A t2 chat with hotel Transylvania maker Genndy Tartakovsky
Why a funny film on Dracula?
We wanted to make a film that wasn’t scary for children... a funny film filled with monsters. The story is about Dracula and he has a daughter who is turning 118 and he’s afraid of letting her go out into the world because humans are waiting! In this film monsters are persecuted by humans. So, he builds this huge castle for her, hoping she wouldn’t want to leave him... ever. For me, it was a natural thing to do because as a kid I was very scared of Dracula stories. It was a memory that I didn’t want to replicate for today’s kids and so I decided to take the funnier route.
The biggest challenge?
The challenge wasn’t so much technical because we worked with Sony Pictures Image Works, the company that executes the technical side of any film produced by Sony Pictures. It was more challenging creatively to do something that is a little fresher than anything that has been done recently. We had images that were extremely exaggerated and that became a difficulty because it’s not the language animation people speak. It was really challenging to get this comic and exaggerated performance out of these animators.
How did you zero in on the star voices?
When I started, Adam Sandler was somehow signed on! And when Adam signed on, we started thinking about how to get voices that would suit the personalities of the characters. And Adam was able to hop out and speak to some of his colleagues and friends.... That’s how people like Selena Gomez, Kevin James and Steve Buscemi came on board.
You have done a lot of work on TV. How would you compare the two mediums?
The difference is that on TV you have multiple avenues to get to the audience. If your first episode doesn’t click, you can hope that the audience catches on in the next episode. In films you have just one shot… you have that one weekend and if audiences don’t like it, you are kind of dead in the water. One of the reasons I wanted to get into features is that I wanted to sit there and watch my movie with an audience. When they laugh and appreciate your film, it kind of gives you the feeling that you are performing on stage, even if you are not!
Looking back, is there anything you would have liked to change in the film?
As far as storytelling goes, one can never be satisfied. There are so many different ways you can interpret a single story… the possibilities are boundless. But having said that, I am happy the way the film turned out.
What’s the audience feedback?
It’s been great. We got a little drumming from critics but as far as viewers go, a lot of people laughed throughout the film. It was good to see kids and adults laughing at the same jokes.
People found it really funny and what’s good is that there is a very strong emotional core in the film.
Do we see you making a transition from animation to live action, like Incredibles maker Brad Bird did with Mission Impossible:4 last year?
I love animation. Even though I have been working for over 20 years, I feel like I have just started because I have so many stories to tell. If the right story for a live-action film comes along, then maybe…. But otherwise, I am quite happy doing my bit in animation.
Which are your favourite animation films in the last 10 years?
I think the Toy Story would be right up there. Incredibles was also very good. I also like (Hayao) Miyazaki and his Howl’s Moving Castle (a Japanese anime) is quite a favourite.
Hotel Transylvania is playing at the plexes this week.