Last month while I was in LA I have the privilege to interview James Bobin. He is an English film director, writer, and producer. He directed the films The Muppets and Muppets Most Wanted, and most recently Alice Through the Looking Glass. Alice Through The Looking hit theaters last weekend after a long 3 years of making.
Alice Through The Looking Glass was filmed at Shepperton Studios in London in 2014. However, the final 3-D images were finished just a month ago. It takes a really long time to make a movie. I am always amazed everytime I go to LA and learn about the movie making process.
James Bobin had already worked with Disney and that is how he introduced to working on Alice Through The Looking Glass. Since he grew up in England and his parents would read him Alice in Wonderland as a child.
She’s like Christopher Robin. Or, you know, she’s just like part of your makeup. I read it as a kid. My grandparents read it to me. Everyone has it. And so for me, I did the same with my children. I have in my kid’s playroom, we have a poster from the British library
What was the most challenging aspect for you?
The story is challenging because it’s not the story in the book, which I knew it would never be because I loved the book very dearly. But even as a kid I realized that it’s quite unusual because Lewis Carroll wasn’t that concerned with narrative. He liked imagery, ideas and the book kind of falls in on itself deliberately. Things happen. And then other things happen. And they seem very consequential. It’s only cause and effect, so I knew that for a film would make an interesting avante guarde movie. I’m not sure I could do that in this situation so I knew the story would be a new story.
I knew Linda had an idea about the time travel movie based on the characters from before but at the same time I wanted to pay tribute to the book. The book’s incredibly important and Lewis Carroll is very important to me. I wanted to take elements of the book like the backwards room and obviously the looking glass and the characters and the spirit of Lewis Carroll, the idea of something which is fairly complex but not so complex that my eight year old daughter wouldn’t understand it. It’s important you understand the story.
What was the transition like going from directing live action and Muppets to a lot of CGI characters?
It’s kind of why I did this film because it’s so different. You know the Muppets I dearly loved and was really fun. The Muppets you kind of shoot where you shoot. With this what I found was you had much more flexibility because you can basically keep pursuing ideas way longer than you would be able to in live action because it’s animated. You could have an idea almost like a year later and put that into the animated creature’s mouth, which is fun.
What were you able to do as far as technology from the first movie to this movie?
Raw computer power is a lot of the answer to this question, ’cause they drive the models and the various ways we build animation and graphics. The end result is that you can see these people and in the animated characters particularly in a very clear way. If you look at Cheshire the cat you can now see his individual hair on his fur, which is beautiful, and see it moving. The thing I’m particularly impressed with these days is eyes because eyes are the windows to the soul. So it’s very important how light plays with the eyes. Over the past six months or so I’ve first started to see eyes that feel real and lifelike ’cause they refract the light in a really beautiful way and they have depth.
Have you seen Alice Through The Looking Glass yet? It’s a great movie for all ages.
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Disney’s Alice Through the Looking Glass is playing in a theater near you!
Top Photo Credit: Jana Seitzer – www.MerlotMommy.com