different ideas, one concerned priests in a confessional. I tried out different drawings for each of them and eventually this was the one that survived, it was the one with the most potential. I first had the dentist telling a modern folk tale about a very complicated death. This gradually evolved and became combined with elements from The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.