No wonder the effect is so magical. When did the animation of the faces come in?
Again, it is a mixture. All of the body movement and facial expressions like in Marcel’s eye, that’s all done on the animation stages. But then the mouth is comped during that visual effects stage. So, after we locked all the animation, we started working on the mouth.
At what point did Isabella Rossellini come in?
She came in probably halfway through that first phase of writing and recording, and we got in touch with her through a casting director. We got very lucky that her daughter had seen Marcel and was a fan and was like, “Oh, you should do this.” And we got lucky that she is really a true artist that she just wants to work in ways she’s never worked before and get out of her comfort zone and make artwork that fascinates her. I don’t know how many more traditional projects she turned down to work on ours. As an artist, she really sparked to that unique way of working.
I particularly enjoyed her character’s interaction with the insects because of her history with insects, the Green Porno series where she dressed as an insect to explain their reproduction.
People that have seen “Green Porno” ask if that was the inspiration to cast her. I’m sure it was in the back of her head but yes, totally. It was wonderful to get to write the character around Isabella. All the things that I think are really wonderful and surprising and cool about that character are the same things that Nick and I found cool and surprising about Isabella’s character. She lives on a farm. She knows so much about farming and she has a master’s degree in animal behavior. She’s been fascinated with insects for so long. And my favorite thing that made it into that character about her is that she knows nature very intimately and she has a great way of talking about it. She’s reverent towards it but she doesn’t idealize it. She knows that it’s full of brutal, violence, and sex, and all the stuff of the wild world. And that is some of my favorite part about Isabella that show up in Connie.
What was it like to have the “60 Minutes” crew come in? They have a very different kind of energy than what you’ve just described.
I was really committed all the way through trying to make this as much like a real documentary as I possibly could. And so, I was always dedicated to making this section look exactly like a “60 Minutes” piece. And luckily Liz Holm, who produced the film, our awesome producer, happened to have a friend at “60 Minutes,” Sherri Finkelstein, who plays herself in the film and is a real producer for “60 Minutes.” We had a little bit of a back channel where we could consult with them and say, “What kind of cameras do you use and what would this be like, and what’s your process for when you show up to a subject’s house to interview them, what does that all look like?”