Brian Van’t Hul
Besides working with the design and effects work, I also get to look at the show-at-hand as a whole, and look at the timeline and money that we have, and try to fit that into the day-to-day operations.
I’ve always been a fan of stop motion as a kid. But at some point, I was watching these films, and one of the adults mentioned that these things don’t magically appear on TV, and there are people whose job is to do this everyday. I was about 8 years old when this idea clicked to my brain.
It’s about combining engineering, chemistry and artistry. Whatever it is that you’re interested in, if you don’t have a passion to keep you forward. Some people get into this business, there’s a certain element of glamour to it.
What’s really great is to see the result the next morning, pick the good footages and hand them over. A lot of the question that I aksed during the day: there’s this whole thing now where people buy DVD. Today, we’re more educated about how they make these things.
A lot of times when I show up on set, people know what those boxes show up, and people expect me to do certain things with that. So when stuff broke, people just asked me “you can always fix this later, right?”
Except that you don’t have “later.”
So we’re trying to talk them through alternate techniques or ways that they want. Sometimes, people are seduced by creating a shot that’s really flamboyant, and seduced by it—often stopping the movie production before it started back up again. Those are the kinds of dialogues I have with directors.
Then people with the money starts getting “creative” [laughs.]
My creative process is really aboout getting a good brief. Then you can move around inside that brief.
For me, a lot of the reward isn’t actually seeing the final product. A big part of it is actually seeing the day-to-day ethic. Trying to have the energy to problem solve. Trying to find the extra time to not only study what’s happening right now, but also how they do it fifty years ago. If you’re too reliant on technology, you’re probably not doing your best.
Part of my job is to go down and talk with the camera crew and art director to save us money. When you’re working on a big budget film, it’s best to approach it as if “this is my film, this is my money, and I’m composing it in my garage.” You don’t need to always need to use the fanciest technology. If you’re going to notice any of that stuff, why pay for it? It’s a balance between using tradition and incorporating technology.
You know, Mike. All of this wouln’t be possible without the Cocktail Napkin technology.
Then you would also have physical objects in front of the camera. In a miniature set, things do change, expand and contract depending on weather. It’s little things like that. And there are times when it doesn’t fix itself and you have to reconstruct it.
If people ask me what my advice would be: you have to be really reckless. Break whatever rules whenever you can, or you’d disappear into generalities.