The Oscar-winning pair of Alison Snowden and David Fine took time to talk to Solzy at the Movies about their newest theatrical short film, Animal Behaviour.
Congrats on Animal Behaviour being selected for TIFF! How much of an honor is it to hold the North American premiere of the short film at the festival?
David Fine: Well, it’s a huge honour. TIFF is one of the most prestigious film festivals and they don’t accept many animated shorts, so it’s really nice. I also grew up in Toronto, so it’s very special to think my home city is showing the film. It means a lot to me.
Alison Snowden: I was so excited to find out that Animal Behaviour was at TIFF. As David said, they don’t accept many animated films and it’s so great to be a part of a “big boy” festival.
This was a very interesting premise in that animals are very similar to humans in having their own problems. How did this idea come together and how did you choose which animals?
Alison Snowden: We wanted to explore the notion of people feeling the need to change in order to fit in, while at the same time asking if it’s more the responsibility of others to accept people the way they are. We thought it would be fun to make them animals with the characteristics that make sense for those animals and that have commonality with human characteristics. We didn’t actually start with this exact group of animals, but we refined it over time.
David Fine: Yes, that was indeed the point, that we felt that so many animal characteristics are analogous to human characteristics. At first we had a poodle in the group but then decided we should have only one dog, and so we put some of the poodle’s issues on Dr. Clement because we thought it would be good to show that the doctor also has his problems.
What has the reception been at prior festivals?
David Fine: Great. It was really amazing to see it screened at Annecy, which is the biggest animation festival in the world. The theatre was full and holds 800 people. I can’t think of another venue where that many people come out to see short cartoons.
Alison Snowden: The nice thing about a comedy is that you can tell right away if the audience is getting it or not, so it’s been great to see the audience reaction.
How long was the animation process for the film?
David Fine: I’m always a little embarrassed by that. Hand-made animation does take a long time when you don’t have a crew of 400 people, like many features have. We spent all day working, and for this 14-minute film, it took about 2.5 years, full-time.
Your last theatrical short came in 1994 with Bob’s Birthday for which the two of you took home an Oscar. Over the years, it seems that more animated films are going away from the hand-drawn animation and adapting to the available technology. What thoughts do you have on the matter?
David Fine: Well, our film was hand-drawn, but using computers to input those drawings rather than paper. Same task, different tool. We don’t miss paper and I adore the undo key.
Alison Snowden: It was very important to us that it looked personal and hand-drawn and not digital, but we’ve never been romantic about using old-school tools to achieve that. And you can’t spill digital paint on your trousers.
Thank you for your time and congrats again on the film.
David Fine: Thank you.
Alison Snowden: Thank you.