Guillermo Del Toro Talks Life Obsession With Animation; Love Of Stop-Motion & Advises Aspiring Animators To Channel Inner Monster – Annecy

Guillermo del Toro was given a rock star welcome at the Annecy International Animation Festival on Tuesday as he took to the stage to discuss his life long obsession with animation.

The Oscar-winning The Shape Of Water filmmaker and producer is at the French lakeside festival this year as one of the figureheads of special a focus on Mexican animation, alongside The Book Of Life director Jorge R. Gutierrez, producer Sofia Alexander (Onyx Equinox) and Guadalajara Festival head Estrella Araiza

Having recounted his early beginnings in the genre using his father’s Super 8, del Toro said he always thought he would work mainly in animation but instead got caught in live action for close to a decade, on TV show Hora Marcada and the film Cronos and breakthrough classics such as The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth.

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“Life had other plans and I didn’t come back to animation formerly until I started working with Dreamworks, supervising on films like Puss In Boots and Rise Of The Guardians,” he recalled.

Fresh from his experiences on 2023 Oscar and Bafta-winning hit Pinocchio, del Toro professed his love of stop-motion animation.

“Stop-motion in my opinion is the most beautiful form of animation because it’s the most intimate. There is always a strong connection between the animator and the physical model,” he said.

“This is as close as you get to playing with your toys. I grew up reading the Famous Monsters comics. I wanted all those models and I still want those models… I keep the puppets after the movies. I keep all the toys.

He added that he also magical and yet imperfect nature of worlds created from stop-motion.

“I f**king hate perfection. I love things that look hand-made. That’s why I put physical sets in my movies. I try to avoid digital sets and digital effects as much as we can. I love the physicality of it. Stop-motion is handmade, handcarved cinema. If you need a chair in a stop-motion movie. you have to make it. If you need a flower, you have to make it.”

Del Toro was talking to a predominantly youthful crowd of aspiring animation creatives.

He raised his concern that the mainstream animation world often crushed the originality and enthusiasm of young talents.

“I have a scholarship for Mexican animators that go to study at Gobelins [the Paris-based animation school]. Every year I go to Gobelins and I say why is animation not as good as f**king shorts that any animation school has? Why? Why can’t we see a whole movie like that?,” he said.

“The answer is because it’s geared towards grinding that sh*t and destroying it.”

He advised the aspiring animators in the auditorium to channel their inner monster if they wanted to make their mark.

“Animation is for the undomesticated spirits. Animation is saying f**k you to the world as it was presented to you as a kid. Don’t stop saying fuck you to the world. Keep saying it until you crash. That’s the important thing about monsters. I love them because they represent a corporal f**k you to the world,” he said.

“Monsters are things that shouldn’t be but have their own beauty and imperfection and to nurture that is really important.”

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