Wes Anderson Speaks About 'Directing Via Email' Controversy On Fantastic Mr Fox

It is unfortunate that the impending release of Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox has been overshadowed to some extent by the controversy over his directing technique for the film. A few weeks ago, word came out that Tristan Oliver, the film's director of photography, was less than impressed with Anderson's choice to remain away from set much of the time. The initial storm was minor, but blew up more in the last few days after the LA Times ran an article featuring some incendiary quotes from both the DP and director of animation Mark Gustafson. Anderson responded tersely at first, and now Jeff Wells has got him on video talking about the kerfuffle.

Here's the background: the film was shot in London, but Anderson evidently spent much of his time in Paris. He would issue direction via phone, email and other communiques. ("The animators would send short digital film files of what they were working on and in return receive detailed e-mail instructions about what to change," explained the LAT.) And to Oliver, that wasn't usual.

I think he's a little sociopathic," the LAT quotes Oliver saying. "I think he's a little O.C.D. Contact with people disturbs him. This way, he can spend an entire day locked inside an empty room with a computer. He's a bit like the Wizard of Oz. Behind the curtain."

But Anderson now downplays the schism. He says the interview with Oliver is from April, and that when he talked to the paper in June and then checked in with Oliver, the DP said he'd been misquoted. According to Anderson they've smoothed things out and it all worked quite well afterward. (Though one would assume the movie was largely done by the time these interviews were taking place and that these arguments would havebeen hashed out months earlier.)

In some ways, Anderson calls the conflict business as usual.

The word that I think gives one pause is 'sociopath'. That is the unexpected one. That's Tristan, our director of photography. Well, I have another DP I've worked with for many years. There are moments in production...where I think he would have unkind words to say about me. Because movies are hard to make, and sometimes you're making people do things that are the last thing they want to do, and the last way they want to do it.

Here's the full interview: