Aardman Animations co-founder Peter Lord has been making movies using stop-motion animation for essentially his entire adult life.
“It is what I have done for a very long time,” Lord said during a recent Q-and-A about his latest directorial effort “The Pirates! Band of Misfits.” “We are very good at it at my studio. There are about 350 people who really specialize in this at Aardman Animations. They do it really well and they love doing it.”
In “The Pirates! Band of Misfits,” which opens Friday, April 27 at movie theaters throughout the Valley, Hugh Grant voices a pirate captain who sets out on a mission to defeat his rivals for the Pirate of the Year Award. The quest takes the captain and his crew from the shores of Blood Island to the foggy streets of Victorian London.
“This is going to sound ridiculous, but my studio is so much more fun than anyone else’s studio,” Lord said. “I am a huge fan of Pixar. It is an amazing culture down there. They have such a beautiful campus with crazy guys on scooters zooming around. It is fun. But it has to be fun because otherwise all they are doing is sitting at the keyboard all day – which is really boring.”
Lord explained that stop-motion animation requires his studio’s staff to work with their hands, building things with clay, wood, latex, silicone and other properties. He added that it is not uncommon to see one of his animators covered in paint, climbing up some structure. In other words, Aardman Animations operates in a physical environment as opposed to a virtual one.
“It is handmade with love,” Lord said. “I like that. It is not perfect but I do not think that perfect is necessarily a good thing. I think that lively is always better than perfect. And I believe that some of that handmade-ness comes out of the screen and the audience feels it, too. At least I hope they do. Otherwise, we are wasting our time.”
For example, there is a scene in “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” where an entire tavern full of people erupts with laughter. Therefore, 25 puppets are all rolling around – each one doing something different. Some are clutching their sides, some are slapping the table and some are leaning against the wall. And it was all handled by one guy.
“That shot that lasted 3 seconds took more than 3 weeks to shoot,” Lord explained. “It is tough but you can do it if you have got the mental stamina.”
“The Pirates! Band of Misfits” (PG – 88 minutes) opens Friday, April 27 at movie theaters throughout the Valley. Visit FirstLook.com for specific showtimes and locations.