Tatia Rosenthal’s acclaimed stop-motion movie $9.99 will be getting a limited release in New York and Los Angeles on June 19, and will platform throughout the month in other cities around the country. The talented Israeli-born animator was kind enough to answer a few of our questions about her fascinating movie, which was on the Oscar short list for Best Animated Feature.
Animag Online: Your stop-motion movie is certainly not for children and touches upon many grown-up topics and storylines. Can you tell us a bit about how you got involved with the project?
Tatia Rosenthal: I was a huge fan of Etgar Keret’s short stories, so I asked his permission to adapt two of his shorts into student films. Etgar responded strongly to my animated version of his story Crazy Glue and suggested we collaborate on a feature. We both felt that the combination of his literary world and my stop-motion world create a compelling cohesive universe in which to make a unique film.
We picked six of his stories, and combined them into one apartment building ‘a la Robert Altman’s Short Cuts. We wrote a few drafts of the script, always trying to be in the same place while we were writing. We found that the conversational back and forth enabled us to pick our favorite options in an immediate and organic way.
How did you get interested in stop-motion animation?
I was always a fan of the medium, admiring the works of Jan Svankmajer, Henry Selick, Nick Park and the brothers Quay to name a few, but it was only after trying it myself at Dean Lennert’s stop-motion class at NYU that I was hooked.
What was the ball-park budget for $9.99 and how many people helped create the animation with you?
The budget was low, low seven figures, and we had nine animators (working six at a time), around 20 for the art department on all its aspects, three cinematographers and a skeletal production office. I hardly animated on the film myself’one minute of screen-time.
It seems like stop motion animation has made a big comeback in the past few years Why do you find the medium so appealing?
It has something to do with its richness of texture and the potential quirkiness/originality of its actors’ acting. It is the natural medium for a certain kind of magical realist storytelling of which I’m a fan.
Who are some of your animation heroes?
Chuck Jones, Nick Park, John Canemaker, Henry Selick, Richard Conde, Jan Svankmajer and Janno P’ldma, to name a few.
What animated shows or movies appealed to you when you were younger?
Chuck Jones cartoons, Walt Disney shorts (the old Mickey and Donald stuff), anything from Jim Henson (it’s not technically animated, but he’s a huge favorite. I’m sure I’m forgetting a lot….
Many of the people we talk to tell us that we’re living in a new Golden Age of Animation. What is your take on the big animation picture in 2009?
We are, and it’s happening on both ends of the production scale from the big studio films to the indies, which with the cheaper and wider availability of technologies make filmmaking available to more artists.
What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about animation?
That it sort of animates and directs itself…that it just happens! I think the amount of choices that go into animating and directing animation is not widely understood.
Do you have any advice for people who would like to see their ideas come to life through animation?
You have to commit to making it happen. Try to use the time you spend waiting for support from the external powers that be to hone your craft and story.
What are you working on next?
I’m writing a couple of scripts (one live action, one animated’ based on a kid’s book) while freelance animating and directing in New York.
You can find out more about Tatia’s awesome movie at www.9dollars99movie.com