Max Porter and Ru Kuwahata Interview: ‘Negative Space’
During our recent webcam chat (watch the exclusive video above), Max Porter reveals he wanted to adapt the Ron Koertge poem “Negative Space” into an animated short because “it said something very true and honest about parent and child relationships,” and “the way relationships are often ritualized.” The stop motion film centers on a boy who connects with his father by learning how to pack a suitcase. “We thought that because it was about a parent and child relationship, it was something that was universal, that people could inject their own experiences into.”
For co-director Ru Kuwahata, the story had a personal resonance. “It just reminded me a lot about my father, who was a pilot,” Kuwahata divulges. “He had this list of what to pack, and he ritually, rigidly packed everything according to” that list. Upon reading the poem, “I was like OK, that’s really my dad and the relationship I had with my dad. I do the same thing: I have this packing list and I go pretty intense.”
“Negative Space” was recently nominated for an Annie Award as Best Animated Short and was shortlisted for the 2018 Academy Awards. The film competes at the Oscars against “Cradle,” “Dear Basketball,” “Fox and Whale,” “Garden Party,” “In a Heartbeat,” “Life Smartphone,” “Lost Property Office,” “Lou,” and “Revolting Rhymes.”
Kuwahata and Porter won the Audience Award at the Austin Film Festival for Best Animated Short earlier this year for the film, a prize they previously received for “Between Times” (2014).