Emru Townsend: So you were director of photography [on Rock & Rule].
Yeah, which is a little unusual for an animated film, I don't think traditionally there has been a director of photography. But because of the complexity of the photography and the visual effects in the film, it was decided it was an appropriate credit for the film.
So what did this entail? I know that work in camera can on one level just mean taking what's on the exposure sheet and going
click click click click, but on the other level can mean a lot of creative control.
The camera department on Rock & Rule
... we designed and built a computerized multiplane camera for the film…
Which at the time was a bit of a novelty, I assume.
Yeah, it was. We were doing a lot of--at that time--state-of-the-art visual effects with streak and slit scan, combining it with classical animation, which I think was also a new twist to an animated picture. All animated pictures have special effects, but I think Rock & Rule
took it to another dimension, incorporating very interesting and state-of-the-art visual effects with the traditional animation.
Some of the things we were using were materials other than traditional drawings. A lot of the clouds were actually done using the multiplane camera and spun glass from a fish filter. The sequence at the end with the beast was actually Chuck Gammage who was doing quite a bit of the animation of the beast itself, and he was working with charcoal rather than pencil. We turned it into a Kodalith element and then combined layers and layers and layers of visual effects, including a trip to the St. Lawrence market to purchase some cow brains, and we photographed that.
It was a very challenging project, and a lot of fun to work on.
That's what people tell me. Generally speaking, it was an enjoyable project, it seems.
It was great.
So how did it feel when it just didn't do all that well?
Well, it's really difficult for anyone to say what happened to it. I think it certainly took Nelvana
a lot longer to produce it than expected, for several reasons. One was that we had never done an animated feature before that time, and it was a new experience for everyone. The story evolved continually throughout the production process, so there was a lot of work that was done that never made it into the film as well.
Do you see that as a pro or con? Clive described it as an organic process, but from the standpoint of putting together an animated film now, and the way that I was taught, is that generally speaking, you try to lock down as much as you can beforehand, so that a lot of effort--and of course in a commercial setting, money--doesn't go to waste. So was that necessarily a good thing, that it kept changing like that?
Not necessarily, no. It was an attempt to make a better film. I imagine it probably went into production earlier than it should have, but when you are an independent film producer and you're trying to raise money to produce a film, you have people to report to, and there are production targets to be met. With regards to the release of it, it's very difficult to say. In Hollywood, there are constantly creative executives who are either changing from one company to another, or moving on in their careers, and because of the duration of Rock & Rule
--it went and spanned over a three-year period--creative executives that were involved with the project at the beginning were not necessarily at the end. That weighs into it somewhat, in that new individuals within an organization are not necessarily willing to inherit their predecessors' baggage. And I think that's partially what happened to Rock & Rule
. The people that we had originally worked with were no longer with the distributor.