When Travis Knight was announced BumbariThe director, there was an increased expectation for the film, because his animation work saw an excellent work of characteristic work, wrapped in a unique visual style. Coraline, ParaNorman, Boktrolls i Cuba and two strings all were fantastic, alternative family parties with the edge, embedded in the dark corners of dysfunctional relationships while they are full of hope and heart.
Happily, Knight managed to bring the same sensibility Bumbari, which is not only the best film in franchise, but also a great movie in its own right. Here you can read our full review, but it is an absolute joy to watch old and new fans, with especially strong central performance of Hailee Steinfeld that brings real emotions to the dynamics between her and the bee. Of course, there is also an opportunity to watch Optimus Prime destructive Decepticone as it can, which takes a long way to increase the film's excitement.
We were lucky enough to sit down with Travis Knight for a long chat Bumbari and a challenge to create one's own taking on a well-established film universe …
I wanted to start opening the film and war on Cibertron – this ten-year-old part of me was excited to see the original generations of Generation 1 and the characters we grew up with. Was your plan always open with a statement saying: "I am a fan, I have this and this is my version"?
I am a fan and just like I did in the '80s, and I was a kid when I was exposed Transformers for the first time. I just thought they were so terrible, they were really different from what I've ever seen or experienced. So when we talked about Bumblebee, it's the original story of the Transformer, so it became quite understandable to set it up at the age where they began with the Transformers, which was in the mid-'80s.
Regarding the way we cast the film, I just thought it would be fun to just give a piece of the first episode Transformers miniseries, where you see the last days of Cibertron, you see Vheelack, you see Bumblebee doing their job and see Soundwave and Shockwave – it was as if we could make a couple out of it to get things out. I felt like a child. I felt like a child was creating the whole thing, sitting with the guys in ILM and making that string. Oh, my God, it was so much fun. In my brain I had a whole movie of all these things, but we can never do it, but it's like "Oh, we'll just make a part of it!"[[[[He laughs]
I'd like a whole movie about it! The opening was authentic even to the Decepticon triangular nozzles …
Yes! And I thought, "There's no way it's a coincidence!" How much have you entertained in finding a balance between the established designs of Michael Bai and the Generation 1 version?
You know that you do not start with an empty canvas – at this moment he has a directing of 10 years in a lifetime, and Michael certainly has his aesthetic. He's definitely a pretty amazing film stylist – he has his look, he has his own thing, but that's not my look, it's not my aesthetic. At the same time, in every world you have a foot, you want to make sure that it is logical – the link between this film and those that preceded it.
Likewise, I wanted to pay tribute to the original generation of design, which I think were so simple and bold and beautiful. But since this film was set 20 years before Michael's first film event, he gave him a license. Well, then I'm going back to Cibertron, for me, it was: "All bets are off! We have all the license in the world to do everything we want here!" So it was about walking in that rope. Specifically with Bumblebee, it has a design, so let's connect it to the original design of generation 1, which is more or less about simplification; giving it a clean silhouette, making it more about tiles from the interior, and that the design is not so busy, to reduce the details, so that the details left are really important and really resonate.
When I talked with designers and animators about Bumbla and the level of expression I really wanted from this character, he had to be the most preoccupied and emotional Transformer we've ever seen. Their instinct was to start adding a bunch of details and things on his face – essentially making him a metal-skinned man – and I'm like "No, no, no, that's not what works, but actually about simplification." It's about reducing the details, so the thing that's really important here is mostly down to his eyes, his antenna and a bit of his music; that's it. So, that was a sense, it was a conviction that every robot has a clear silhouette, it had a clear color palette, so at first glance we were even the new one we invented – you knew who was at any time, no matter what Anything that happens with all the battles and the work of the kinetic camera, and everything else – that you always knew what you were looking at.
One of the things I loved most about Bumbari is that you kept the scope of the war, but kept the number of characters to the hand, which really allowed the intimacy of the characters to shine. Characteristic is something that has always been a key to your work, but did it also help when entering such a huge franchise?
Yes, I think you look at the live trail of the movies and it's getting bigger and bigger, more expanding and spectacular, and I did not know where I'd go from there![[[[He laughs]I did not know how many more I could do, and I did not know how spectacular I could succeed! So, this film was really moving in the other direction – let's take this massive canvas they were painting for the last 10 years and focus on a very small angle of it; let's say a more intimate story, a personal story and a story about this relationship, about this relationship between this robot – it's really understandable to understand this robot – and this girl and the fusion of those things.
Basically, because Bumblebe has always been, in every iteration, from comic strips to cartoons to movies, that Transformer with the greatest infinity for humanity, and I thought it would be cool and exciting to explore why it is. What about his existence and his experience; why he became one character who loves people more than anyone else. Why is he the most important of us? I think this film is answering this question, that's because of the link he's working with this extraordinary girlfriend. We still want to make sure this is Transformers franchise movie, so you want to have some cool robotic fisticuffs and some high octane speeds and emergency battles – and I love these things – but the core is essentially related to the relationship, and that was the most stressed thing.
And filmmakers sometimes forget the actions you need for those emotional investments, so this becomes more than just a spectacle …
I agree with each other. It was a conversation that I repeated with my animators, with our team and stuntmen, with our fighting choreographers. It was, "Look, it's all fun. All these things are great fun to watch, but if you're not invested in your characters, who cares?" None of this makes a difference, it's just noise, it's just audible and furious and retina upper colors and pictures and the rest – you have to worry about what's happening to your characters. The end of the world does not mean anything, it's too big. You need to focus on the end of Bumblebee, or to the end of Charlie, or to the end of your family. You need to focus it. If you care about it, then you care about whether they are prevailing or failing. Everything else is just getting lost, that's too much, so you have to focus and so it was one of the things we were back in.
We hope that a lot of people have seen extreme loans Cuba and two strings, where you show the big models that are being used. Did you have a big bumblebee on the set or is it mainly CGI?
We tried to use as many of these tricks as we could. Starting from physical animation as well as the virtual background animations I wanted – along with everything we did in Laika – as far as you can, try to record things in the camera. Although these films are hybrids I've done in Laika and this movie is hybrid, because it's a live action mixed with animation, you want to try to get as much as you can. That's why we used a lot of tricks, I used a lot of my stop motion sequences for sequences with lots of robot interactions. I broke those things on stories for just one inch of my life, so everyone knew exactly what was going on, which is critical for the crew and the actors, because in reality there is nothing.
Every day and then we will stand on the stand, which is essentially a torso, only in order for the actors to feel the physical situation, what would happen if the light hit the camera lens and how it would react, which was of help to our team for visual effects. We had a guy who was a former circus performer on piles, sometimes he sometimes walked to give the crew a general feeling like "Ok, how long should one go from one side to another. What is His height?" It would be for me: " That's why it takes 36 frames for him to get there, "just because I got him in my brain! But that does not mean anything to anyone! You're trying to do everything you can to get people to visualize what's in your head, so it was a little trick for some people walking through what is set in my skull.
In the end – I'm telling the story, because I think it's so fun – but I was sitting with my cameraman, Enrique Chediak, and we were doing a scene compilation earlier and said: "Travis, I do not see a robot." And I say: "He is there This is what works. " He could not see a robot, but it's in my brain. So we go through the whole process, and after working together for weeks, weeks and weeks, we are halfway through the clip and at some point we set a new scene and talk with the compositions and says, "Travis, I see a robot!" and it was great because our processes began to blend together; my animation processes, his live-action processes – they started mixing together and I think you can see a degree on the screen.
To be able to play in the 80's has become the entire movie a nostalgic love letter of that decade – the film seems to be bearing its influence on its sleeve from E T. John Hughes is Breakfast club elected as iconic 80s, or because Judd Nelson voted Hotrod in 1986 Transformers The Movie, or both?
I'm glad you picked it up! There are many small Easter eggs in the film, which has a lot of nodding Transformers history, especially those of the '80s in the early nineties Transformers, because they were Transformers that I fell in love with. There is definitely one aspect of it. The Breakfast Club the reference was covered for a number of reasons, because I set the film in the 1980s, it was an opportunity to resist these great film titans of that era, and it is obvious that Steven Spielberg is the greatest. The guy I've been idolizing my entire life and at some level, I think he is responsible for me to become a movie creator.
But John Hughes, of all things, I think there is something particularly special in the sense that these films are made; he never talked to teenagers, he always treated such sincerity and such warmth from adolescents. He sincerely observes this experience and often spoke these stories with great humor, but also with a large pathos. I thought that as a child watching these films I always felt: "Oh, here's someone who understands what it means to be a teenager and go through these trials." So this element, I wanted to make sure that we brought in this movie. No, this is not just an old man's version of what it means to be a teenager, this is really when we seriously look at it at that time in our lives. I'm still having fun and I'm still playing with him, but by giving the climate to John Husse, I thought it was a way for the audience to directly explain what this movie really is about.
There are also guys like John Carpenter, who absolutely loved to grow up in the 1980s, his films always had some deep political messages behind them, but they always had this great sci-fi, crazy, precisely that gonzo thing. So I tried to separate the elements from that into the movie, which was fun. Even the result, I love the results of John Carpenter, so when I was sitting with my composer Dario Marianelli, we talked about it – we want this John Villiams aspect, this aspect of Amblin, but then we want some great electronic stuff by John Carpenter, it's like they change things together, and I think he really got it with the applause.
What's your favorite movie from the 80's, John Carpenter, out of curiosity?
Oh my God! I love Escaping from New York Apparently, I think I did it under the wire – it must be like 1981, it's great early. They live is the one that many people have not seen, but it fights with Rovdi Roddy Piper and Keith David when they are in the alliance and they are only forever fighting – it just goes on and just keeps on going and going![[[[He laughs]I love too Great trouble in China – He's so good. In fact, when we built the city of Brighton Waterfall, you have to see it, but in the background there is Dragon's black pool, we actually reconstructed the facade of the restaurant Vang Chia from Great trouble, there is in the background, so it's a way to address a big man.
One of the things that I think is important for your movies and Bumbari also deals with parental loss and teenage problems, especially relationships with parents, to which many 80 films have been focused. Why is this an important topic for you?
We're all working on our issues, are not we? Sometimes on a big screen, sometimes in therapy! When I did it Kubo, I was thinking a lot about my own experiences that grew up and at some level for me, Kubo imagine … The way I personally think of a movie is that real life is entangled in metaphors; You are exploring these things with this fantasy façade over the top, but for Kubo, it was a fantastic version of my childhood, it was basically about me and my mom and me and my father.
This film is not exactly what elements are in it. I was thinking about my childhood here, and as a father of three I thought about my relationship with my children and how complicated these relationships are. Sometimes this feeling of loss is taken away for various reasons by the parent or unable to be part of the life of their children in the way they want to be, or in the way their children need it. That was one aspect Kubo and it was one of the aspects of this – the basic relationship between Charlie and Bumblebee has nothing to do with it; it's another kind of connection, but there's an element of it because it's such a primary thing and many of us have gone through it and I have it, just thinking about it and trying to give the film additional depth and dimension.
Regarding deleted scenes or additional features, what can you tell us about the issue of home entertainment?
We have a lot of cool things. We have more things than they will ever be able to publish the video edition of the house! We have additional animated scenes that we have never completely finished, we have additional action scenes that are partially finished in animation, we have some live action scenes that are for pacing and clarity of the stories that we had to record, that I'm still in love.
I think the initial cutting really is really, really long, so there are 30 to 40 minutes of scenes that will never make a movie, because in the end I'm trying to say a story-oriented story and find some scenes just enter the way. I really believe that a trimester of the ship, it can carry it more and you really should work on what your story is, and then it's built there. So we have a whole range of scenes, both live and animated, which will finally see the light of the day on the video edition of the house. I am excited to see people see it.
What's next for you? Do you have any plans to do more with this franchise, or do you have something animated set up?
I started my company 15 years ago, Laika, and it's still such a huge part of my life. It's so important to me; it's my baby at some level, so we have more movies coming there. Our next animated film, The missing part, coming out in the spring and I'm really excited about that. Just to give you the feeling of slow animation film processing, we started shooting when I started shooting Kubo [[[[He laughs]and now at the time I've finished Kubo and we let go Kubo and then I started to work Bumbari and now we are announcing this film and The missing part still not done! But we're finishing the film and it will be done next month, so it's gone and I'm really excited about it, it's a ton of fun.
And we have a lot of really great, interesting, unusual content that we create down the road for several different movies. There are several films that we are developing, which really are not in relation to anything I think has ever been done in the media, that I can not wait to share it with the world, but of course, that's the way.
Then, as for me personally, Laika is my priority, but this experience was indeed one of the most important creative experiences in my life. By creating the whole thing and sinking into the depths of this film and looking down the road, it would be something I would be interested in investigating if the true story came, I would like to play the live-action world again if and when it makes sense, but by then I will only keep things in my store.
Bumbari in the British Cinema on December 26th