Anthony Stacchi and Graham Annable won’t have to wear boxes or live in the shadowy underground. The Boxtrolls filmmakers are enjoying a victory lap as their stop-motion animated feature, which already charmed audiences, collects nominations for best animated film from the Golden Globes, the BAFTA Awards, the Annie Awards and, most recently, the Academy Awards.
Just a few days before they locked their Oscar nomination, Spinoff Online chatted with Stacchi and Annable at the BAFTA Los Angeles Tea Party, where they celebrated both their slew of honors and the release – just this week – of the Blu-ray and DVD.
Only a few days later, the filmmakers sent a note about their Oscar nod. “One word – HONORED!" the filmmakers said in a collective statement. "We are honored and humbled to accept this nomination in recognition of our amazingly talented cast and crew – the artists, actors, craftspeople, and freaks who brought The Boxtrolls to life. We are eternally grateful to them and to our fearless leaders, producers Travis Knight and David Bleiman Ichioka, for making it all possible. Thank you so much, Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, for including us in this great list of nominees! We would be thrilled to sit in the dark and clap for any one of them.”
Spinoff Online: Blu-ray releases always offer audiences a deeper look into the making of films like yours. What's your favorite feature among the many extras?
Graham Annable: I loved seeing that we got a lot of deleted scenes on there. I know that telling stories, it's always fascinating to see the roads that you did or didn't go down and all those extra little pieces.
Anthony Stacchi: We spent about two years making the ballroom dancing sequence. It took two years to make, and it's less than two minutes on the screen. And you get to see a lot of the things that went into making that. And we shot live-action footage. We did practice tests. We sought CG reference and stuff. So it's kind of great to see what a simple scene it looks in the movie, but how complicated it was to do in stop motion.
What got you excited when audiences finally got the chance to see the movie and you saw the response to it?
Annable: It's always just so thrilling to have and listen to the audience respond to things. I think, for me, personally, it's the villain's demise at the end of the film that I always get a kick out of sneaking into the theater and listening to the crowd reaction to all that. It was a moment we very carefully crafted for a long time and to have it pay off is very thrilling.
What has the success of the film mean for your next project, and the next projects for Laika?
Stacchi: I hope every successful film builds a little bit of an audience that looks forward to the next Laika film or looks forward to stop motion animation. So I think if we've been able to do that with each one of the films. And we also took that film in a little bit of a different direction. Sir Ben Kingsley's character, Snatcher, was, for us, a huge revelation, working with Sir Ben to come up with that character. And I think he came up with one of the most complex characters we've ever done, and I think it will make us more interested in delving into characters like that in the future.
Annable: [Laika's] announced the fourth film, which is >o?Kubo, A Tale of 2 Strings, and aesthetically it's so different from The Boxtrolls, and it's exciting to see. We've only gotten glimpses of what they've been up to up there, and it looks extraordinary.
Stacchi: Yeah. And these things are measured in minutes. They have about ten minutes done on it. They've been working for a few months. In another 18 months or so, it will be finished.
Even though the public sometimes thinks of stop-motion animation as an old-fashioned technology, you keep pushing the form forward. Will there be a technology jump in the way that the next movies are made?
Stacchi: With every successive film the technology, whether it's rapid prototype printed faces or how we integrate the CG department which does set extensions and special effects, it gets better every time. Yeah, this film definitely has some elements that need a nice hybrid marriage between the computer and stop motion.