Image of the FastForward group with David Tanaka “The thing about [animation] is that you start out with nothing,” Stacchi says. “In live action, you can go outside and shoot your film, and you get the entire outside world for free. In animation, you don’t get anything for free...You build from nothing up into it.” This building process, in the case of The Boxtrolls, was monumental. With over 20,000 props and 79 different sets, The Boxtrolls is the biggest stop-motion film ever to be made, which makes the fact that production took over two years unsurprising. Annabelle comments specifically on the prop making process, stating that “To capture the feel of the movie, there has to be a shape language that is applied to everything, which means that all the props have to be made specifically for the movie and OK’d by us. “we even had to ok the individual spoons,” adds Stacchi laughingly. It was soon after this that I was asked, in my opinion, which scene would have been the hardest to film. I, in my naivety, said, “The final battle scene,” which, for those who haven’t seen the film, is a scene that involves a giant robot rig, a lot of hectic character motion, and fire. “That’s exactly what we thought too,” admits Annabelle. It is then revealed to me that the most difficult scene, by far, was the dance sequence within the manse of Lord Portly Rind. “People’s heads almost exploded when we pitched the scene,” says Stacchi. “They said ‘Are you serious? You’re going to have FORTY characters dancing in a room, interacting with each other while the camera is swirling around...that’s crazy.” The directors then began to explain how they pulled such a scene off. “We actually brought in professional dancers, filmed them doing our choreography, and had our animators study them. Every department was maxed out trying to figure that thing out,” says Annabelle. The ambition of such a scene, and in fact the entire movie, embodies LAIKA studio’s philosophy of pushing boundaries with every new film. “I feel really lucky to be at LAIKA at this time. Travis, the president of the company, likes to describe what we do as a real “gumbo” of animation. We use 2D, we use stop motion, we use CG, and it all gets mixed together to try and stylistically get the result that we want,” says Annabelle. “The Boxtrolls looks like no animated movie I’ve ever seen before. I’m really excited to see where we can take it next.”

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