Mikey Please interview: ‘Robin Robin’ director
“People often attribute stop-motion to patience, but the funny thing is I think we’re actually incredibly impatient. We’re always wanting to kind of push forward to the next step,” says Mikey Please about the process of stop-motion animation. He and Daniel Ojari directed the stop-motion film “Robin Robin,” which is on the Oscars shortlist for Best Animated Short. We talked with Please for our short-film directors panel. Watch our exclusive video interview above.
“Robin Robin” was produced by Aardman, the studio behind celebrated stop-motion projects like “Wallace and Gromit,” “Shaun the Sheep,” and “Chicken Run.” This film tells the story of the title character, a bird who is adopted by a family of mice but struggles to fit in. So to prove she can be a capable mouse, she sets out to steal the star from atop a Christmas tree. Please doesn’t remember exactly how he and Ojari initially thought up that premise, but “it came about relatively quickly one evening … The situation we found so interesting and fun and immediately it led to all these different avenues … So this fairly quick premise that came about in an evening then stuck with us for about five years.”
The whole process can be painstaking, but it’s not necessarily patience you need to get you through. You need to be “quite regimented and organized … You do have to kind of break down what you’re doing into a thousand little steps. But actually once those little steps are broken down, you can be quite impatient about how you get through them.”
The visual aesthetic of the film “evolved over a long period,” but “one of the sort of distinctive things about our particular kind of stop motion is that it’s always got this very illustrative foundation” with “very bold graphic compositions.” They worked with illustrator Matthew Forsythe, who brought a “deep approach to color … that felt very thematically resonant with what we wanted to say with the film as well, which is about how different things, when they come together, can form something richer.” Which could just as easily describe the process of making a stop-motion film.