Annie Awards: Honoree Phil Tippett on Returning to 'Jurassic Park' and (Maybe) 'Star Wars' (Q&A)

The master of stop-motion animation also is returning to his roots with “Mad God,” a Kickstarter-funded project.
Phil Tippett

This story first appeared in the Feb. 7 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Steven Spielberg, Japanese animator Katsuhiro Otomo, whose work includes Akira, and visual effects Oscar winner Phil Tippett will be presented with Winsor McCay Awards at the Feb. 1 Annie Awards, hosted by the International Animated Film Society, ASIFA-Hollywood.

Tippett, 62, began his career when George Lucas enlisted him as part of the team that created the iconic stop-motion chess game for 1977's Star Wars: A New Hope. He won VFX Oscars for Return of the Jedi and Jurassic Park. Now, he's returned to his stop-motion roots with Mad God, a Kickstarter-funded project, while his Tippett Studio is reteaming with ILM on the 2015 release Jurassic World.

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Are you surprised to be returning to the world of Jurassic Park after all these years?

I've been out of the dinosaur business for a while, but my company did an app with a company called Efexio that helps users create creatures. It was a prologue to getting asked to join Jurassic World. My studio and ILM are going to partner up. The way [ILM chief creative officer] John Knoll pitched it to me was, "getting the old band back together."

Will you also be working on the new Star Wars movie?

I talked to [Luscasfilm president] Kathleen Kennedy about it, but first will be Jurassic World, then we'll see where they're at.

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What's the future for stop-motion films?

The last couple of productions [like Tim Burton's Frankenweenie], I don't think did what the studios hoped. So it is hard to know if they have an appetite for that kind of thing. But there's a huge proliferation of really interesting stop-motion short films.

Do you see animated movies themselves changing?

On theatrical features, nothing is going to [greatly] change until the technology significantly changes -- that's what happened with sound, color and CG."

The Annie Awards take place Feb. 1 in Royce Hall, UCLA.