Director Dean Fleischer-Camp Made Sure Marcel The Shell With Shoes On Animation Wasn't Too Polished

Sometimes being Very Onlineā„¢ has its benefits, like being able to say that I've been down with the lovable, optimistic, anthropomorphic little Marcel the Shell with Shoes On since day one. When A24 first announced the feature-length adventures of the titular talking shell, the response was split between very excited millennials who used to post Marcel quotes as Facebook statuses, and confused folks worried that the independent film production company had finally jumped the shark. Fortunately, the naysayers were promptly brought into the light after "Marcel the Shell with Shoes On" debuted at SXSW, and audiences were blown away by the heart, humility, and humor of a stop-motion shell voiced by Jenny Slate.

Marcel, Nana Connie, and the other assorted talking trinkets are all animated characters, but "Marcel the Shell with Shoes On" is set in a live-action world. There was initially some concern that the film would be ineligible for Oscar contention in the Best Animated Feature category, but it was confirmed last month that there was sufficient animation included in the film to qualify.

"Marcel the Shell with Shoes On" has humble beginnings on director Dean Fleischer-Camp's YouTube page, having shot the original trilogy of shorts on a shoestring budget and crudely animated the character himself. There's always been something endearing about the visibly low-production value of Marcel's world, which was something Fleischer-Camp was mindful of not to lose by bringing the lil' guy to the big screen.

'There's a danger with increased budget'

During a recent interview with Deadline, Dean Fleischer-Camp discussed the making of "Marcel the Shell with Shoes On," and how the process was fundamentally different between making the micro-shorts that put the character on the map, compared to the feature-length film that literally put Marcel on a physical map (and getting carsick).

"The challenge that was the hardest is that the original short was made for no money in a few days," said Fleisher-Camp. "There's a danger with increased budget and working with a bigger team, that you kind of sand off all the things that made it special to begin with." He noted that there's a natural sort of polish that comes once professional animators and the accessibility of funds enter the mix. "Like, I'm a bad animator, which is why the shorts look the way they do, but that's kinda charming," he correctly stated. "So, how do you ensure that once you hire incredible animators, that it doesn't get too polished and look too smooth and sleek?"

Fleisher-Camp said that he made it his goal to ensure "Marcel the Shell with Shoes On" didn't lose the imperfect perfection of the beloved trilogy of shorts. "I was always trying to find ways to bake in spontaneity, authenticity, and mistakes, for lack of a better word, into the process," he said. Fortunately, the dedication paid off, because "Marcel the Shell with Shoes On" is exactly the feature film our mighty mollusk deserves ... out of focus camera zooms and all.