Alison Snowden & David Fine
Toronto International Film Festival 2018
While the anthropomorphized characters in the therapy session portrayed here may have more fur or more legs than we do, their many foibles and hang-ups will be uncomfortably familiar to the human viewers of this hilarious new comedy by the Oscar-winning animation team of Alison Snowden and David Fine.
Hey Allison & David, thanks for talking to TNC, how is everything going?
Very well, thanks. Our film is at TIFF, which is a lot of fun, and then VIFF and other festivals, so it’s great.
This is going to be your North American Premiere, are there any nerves ahead of the screening?
Not really nerves as it has been screened a few times now, so although it’s the North American public premiere, we have seen the audience reaction. It certainly was nerve-racking the first time. I think we are just more excited that it will be seen here at such a prestigious festival as TIFF.
What does it mean to be screening Animal Behaviour at TIFF?
David: I grew up in Toronto, so this is very special to have our film shown in my hometown. My family are able to come to the screening too, which is nice.
Alison: It’s also really great to have our short film in a big boy festival like TIFF. A great honour.
Your previous won an Oscar for Best Animated Short what was that experience like?
It was fabulous. Not going to say it wasn’t. It was the year of Pulp Fiction, which did not win, but we were excited to be there with those people. We had been nominated twice before, so this was not the first time going. Before that, we felt we had little chance of winning. This time, we felt that any of the films could have won, so in a way, we were more nervous.
Did winning the Oscar add an additional pressure on you both as filmmakers?
Not really. It more gave us that extra prestige that goes with such a major award. It does open doors, but we found that that’s all it does. Once in the door, you don’t get anything for free. Your work has to stand on its own every time.
Tell me a little bit about Animal Behaviour, how did the film come about?
We were inspired by issues around human behaviour and whether people should strive to change to fit in, or should others accept you for who you are. We felt that if we used animals, it highlighted behaviour that was well established, but also analogous to human behaviour.
What was the most challenging part of making this film been?
I think the writing. We worked hard on the script to get the balance and tone just right and did multiple drafts and tweaks and kept tweaking through the film edit so that it would work as good as it could. That and the fact that the film takes place almost all in one room, which meant we had to design the shots to keep it interesting.
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?
David: I have been making films since I was about 13 years old, so yeah. I started in Super 8.
Alison: Yes, I’ve always loved the movies and writing stories. We both actually studied live action at film school before moving to animation because we had done animation before that as well.
How did you both meet?
We met at the National Film and Television School just outside London. David came from Canada to study there and we worked together on our student films.
How much has your approach to filmmaking changed since your debut film?
I think we started with simple ideas and got more confident with our writing as we got more experience.
"Focus on story and emotion over technique."
How would you describe Animal Behaviour in three words?
Three words…Animals in therapy.
Do you have any advice or tips for any fellow animators?
Make films you can enter into festivals and get a name for yourself. Focus on story and emotion over technique. Move your audience in some way.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from this film?
We hope it opens a discussion about behaviour, but most of all, we hope people find it funny and emotional. We try to infuse our films with an emotional truth and if that comes off, we will have felt that we succeeded.