I had the privilege to attend Laika’s 3-D Film celebration, Laika brought some on screen figures and prints from each on their films for viewing. It was amazing to be able to see the attention to detail that goes into every piece up close. #Photography is Important
Last Thursday at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York City, Laika president and CEO Travis Knight revealed future plans for his Portland-based stop motion studio.
Knight, who directed the studio’s newly released Kubo and the Two Strings, explained during a conversation with filmmaker and historian John Canemaker that Laika is not only ramping up feature film production, but will begin to explore a broader ranger of subject matter than the studio’s first four feature films, which have all featured child protagonists.
Cartoon Brew received an exclusive transcript of the discussion between Knight and Canemaker. Below, we present some highlights of the conversation about where Laika is headed, beginning with a discussion about a shift in the studio’s subject matter:
John Canemaker: You’ve said Kubo is a final culmination of the four features you’ve done that focus on childhood. Where are you and Laika going next?
Travis Knight: Adulthood. This film is a good bye in a number of different ways. The themes that it deals with – loss and grief. But it also deals with healing, compassion, forgiveness and empathy. And so, it is, effectively, the end of this first cycle of films that we’ve done at the studio. The things we’ve got coming are completely different. Our next film does not feature a child protagonist. I don’t even know that there are any children in it at all. I wouldn’t say it’s adult-oriented. But it’s a different kind of a film for us. It’s still intended for families, but it’s a different kind of a story.
John Canemaker: Is it a genre film, like film noir or science fiction, or a western?
Travis Knight: It’s a blend of things we haven’t really tackled before. We’ll probably announce before the end of the year. It’s really interesting aesthetically, tonally. Completely different from what we’ve done before. The thing that excites me is that I know that the handful of films we’ve got coming down the road and they’re so totally different from what we’ve done. The film following the next one, it’s just so unusual, so interesting.
Knight also said that he aims to ramp up production to the point where the studio is releasing a film annually instead of one every two years as it currently does:
Travis Knight: Right now we’re on a cycle where films come out every two years. In large measure, that limitation is a function of space. Because, unlike CG, you need real estate, a place to build these sets, these puppets…On Kubo, this is the first time we were shooting two films concurrently. While finishing up on Kubo, we started our next production, so we’re shooting out shooting two films at once for the first time. You only have so much time on this planet. The way we make films, there’s only so many films you can do in that time that you have. And I want to tell so many different kinds of stories, in so many genres. So we have to figure out a way to overlap these productions. Ultimately, the goal is to be on an annual cycle – releasing a film every year. That’s where we want to be. We are a ways from that but we are shrinking the period between releases.
As for sequels, don’t expect them from Laika anytime soon:
Travis Knight: I take a firm stand against sequels. My industry brethren are a little shocked at how firmly I’m committed to not doing sequels. Of course there are great sequels. Godfather II, The Empire Strikes Back. But I think if you look at where our industry is going, it’s dominated by franchises and brands, re-dos, re-makes, sequels and prequels, where all these old presents are re-wrapped and offered up as new gifts. The pendulum has gone so far in that one direction. We used to go to movies to see stories about ourselves. It would transport us to new worlds and we’d see aspects of ourselves reflected back. As TV has become more like movies, movies have become more like TV. It’s gone the other way. There are these serials, these continuing stories that are a regurgitation of the same things we’ve seen over and over again. And I have no interest in doing that.
You know how hard it is to make these things. You put so much of yourselves into these movies. It does come at a cost. You give and give and give to these movies. If we’re going to do that, it needs to matter; it has to mean something. I don’t want to tell the same stories over and over again. The way we approach our stories is we imagine each film as if it’s the most meaningful experience of our protagonist’s life. If that’s your point of view, your sequel is automatically either going to be (A) a diminishment of that – is it the second most important experience of your protagonist’s life? Or, (B) you’ve got to crank up the volume so much, everything’s sensory overload, and becomes comical how much you have to ratchet it up to justify its existence. I’m not interested in that. I don’t want to do that. I want to tell new and original stories.
And what about making a hand-drawn feature, an idea that Knight first floated in 2014? He’s still enthused by the idea, though it doesn’t seem likely to happen anytime soon:
Travis Knight: I hope within the fullness of time, before I shuffle off this mortal coil, I absolutely hope that we do a 2-D film. They’ve always been a part of what we’ve done. I guess I just have a fixation for moribund art forms. Because nobody is working meaningfully in 2-D feature films anymore. [S]ome of the most beautiful animation ever in existence was done in 2-D. As I was telling you earlier, that’s effectively how I learned to animate. By studying the great 2-D animation. It’s a real shame for me to see this beautiful art form that gets neglected, when you could still so beautifully tell a story. We just don’t see it done very often. I would love to take the same prism that we apply to stop motion—take what we love about this medium, and try to do find a way to do something new with it. In the fullness of time, I would absolutely love to do that.
LAIKA Moving Forward With 2D Film, Adding 150 New Jobs (x)
“In July 2014, we learned that LAIKA’s CEO Travis Knight hoped to make a hand-drawn animated film at some point in the future when he spoke at San Diego Comic-Con. Today, Knight has revealed that future to be sooner than expected.
The studio has created critically-acclaimed and visually stunning stop motion films including ParaNorman and Coraline, and is currently releasing its fourth film Kubo and the Two Strings on August 19.
Knight explained in an interview with Variety that LAIKA will begin adding more than 150 new jobs over this year to prepare for the hand-drawn film. He also mentioned that the film’s script will be written by Chris Applehans, a concept artist who has worked closely with the studio on their previous films.
The Joker (The Dark Knight) - Dr. Hannibal Lector (Silence of the Lambs) - Stansfield (Leon: The Professional ) - Kyung-chul (I Saw The Devil) - Travis Bickle (Taxi Driver) - Tony Montana (Scarface 1983) - Bill “The Butcher” (Gangs of New York) - Tyler Durden (Fight Club) - Patrick Bateman (American Psycho) - Calvin Candie (Django Unchained)
Laika has made a name for themselves with their hand-crafted stop-motion animated feature films like Coraline, ParaNorman and the upcoming movie Boxtrolls. But the Portland-based animation studio wants to help hand-drawn animation make a comeback. During the Boxtrolls Hall H presentation at 2014 San Diego Comic Con International, Laika head Travis Knight would like to do a 2D hand-drawn animated feature film. Find out more about a possible Laika hand-drawn animation feature film, after the jump.
Animation directors round table with Bonnie Arnold (How To Train Your Dragon 2), Jorge Gutierrez (The Book of Life), Travis Knight (The Boxtrolls), Tomm Moore (Song of the Sea), Dan Lin (The Lego Movie) and Don Hall (Big Hero 6)
As young men most of us think it’s our destiny to become the brave Knight who rescues the Princess from the castle guarded by the crazed fire breathing Dragon, and live happily ever after… It wasn’t until getting married with my first little girl on the way that I realized our true destiny doesn’t stop there. Eventually we become husbands, fathers, then grandfathers and so on, which ultimately leads us to our undeniable fate and final form… becoming the crazed fire breathing Dragon ourselves… So on behalf of fathers everywhere, future, past and present… Knights beware. WE MUST PROTECT THIS HOUSE!!!
On the heels of Marc Jacobs “leaking” his own ad campaign, Alexander Wang is taking it a step further. The designer, who reportedly got the boot from Balenciaga last year and is focusing in his eponymous label, launched a new Instagram account (@wangsquad) to give sneak peeks of (and certainly garner buzz surrounding) his Spring/Summer 2016 campaign. The account’s page consists entirely of polaroid headshots of his models, which include his favorite go-to girls, such as Lexi Boling, Binx Walton, and Anna Ewers, as well as newer faces like Peyton Knight, Stella Lucia, Molly Bair, and Kaia Gerber. But then there are the famous faces (think: K Pop star CL, Travis Scott, Baauer, Makonnen, and Lucien Smith).
Interestingly, but not surprisingly, of the photos that have been posted thus far (and Wang’s PR team says there will be more to come), CL has garnered the most love.
This week, Laika and Focus Features release their stop-motion animated feature The Boxtrolls in theaters nationwide, and it seems poised to stand alongside Laika’s previous films Coraline and ParaNorman in the ranks of offbeat, slightly spooky, perennial family favorites.
ComicsAlliance got the chance to speak with some of the film’s creative team at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, and today we present our conversation with acclaimed animator and Laika CEO Travis Knight.
ComicsAlliance: This film is based on Alan Snow’s book Here Be Monsters. How did you end up with this property, and what changes did you make, aside from the title?
Travis Knight:The Boxtrolls is something that we started developing at basically the same time that the company formed, nearly ten years ago. We had two things that we were developing at the time. We had Here Be Monsters, and we had Coraline. And we were just getting going, so we didn’t really have a proper development department. There were only a handful of us, we didn’t have a vast army of people, and so we devoted most of our energies to developing Coraline, and Here Be Monsters was kind of on a slow burn.
I loved the book the first time I read it. It had shadings of a lot of great classic children’s literature, the stuff that I loved growing up, things like Charles Dickens and Roald Dahl. It had this absurdist perspective on the world, which was kind of consistent with Monty Python, and that sort of thing. It was this big, mad, beautiful book, filled with ideas. And the trick was, how can you distill the essence of this 500-550 page novel down to a ninety minute film, and that’s what took so much time.
It was a handful of us working on it over almost a decade, trying to get that story down to a beautiful core film story – and in the end, we found something that we thought was kind of meaningful on a personal level, but also had something to say about the larger society.