Magazine article Screen International

Gore Verbinski

Magazine article Screen International

Gore Verbinski

Article excerpt

The American director reflects on the making of Rango, which recently won top honours at the Annie Awards and is up for an Academy Award.

Corralling awards from the likes of the Critics' Choice and the Annies with Academy Award, Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations to boot, Rango has been one of the animation hits of the year with critics and audiences - to the tune of over $240m worldwide - alike.

Yet this couldn't have been further from director Gore Verbinski's mind when it came to making the tale of a wannabe actor chameleon who winds up in the Wild West town of Dirt. "[I was] shocked to see people still remembered us because we came out in March," says Verbinski. "We were just trying to do something a little different. It's nice to get a vote from people saying 'yeah, do something different'. It's a kick in your step as you go off to do other things."

Despite its differences, Rango does have some parallels with other awards-baiters, namely The Artist and Hugo, with a celebration of cinema in its nod to traditional Westerns, even though Verbinski originally started off trying to avoid the "language of the Western".

"There's so much of that cinematic language that's very shop-worn, so first it was sort of how you run away from it. As we were developing the story reel, we moved to this idea that this outsider, this chameleon, was going to be an actor in search of an audience and an identity.

"It started to become self-reflective - the mariachi singing of his demise and commenting on the hero's journey - then we could run towards all of these references and really celebrate the genre because I think our protagonist is aware of the fact that he's stumbled into a genre and he's adapting."

Adapting is something Verbinski had to do when making Rango as it was his first experience with animation and the director admits that he - along with John Logan and Jim Byrkit who worked on the story for 18 months with Verbinski, before a further 18 months at ILM - didn't know what he was doing. However, he didn't believe that he had to abandon techniques he'd developed in live action, just because people were telling him how animation was done.

One such unorthodox method came with the voice acting where Verbinski spent 20 days with actors on a set, interacting with each other instead of recording their voices in an isolation booth. "When I heard we'd need to record the actors one at a time on a microphone, that scared me," the director admits.

"I need them reacting. Everybody comes to set with a plan or an intention and it's nice when that slips away because you're colliding all these intentions together and then they all have to change. …

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