Travis Knight Interview for Kubo and the Two Strings #KuboMovie
From the first time I saw the trailer for KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS, I knew it would be a different type of movie. In part because of the stop motion animation but also because of the storyline and characters.
Note: I was invited as media to the movie screening and press junket interviews. Any personal views expressed are always 100% my own.
To learn more about the film, I had the chance to interview Travis Knight, Director for KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS.
When talking about characters in "Kubo and the Two Strings", I had to ask Travis, which one was his favorite?
I love them all. Even the baddies. When you’re developing these stories, one thing you learn as an artist and as a director, is that you have to approach these characters without judgment.
Even though some of them make horrible decisions and really, objectively, are horrible creatures, you’re got to try to find out what’s driving them. Usually, the way you figure that out is to say, “OK, where does their pain come from? What is driving them to make these decisions?” So you really start to try to understand them; even our villains.
Every single main character in this movie has suffered some kind of a loss and they respond to it in different ways. I think that is one of the things we explore, what loss and grief can do to us as people, how they can affect and change us, what’s the best way to try to handle these things; what should we aspire to do? Ultimately, that’s the path that Kubo takes. But his grandfather takes a different path, his aunts take a different path.
I really do love every character in this movie for a lot of different reasons. Kubo is kind of a feudal Japanese version of me.
But on another level, one of my favorite characters we’ve ever done at the studio is Monkey. She is fantastic. It’s interesting because in folklore tradition, typically a character’s guide or mentor is a man, and we purposely made Monkey a woman. I love her quality. She’s a maternal figure, there’s a lot of my mom in that character, there’s a lot of my wife in that character, I see a lot of my daughter in that character. I think that she’s just a interesting, layered, rich and powerful creature.
I think she’s animated beautifully. I love the design, and I think she’s brought to life extraordinarily by Charlize Theron, just a beautiful performance. I would have to say she’s my favorite character in the film, and definitely one of my favorite characters of anyone we’ve ever developed because of all those things.
When talking about how "Kubo and the Two Strings" develop, Travis shared
Around 5 years ago, I met with Shannon Tindle, who I had worked with on on Coraline. He mentioned he had a bunch of ideas he wanted to pitch to us. Over dinner he pitched me the bones of some of these ideas. But one idea in particular really got me excited. That idea ultimately became Kubo and the Two Strings.
Even in it's early raw state, there was something exciting about it. This sweeping stop motion Samurai epic. Something that we've never seen before. But as we started developing it, we had to figure out what was the heart of the story.
When I was a kid, I was an enormous, obsessive fan of epic fantasy. I devoured everything from C.S. Lewis, L. Frank Baum, Lewis Carroll, and I read tons of Norse mythology. But above all else, I loved J.R.R. Tolkien.
Then when I was about eight years old, my dad allowed me to tag along on his business trip to Japan. Absolutely everything about it was a revelation and I was completely enthralled by it. I came back home and I was changed by the experience. It was the beginning of a lifelong love affair I’ve had with this great, beautiful culture.
This film is really the convergence of those two things. It’s the love of epic fantasy, that was a gift from my mother, and a love for the transcendent art of Japan, that I got from my father, all bound together with a movie about sustaining love of family, about what family means. So it’s a film about family, inspired by family, and that really resonated with me. That’s why I dove in and decided to make this movie.
When talking about the message he hopes viewers get from "Kubo and the Two Strings", Travis shared
The film is about the time in our lives when we begin that transition, and ultimately cross the road from childhood to adulthood. And the things that we gain and the things that we leave behind along the way.
Kubo is something of a proxy for the director. While developing the story, I started seeing the qualities of how Kubo was evolving as a character. He's an artist, he's a storytller, he's a musician, he's an animator really when you think about how he brings these inert inanimate objects to life through his imagination and skill.
Kubo also has this incredible beautiful relationship with his mother, and she's the center of his world. And it was very much the same thing for me. My mom was my closet friend in the whole world. And this film explores that time in our lives when those things begin to shift for a variety of reasons. And then ultimately change as we move towards adulthood.
Fundamentally, it's a film that explores big ideas. It's a film that explores loss and grief. But it also explores healing, compassion, forgiveness and empathy. And I think above all else it's a joyous celebration of what it means to be human. In all it's beauty and all it's flaws. And I think with that kind prism, it reminds us that we're all connected. That we're all in this together.
I think that emphatic message, that thing that great stories can do, is what we tried to do with this movie.
After screening the film, which I will share more about in another post, I think that Travis and his team made a great story that will be enjoyed by. Make sure to go see KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS!
Kubo and the Two Strings is an epic action-adventure set in a fantastical Japan from acclaimed animation studio LAIKA.
Clever, kindhearted Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson of “Game of Thrones”) ekes out a humble living, telling stories to the people of his seaside town including Hosato (George Takei), Hashi (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), and Kameyo (Academy Award nominee Brenda Vaccaro).
But his relatively quiet existence is shattered when he accidentally summons a spirit from his past which storms down from the heavens to enforce an age-old vendetta.
Now on the run, Kubo joins forces with Monkey (Academy Award winner Charlize Theron) and Beetle (Academy Award winner Matthew McConaughey), and sets out on a thrilling quest to save his family and solve the mystery of his fallen father, the greatest samurai warrior the world has ever known.
With the help of his shamisen – a magical musical instrument – Kubo must battle gods and monsters, including the vengeful Moon King (Academy Award nominee Ralph Fiennes) and the evil twin Sisters (Academy Award nominee Rooney Mara), to unlock the secret of his legacy, reunite his family, and fulfill his heroic destiny.
Director: Travis Knight
Writers: Marc Haimes and Chris Butler (“ParaNorman”)
To learn more about KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS, visit: www.kubothemovie.com
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To celebrate KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS opening in theaters, here's a great giveaway.
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