Tough to tell! When we first saw the trailer for the quirk-laden stop-motion animated film in late July, we were caught a little off guard by the woodenness of some of the line readings from the likes of George Clooney and Bill Murray, and subsequent viewings at the Cineplex have done little to change our initial opinions. However, a recent Empire interview with the crew of The Fantastic Mr. Fox suggests that Anderson may have actually been more engaged with his actors than he was with the animators in charge of bringing his vision to life.
As the legend goes, Anderson had originally planned to work with renowned animator Henry Selick on this project (the two had previously worked together on The Life Aquatic). However, Selick left the project to focus on Coraline and was ultimately replaced by Mark Gustafson. In the Empire interview (which was originally unearthed by Spectacular Attractions), Gustafson suggests that Anderson was "keeping his distance from the set and directing via e-mail, sending in his favorite DVDs to give an impression of what he'd like to see." The film's cinematographer, Tristan Oliver, seemed to reiterate this notion:
I think Wes doesn't understand what you can do, and he often wants us to do what you can't do, and the length of time the process takes I don't think he quite comprehends that, and how difficult it is to change something once you've started. It takes a big amount of someone's time to change a very small thing. I think he also doesn't understand that an animator is a performer. An animator is an actor. And this is the secret to animation: You direct your animator, you do not direct the puppet, because the puppet is an inanimate object. You direct an animator as if you're directing an actor, and they will give you a performance. So we'll get a note back from Wes saying, "that arm movement is wrong." But that arm movement is part of a fluid performance. And that has been really quite difficult for the animators.
Yikes! We can only assume that Anderson was spending all that time away from the set by meticulously giving direction to composer Alexander Desplat to make his score sound more twee. But look on the bright side, people: At least he didn't use Twitter!
Wes Anderson Directed Fantastic Mr. Fox By E-Mail? [Cinemablend]