Chris McKay Interview: ‘The Lego Batman Movie’ director
Chris McKay, the director of “The LEGO Batman Movie,” has been a fan of the Caped Crusader his whole life and was eager to explore a different type of story for the iconic superhero. In our recent webchat (watch the exclusive video above), he says, “The opportunity to do a different kind of Batman movie was really appealing to me.” He adds that he knew it would be a big swing to make a movie “that took the point of view about what happens when Batman is on a mission to solve his real problems.”
McKay is looking to contend for his first Oscar as Best Animated Feature for “The LEGO Batman Movie,” starring the voice of Will Arnett. He worked on 2014’s hit film “The LEGO Movie” as its animation co-director and supervisor. Before that he worked as a director and editor for several Adult Swim programs including “Robot Chicken,” “Morel Oral” and “Titan Maximum.” He even picked up an Emmy for his work on “Robot Chicken” in 2010 (Best Short-Format Animated Program).
He reveals that the biggest advantage to working in computer animation (like “LEGO Batman”) as opposed to stop-motion (like “Robot Chicken”) is how CGI allows multiple opportunities to get things right: “It’s an iterative process whereas stop-motion is something where you only get one take, which is both great and difficult. With CGI you get more of a chance to tweak things, you can fine tune things on a granular level and get really nerdy about the performances.”
He adds that he believes stop-motion is more collaborative since the job is more reliant on the vision of the animator but he’s also been inspired with the CGI team that he’s worked with on both “The LEGO Movie” and “LEGO Batman Movie.” He says, “I love working with Animal Logics specifically on these movies because they have such a diverse and robust team of animators that have such different influences and points of view.”
When asked if getting nominated at this year’s Oscars would feel like retribution after the criminal snub of “The LEGO Movie” in Animated Feature three years ago, McKay is very diplomatic about what the recognition could mean. He understands that with animated films, there are only five slots to give recognition for them and that there are many films that are deserving of recognition that don’t get in. He does hope that this film will succeed in getting in so it could be viewed as a reward for everyone that has worked on it: “We got what we wanted out of that process. People saw it and were moved by it. But these people work very hard and long hours to make these films and for them, I would love for their efforts and work to be recognized.”