From the early YouTube sensation to the critically acclaimed feature, Marcel the shell with shoes Distance traveled. In fact, the eponymous stereoscopic shell covers greater distances than ever before in the hauntingly enchanting A24 film, which arrives at In theaters June 24. It’s a fine work of Dean Fleischer-Camp, who is credited as director, producer, co-writer, co-editor, and co-star as well as Jenny Slate, who delivers one of the most hilarious voiceover shows in animation history. (Fleischer-Camp and Slate’s off-screen marriage, which ended after the original short films were a hit, lends the full length Marcel A subtle meta layer of vulnerability, like AV . Club reconsidering Notes.)
The film’s mix of live-action and stop-motion animation may have been small, but it wasn’t a small feat, Fleischer Camp revealed to AV . Club. The director also delves into his shared approach with Slate to emotion, the imaginative challenges of directing, and why creating comedy doesn’t always mean being a fan of comedy.
AV . Club: I cried a lot while watching this movie. It should come with some kind of warning to drink water before seeing it.
Dean Fleischer Camp: [Laughs] “Stay hydrated, guys.”
AVC: We have to cover how this movie was made. Can you explain how you did the obvious that the semi-improvised voiceover then adds the stop-motion animation?
DFC: One thing I was really committed to preserving originals It’s kind of unsettled authentic sound and that kind of documentary texture. And so we had to kind of have to come up with a new production model in order to do that. The shorts were like, it’s so much easier to imagine how that comes together because you write some jokes and just find out what works. But I knew the feature required a lot of coordination. We wanted to make a very personal and very emotionally ambitious movie. And so you have to figure out, well, how do I retain that spontaneity but also structure something in the structure of the classic scenario? And so we invented this production model where Nick Paley, our co-writer, and I had a chart, we’d write for a few months, and then record, say, two days of audio with Jenny and then later with Isabella and the rest of the cast. And we were recording all the scenes we wrote, but then we found out, oh, actually that line doesn’t work that well. And Jenny and I will work with each other and find out, How can we improvise in a better streak or do you have a better joke? And sometimes also, on purpose, I try to set up situations that will naturally unfold and we can just record them.
And what gave us this flexibility is that Jenny can stay in character all the time. I even heard her answer a phone call from her sister in Marcel’s voice by chance. It really is an incredible gift. And doing those two days in between writing is very helpful, especially working with someone as adept at improvisation as Jenny. Then Nick and I—who came from Edit, actually met Edit on a TV show together—were delving into all the audio we recorded, figuring out gems, figuring out what we liked and what we didn’t. And then that will be incorporated into the next few months of writing the script. And then we did this process, that kind of iterative process, over and over for two and a half years, basically. I think in total, we might have logged 10 or 12 days, but it was split up over that time.
AVC: I’ve never heard of a production model like this. How do you take the immobilization process into account?
DFC: So at the end of that process, I started the storyboarding with Kirsten Lepore, the director of animation, and she and I drew every single shot of the storyboard in the entire movie. Then we got back up and filmed the live action “panels,” we’d call them, which is basically the entire movie you watch, but without any of the animated characters in it. Part of what made our operation possible is our stalled cinematographer [Eric Adkins] Tuned for each day of the live event, with incredibly accurate notes on lighting. You should see his iPad, it’s just like, every time I peek at him, it was just like that. beautiful Mind Scratches equations and measurements.
This is the first step, live action. The second step is the animation part that takes place in the animation stage. And the [Adkins] It perfectly recreates the conditions that existed in the living work. So when we isolate Marcel and put him in that place, it works perfectly. I’ve been kind of describing it, everyone knows how in the Marvel movies, they’d shoot the movie and then add the special effects and a computer. And that’s it CG modeling and everything. Us like if you don’t have a computer here; You just had another shoot which was an animation shoot. And so all the lighting, you can’t do that in a computer on a budget, where everything has to be perfectly matched. Some of his notes were like, “Marcel is standing four inches from a can of Coca-Cola, which might bounce light.”
DFC: And then, you know, it gets incredibly complicated when you think about some interactive elements. Like when Marcel gets out in the car, we drive near the trees and there are shadows passing by. And every one of those flashes is a passing shadow. So he’s got his light repeating sunlight, and then he set up a flag that only moves an inch at a time, because it has to move frame by frame so we can move. So there’s a flag moving through that exactly corresponds to the time code when we passed the tree. [Laughs]
AVC: And that’s it so Jenny Slate and Isabella Rossellini, for example, can bounce the conversation off each other so organically? It’s sometimes hard to tell that voiceover actors don’t actually record together.
DFC: Oh yeah, I was totally against that. I’ve always been in the position of trying to give us as many restrictions on documentaries as possible, which, logistically speaking, I’m sure has caused our producers a million headaches. But it’s part of the reason why it looks so authentic. And so, for example, I was like, “We never record in the studio.” Almost nothing is recorded in the studio except for a few lines towards the end that we had to pick up. So everything is in a real place and all the characters are in a real place together not much different from the actual location of the scene… The path most Hollywood projects take is: you write a script and then you do the movie. I’ve always felt that robs us of a lot of what can happen with the way people interact nonverbally. So [with Marcel The Shell]You can hear it in the audio. You will never write certain lines if you are not in the same room.
AVC: I’d also like to ask you and Jenny about the seriousness, frankly. Is sincerity in fashion these days? How do you deal with the balance between seriousness and sarcasm?
DFC: In my work I have always tried to take it seriously. But also…when you say “I’m serious,” it’s easy to veer into fermentation or feeling saccharine. I grew up in a family that really used sarcasm for self-defense. [Laughs] And I think it probably did a lot of our generation. you know, The Simpsons And the Daraya– and I mean, I love those shows – there’s a very ironic sense of humor. But what the irony hides is weakness. And I’ve always tried to make a business talk about it and try to break it a little bit. Just in terms of fashion, I think it’s a bit more fashion than it used to be, with movies like Paddington kind of hack. I know people are in love Ted Lasso, which I think is trying to do something serious. But yeah, I’ve always felt so obligated to be ironic or ridiculed, you kind of shut yourself off from some of the real beauty in life through your own insincerity.
I know this won’t work in the article, but there is a French filmmaker and philosopher named Isidore Essou who had this theory I always think of, and that’s exactly what it says – he said any cultural movement, any political movement, can be basically divided into amplic stages and chisel stages. The model is set, and the cool thing to do is inflate it. And it eventually reaches its climax, at which point there’s nothing interesting about it anymore. So the only interesting thing is to remove it. Then at the end, once it’s dusted with dust, there’s a new mini-model to be set. Such is the case with a lot of things in culture, it is certainly the case with fidelity. It might also be about – you know, I think people have felt safer 20 years ago. They felt that the world was not a precarious place, and thus there was room for more cynicism and pessimism. Whereas people feel more vulnerable now.
AVC: How do you, as a director, think about what you want the audience to feel? How conscious are you of amplifying, dripping, or calibrating bitter and sweet?
DFC: I think this is like a director’s only job, to calibrate it. There are a lot of theories and rubbish about how to be a filmmaker. But it all boils down to that, to what you hope to express or what you hope to make the audience feel at each particular moment. And I think the main challenge of being a director is that you have to be there in person on the set, and you have to be in touch with what that audience is going to feel at that moment in the movie. But you are almost always in completely different conditions – you are sitting in a group. Or, for example, I’m sitting on a set watching an empty space where there will be a few shells talking to each other or something. And I have to think about it, well, this is going to be an incredibly emotional moment as he says goodbye to his grandmother. And sometimes it’s hard to separate yourself from your current reality in order to try to empathize or empathize with how your audience is going to feel at that moment.
AVC: Getting out of that, how do you handle comedy? in case if Marcel the shellAre you and Jenny walking around? Or is it that thing where comedy only results from putting yourselves in the circumstances of the story and taking it seriously?
DFC: I come somewhat from a comedic background, but I’ve always been just a fan of movies that are funny. I’m not a fan of comics like! Although I demanded them. But my brother is a stand-up comedian and my older brother is like one of the funniest people I’ve ever met, and so there’s definitely a shortcut that Jenny and I have about comedy in general. But in terms of writing a script and telling a story in a movie with a character, I always get disappointed when I watch a movie that might be good, but prioritizes jokes over the reality of the character. When you sell the truth of a character for a joke, it’s funny for a second and then there’s no more stakes on the scene. For us, I think it’s immediately obvious that if we think of a joke that’s funny but breaks the rules of Marcel’s world or breaks the bets for the next scene or emotional moment, it’s never worth it. So I always try to take the characters seriously. And Marcel, for sure, it’s important to tell his story with some kind of dignity.