I recently had the great pleasure of interviewing animation maestro Phil Tippett for the Cinefex blog. During a Hollywood career spanning nearly forty years, Phil has created extraordinary visual effects for films including Star Wars, RoboCop, Jurassic Park and the Twilight saga, to name but a few. Phil has recently completed his own independent animated film called Mad God.
The first chapter in a planned series of macabre shorts, Mad God takes its audience on a dreamlike descent through a Miltonian underworld filled with bizarre and horrifying creatures. In Phil’s own words, “It’s bringing you to that moment just after waking up from a dream, frozen, exploring fragments of your feral mind before they fade back into the shadows.”
Here’s a brief extract from the interview:
Around the time I was doing the Robocop movies, Jurassic Park and Starship Troopers, I spent the better part of ten years going around pitching projects. I developed maybe ten different things: lots of key art and scripts. After a period of rejection, Ed Neumeier – who wrote Starship Troopers and Robocop – told me all my ideas were “art-damaged” … meaning, I guess, they were just too weird. I took that to heart and just stopped. One of the projects was Mad God. I’d shot about six minutes worth of film on 35mm, but the project had got too big, and around that time the digital revolution hit, so I had to completely re-gear how I thought about things. Then, about three or four years ago, some of the guys at my studio saw me archiving all this ancient Mad God material. They were really excited and relaunched the project.
Mad God is the antithesis of my day job, where there’s a lot of filmmaking rules. I thought of it like a painting that I would work on a for a long period of time, maybe shoot something over here, and something over there, and not really know exactly how they were going to link. I studied my dreams. I read a lot of Jung. I wanted to use the unconscious to drive the thing. And that takes more time. You have to let things cook for a while. I wanted to do something without the trappings of story and plot. There’s a narrative, but it’s not a story per se.