Will Becher interview: ‘A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon’ director
With the first “Shaun the Sheep” movie being a gamble that paid off in a huge way, Will Becher, the co-director of the sequel, “A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon,” felt like they needed to take Shaun further in the franchise’s next installment. “There was an idea from the studio do go a bit more high concept and science fiction is something that we had never really done before and something everyone in the studio just loved the idea of because ultimately Shaun is like a kid and the thing he loves the most is adventure,” he reveals to Gold Derby in our Meet the Experts: Film Animation panel (watch above). From there, many aspects of the film just ended up fitting into place. “Visually, certain things seemed to click like the isolated farm being a common starting point in that lonely quiet environment. Ultimately, Nick Park came up with the title ‘Farmageddon,’ and it was sealed.”
“A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon” brings back all the fun characters from 2015’s “Shaun the Sheep Movie” including Shaun, Bitzer, The Farmer, the rest of the sheep gang and even the three pigs. This installment finds Shaun encountering an young alien who’s stranded on Earth after taking their parent’s spaceship on a joy ride. While Shaun tries to help the alien return to their home planet, The Farmer tries to cash in on everyone’s sudden obsession with U.F.O.s and Bitzer gets mistaken as a part of an alien race. Shaun is no stranger to the Oscars either. His first appearance was in “A Close Shave” which won Best Animated Short Film in 1995 and the first feature film was nominated for Best Animated Feature.
As with any stop-motion project, there were several scenes that were incredibly difficult to film. “Anything that involves a camera move or lots of characters is multiplying the amount of work that goes on,” Becher says. But rather than single out some of the chase scenes as being difficult, Becher points to the scene that takes place with Shaun and the alien in a supermarket that as one that required the most effort to complete as shooting it took up the entire production. “It took a whole year of filming with two animators working solidly and that doesn’t even cover building hundreds of miniature products for the shop which had references to sci-fi films and comic touches.”
According to Becher, everyone who worked on the film has their own favorite character that they enjoy watching and Becher is no stranger to having that personal sentiment either. “Mine is Bitzer, the sheepdog and this film really is about Shaun’s relationship with Bitzer. Bitzer is stuck in the middle since he’s the working sheepdog.” Becher elaborates that while Shaun is reckless in trying to have fun, Bitzer wants to have fun as well but is also having to keep in mind the rules and making sure he keeps Shaun in check which also makes him a great fall guy. “We put him in some really embarrassing situations in this film and he gives us so much pleasure in that slightly British way of never being able to say exactly how he’s feeling but you know how he’s feeling because he’s the butt of all the jokes.”