Paloma Baeza interview: ‘The House’ director
In creating the titular object in “The House,” Paloma Baeza knew it had to be recognizable in each story while also being aesthetically different from the piece in the film’s other two vignettes. The challenge for the production designer was “to come up with some recognizable features that we could bend and stretch depending on what the story needed. Each narrative needed something slightly different,” she tells Gold Derby during our recent webchat (watch the exclusive video interview above). Production designer Alex Walker had meetings with each segment’s director individually and all together to discuss distinctive features that were selected for each segment’s version of the house. “You definitely feel, even though they look very different in terms of the aesthetics… through that entry hallway is absolutely the same house, even though they’re different scales.”
“The House,” which can be streamed on Netflix, is a stop-motion animated film consisting of three vignettes. The first, directed by Emma De Swaef and Marc James Roles, centers on a middle class family that moves into the house and obsessing over material goods; the second, directed by Niki Lindroth von Bahr, is about a mouse that’s buried in debt from trying to fix up the house in order to sell it; and the final one, directed by Baeza, features a cat desperately trying to fix the house up as a flood threatens to consume it. Among the film’s voice talent is Mia Goth, Matthew Goode, Miranda Richardson, Jarvis Cocker and Helena Bonham Carter.
With the puppets being designed by Mackinnon & Saunders, a different designer was used for each segment to bring the characters to life in a slightly different way. “I used a character designer, Félicie Haymoz, who is really terrific. She would draw the cats and we would have a back and forth.” For the puppets in her segment, she wanted a lot of emphasis on the expressions that they were able to make. “I come from a performance background and I always like to get the most you can out of the expressions and I’m very mindful of movement and the acting side of those puppets.”
Baeza initially started in the industry as an actress in the mid-1990s but had always tinkered around in designing characters, making short films and then did the unthinkable. “I went back to film school. By that point I had two kids and it seems I had a career and I sort of sidestepped that to see what would happen.” She views it as very life-affirming to know that she was able to make that kind of pivot in her career. “You don’t have to end up doing what you start doing in life. There’s all these avenues and you evolve and what I found is that all the stuff I did before I came into animation…informs it massively.”