In directing “The Summit of the Gods,” Patrick Imbert knew that the scenes taking place on Mount Everest would be challenging to animate but there were other scenes that he paid special attention to. “There are some dialogue scenes and I pay a lot of attention to those scenes because the animation is very sober. You cannot hide behind swagger and you have to be really precise,” he says during our recent webchat (watch the video above). He further explains how getting these scenes right could be even more difficult than animating the scenes on Everest. “It is not necessary to animate too much, but you have to catch the right movement depending on what you want to say.”
Currently streaming on Netflix, the film examines the drive behind the people that seek to conquer the world’s tallest mountain. A young Japanese reporter Makoto encounters Habu, who is in possession of a camera that belonged to George Mallory, a climber who disappeared in trying to summit Everest. As Makoto begins trying to seek out Habu, he learns about Habu’s tragic past as a climber and eventually ends up accompanying and documenting Habu’s journey to reach the top of Everest.
In animating the climbing scenes, Imbert consulted with several climbers including one that had successfully summited Everest. “He was a French guy and he told us about his experiences and he told us how it was a lot of effort to work when you are very high.” But even with hearing about the conditions, Imbert emphasizes that those aspects don’t capture the power of the story being told. “That doesn’t make the intensity of the scene. That is just a base for how it works but then you have to do the cinema work for making it intense as well.”
The score of the film is another aspect that Imbert had grand ideas about before a composer even came on board. “My idea was that the music had to be on both sides. There’s the Hollywood kind of music that goes with the mission and on the other side it had to give some personal look to the mountain.” When Amine Bouhafa actually came on board to do the film’s score, he didn’t even compose any melodies for Imbert. “He started by using tools and sounds and would ask am I okay with this one. Then he created the melody and it took a long time and I think it’s the longest period on a movie for me.”
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