Back in July we had the most amazing experience as we headed out on an all expense paid trip to bring you the interviews from the Kubo movie. This movie is truly a work of art and love. So why not sit back and enjoy listening to Travis Knight tell us about what it was like to make the Kubo and the Two Strings movie. Then see the movie info below!
What is your favorite scene in the movie?
Travis: It’s hard to pick one scene as my favorite. We’ve been working on this for 5 years. Kubo is basically a version of me. He’s an artist, a storyteller, an animator if you think about it. He’s a lonely kid. I grew up lonely too. I lived on a side of a mountain 15 miles from the closest town. I played alone a lot running in creeks, climbing trees and exploring woods. I spent a lot of time creating, drawing , music and stories. My whole life revolved around my mom and she’s who I spent the most time with. It was a beautiful relationship. It’s the most meaningful connection in my life. This film explores that moment in our lives when we experience that shift. To love is to hurt. It also makes life worth living. That’s one of the core themes. Every scene has elements of that in play. There are things that were accomplishments. The big skeleton scene was a nod to Indiana Jones. We had no idea how we were going to pull it off. Or the beginning of the movie when Kubo is taking care of his mom. You know what Kubo is thinking and feeling that’s as challenging to do as the big skeletons. It’s a beautiful slice of humanity or a beautiful piece of art.
How do you find balance with loss and fun in a movie?
The things that stuck with me as a kid were the stories that struck a balance between light and dark. We make films for families. We don’t speak down to our audience. We’re grown up kids with kids of their own. I think back to things that I love. Laika only exists because of my kids. When I had kids everything changed. I didn’t want to devote my life to stuff that was damaging to kids. I wanted to make meaningful art. Movies with a hopeful view of the world. This movie explores the relationships between parents and kids. We run things by our kids when we’re making films. We don’t run focus groups. We make films that are pure that we believe in. We show things to our kids and see how they respond. We make films that are meaningful for the whole family.
What has inspired you to dedicate your life to animated film?
I made this my life’s work. I sometimes have to extricate myself and see why I do this. It’s a very strange way to make a living. I have loved animation my entire life. It’s a combo of things I loved as a kid. I love stop motion animation. It’s insteresting beautiful and charming. What appeals to me from this? I was watching my 3 year old son play with his toys and he was using voices and telling stories. No one taught him that. But yet he’s telling a story with imaginative play. In some ways I think stop motion is evocative of that feeling. The best form of art brings us together.
What do you geek out with your kids about?
Once they reach a certain age you can geek out together. I tried to show my son Flash Gordon which I watched 30-40 times as a kid. He was so bored. Dad this is terrible. I had to explain to him how awesome it was. It didn’t work. But when I showed them Star Wars it was a different experience. They loved it. My son started getting into minecraft and I just didn’t get it. What are you doing? Get your legos? I don’t understand there’s a gap there. But they share things with us and we share things with them.
How does stop motion animation enhance the film? What other challenges did you face?
It’s an unusual process. Stop motion as a medium has been around forever. It’s the invention of stage magicians. At one point in the world stop motion was cutting edge. It’s not anymore. We are reinvigorating stop motion animation. Otherwise I think it would have fallen by the wayside. We embraced it and learned to love it. Technology is a tool to tell stories a tool to make art. It’s no different than a paintbrush. By merging all these things we can take this medium we love and bring it into a new era. There are limitations. We make movies in a warehouse. We want a challenge. The opportunity to tell a big epic fantasy was fun. It takes forever to do these things. In a good week we animate 4-5 seconds a week. We get very few frames down. It’s slow going and very mathematical. But it can’t look mathematical. We keep things real. We put in the mistakes we make and yet you still lose yourself in the story. You can’t tell we’re using a puppet. You forget and get wrapped up in a story. It’s magic.
When did the George Harrison song While my guitar gently weeps come into play?
My mom was a huge Beetles fan. They were just a part of our life. One song that we loved was this song. We were thinking what music can accompany this? And this song just kept coming up. It’s a timeless expression of love and empathy. I always heard it as a female voice singing it. It kind of felt like an extension of the movie. It was sung beautifully by Regina Specter. It’s a mother singing to her son. At the very end of the story a choir sings this song. It’s the perfect way to end the movie.
Kubo and the Two Strings is an epic action-adventure set in a fantastical Japan from acclaimed animation studio LAIKA. Clever, kindhearted Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson of “Game of Thrones”) ekes out a humble living, telling stories to the people of his seaside town including Hosato (George Takei), Hashi (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), and Kameyo (Academy Award nominee Brenda Vaccaro). But his relatively quiet existence is shattered when he accidentally summons a spirit from his past which storms down from the heavens to enforce an age-old vendetta. Now on the run, Kubo joins forces with Monkey (Academy Award winner Charlize Theron) and Beetle (Academy Award winner Matthew McConaughey), and sets out on a thrilling quest to save his family and solve the mystery of his fallen father, the greatest samurai warrior the world has ever known. With the help of his shamisen – a magical musical instrument – Kubo must battle gods and monsters, including the vengeful Moon King (Academy Award nominee Ralph Fiennes) and the evil twin Sisters (Academy Award nominee Rooney Mara), to unlock the secret of his legacy, reunite his family, and fulfill his heroic destiny.
Director: Travis Knight
Writers: Marc Haimes, Chris Butler (“ParaNorman”); Story by Shannon Tindle, Marc Haimes
Voice Cast: Charlize Theron, Art Parkinson, Ralph Fiennes, George Takei, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Brenda Vaccaro, Rooney Mara, and Matthew McConaughey
Make sure you check out my other Kubo posts for more info! My interviews with Matthew Mcconaughey, Charlize Theron and Art Parkinson. The trailer posts, interactive map, my Kubo movie review and soon my upcoming interview with Travis Knight.