Behind the scenes of The Fantastic Mr Fox
Chief animator Andy Gent on the making of the film
Andy Gent, chief animator on Wes Anderson’s The Fantastic Mr Fox, reveals the cinematic inspiration behind the project and the difficulties inherent in making a stop-animation film.
'As well as being a huge fan of Roald Dahl, Wes loves old films like Ladislas Starevitch’s ‘Roman de Renard’ and the original ‘King Kong’. He wanted to attain a vintage quality in this film and we embraced that,’ Gent states.
A crew of 140 people worked all day, every day for a year to make it happen and, as one would expect from a Wes Anderson production, paying attention to the smallest of details was paramount throughout the process.
‘It took seven months alone to make the first model of the fox and then we had to fashion 535 puppets in six different sizes and fit them with multiple costumes. Wes oversaw the whole process down to the eyelashes and eyelids. We even had to invent miniature knitting needles to make the clothes.’
Although it is not a new technique, stop-animation renders an utterly unique visual quality that has meant that filmmakers return to it time and again. Movement is built up through accretion, frame by frame, meaning that the creation of one shot alone can take days.
Gent admits that it’s an arduous method to use, but that the final results reap rewards. ‘Each stage of the production, from creating the initial drawings to finalising the models, was full of electric moments for us’. Having only just seen the film recently himself, he says that he felt an ‘immense feeling of achievement’ seeing it up on the big screen.