I recently had the fortune to attend a talk by Michaël Dudok de Wit at LCC, the now legendary director of Academy Award winning feature and short films ‘The Red Turtle (2016)’ and ‘Father And Daughter (2000)’. He showed his work and discussed his process of developing a story.
He began by showing his advertising work and ‘Father and Daughter’, the beautifully crafted short. Then he talked about being approached by Studio Ghibli to make a collaborative feature. He discussed the early development of the pitch he showed in Japan. His early experimentation with mediums and techniques. He spoke about his inspirations in old French book covers, and the decision to make it semi realistic.
Michaël Dudok spoke about the trip he took to an island in the Caribbean to do field research. And stressed how important research is to make a successful film and one that has a sense of authenticity. He showed footage from his trip and how that translated into ideas for the film. This included wading birds, the crab, the scenery and an encounter with a turtle that led to the main idea for the film.
He discussed his return to France and creating a studio from scratch for the film. He stressed how important it was to have the right team to work with as this could make or break a film. He also spoke candidly about the long time they had to find the perfect team and to fulfil needed roles.
Then he spoke about developing the final assets for the film, the different variations on the characters, the colour palette including that of the turtle and even a map and structure of the island. The island structure allowed him to create logical lighting for the island depending on the time of day. He also spoke about creating the many beautiful environmental effects for the film.
All in all it was an incredible experience to get insight into the inner workings of a well crafted animation film.