(Originally Published on Moviefone and The Huffington Post on 11/19/2012)
With Laika Studios releasing ParaNorman on 3D Blu-ray combo pack, Blu-ray combo pack, DVD, On Demand and digital download on Nov. 27, I decided to catch up with my old friend (and ParaNorman creator/director) Chris Butler. We chatted about his dream project coming to life, how this movie of his is changing the world, and why everyone needs to watch it at least twice.
Logan: Hey, Chris. Thanks so much for chatting with me today. For you, what is ParaNorman about?
Chris: I think mainly it’s about tolerance. It’s about how judging people is often misjudging people. The original seed of the idea was something as simple as “how cool would it be to make a stop-mo-animated zombie movie for kids?” and I think that had more to do with growing up on a gleeful diet of Ray Harryhausen creature features and cheesy horror movies. But then beyond that I started thinking that all the best zombie movies are really social commentary — zombies as metaphors. I had the lofty ambition of trying to do that on my movie, only making it a social commentary for kids. I think by far the hardest issue I faced as a child was “fitting in.” I was different, and when you’re a kid, “different” is considered “bad.” The world isn’t a tolerant place for people who don’t conform to the accepted norm. When I embraced that as the heart of the movie, the story really clicked. I wanted to juxtapose the fictional horror of the walking dead with the very real horror of what it is to be 11 years old and different.
Logan: Oh, God. Seriously. How long had this project been in the works?
Chris: I started writing it about 15 or 16 years ago. I kept returning to it over the years. There was something about it that just wouldn’t die, which I guess for a zombie movie is pretty appropriate.
Logan: Aww, it’s your baby!
Chris: This truly is my baby, from initial idea through first draft of the script to the finished movie. It’s a very personal project to me.
Logan: Clearly. I was also struck by the craft of it all. In a world of mass production and CGI, to see something so labor-intensive come to life is a real treat. Was it hard to convince people to come on board with your way of doing things instead of taking an easier animation route?
Chris: We’re an odd bunch in the stop-motion world. We live, breathe and fight for our medium. We love what we do, and for that reason this type of animation will always be around and will always attract amazingly talented people. I think there was a degree of passion among the crew for this project in particular that I don’t think I’ve seen before. Obviously, I’m biased, but I genuinely think people wanted to give this their all.
It was always conceived as stop-motion, right from day one. As soon as I saw the skeleton fight in Jason and the Argonauts as a kid, I knew that stop-motion was the best way to bring the dead back to life!
Logan: It’s really special, Chris. And clearly, Casey Affleck’s ginger character is based on me. If one of the characters in the film were based on you and your experience in the world, who would it be? Read the rest of this entry »