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Adam Elliot on the director as circus ringmaster

By ACMI, 2010 2:59 minutes

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Once the storyboard and script for Mary and Max were in place, there was an intensive pre-production stage. This period was the chance to get things right. It was a time of intense pressure for Adam Elliot. In his role as director, he needed to make many important decisions on the spot. A number of key logistical and artistic decisions had to be made about how the film was going to look (its aesthetic) and the studio, equipment, artists, animators and crew.

Collection Screen Worlds


Discussion Points

Prior to the pre-production phase of Mary and Max it was essential that the storyboard and script were ‘locked off’.

  • Why is it important that the script and storyboard are firmly in place at this stage of a large animation project?

Adam Elliot describes the intense pressure and crippling workload that came with the role of directing Mary and Max.

Nevertheless, while acknowledging the risks of making a wrong decision about some aspect of the production, he suggests that his intimate understanding of the characters kept the project on course: “These characters were very real people to me, so in a way they directed themselves.”

  • What are the advantages of a director being able to work with characters and a story that he or she has created?
  • Might there be any drawbacks to a director being so emotionally connected to their own personal vision?

Elliot refers to the diverse skills that Australian production crews possess.

  •     What is it about the Australian production landscape that might mean film practitioners are particularly resourceful and multi-skilled?