Wes Anderson is returning to stop-animation for the first time since 2009’s Fantastic Mr. Fox with his latest film, Isle of Dogs, the mysterious project that has assembled an A-list cast and has something to do with dogs. That’s all we’ve known about the project so far, but the director took a break from production over the weekend to give an hour-long master class, moderated by Nicolas Saada and Frédéric Bonnaud, and captured in full by captured by ArteTV (via The Playlist).
The chat goes in-depth to Anderson’s influences and creative process, from the filmmakers that have most inspired him to the unique ways different actors like to work — Gene Hackman would just as well be left alone, while Jeff Goldblum wants every detail he can get about the character, and Ralph Fiennes likes to go for a lot of takes. He also offered one particularly intriguing new detail about Isle of Dogs — it’s most inspired by the works of iconic Japanese director Akira Kurosawa, who’s not exactly known for the family-friendly fare you might expect from an animated film.
“The new film is really less influenced by stop-motion movies than it is by Akira Kurosawa,” he told the audience, which is obviously one hell of a compelling statement to a room full of film nerds. But when the moderator tried to follow-up, Anderson simply smiled and nodded his head. The director seemed reluctant to overshare about his influences in general. “The reason to hide your [inspirations] is because you’re trying to steal them,” he said. “and if you can sneak them in then you’ve gained something without having to lose something.”
When asked why he wanted to get into stop-motion filmmaking, Anderson credited his love of the classic Rankin-Bass Christmas specials. “I really liked these TV Christmas specials in America,” he explained. “I always liked the creatures in the Harryhausen-type films, but really these American Christmas specials were probably the thing that really made me first want to do it.”