Siggraph: Henry Selick Wants to Make Comedic, Live-Action Horror Films

Henry Selick Oscars P 2010
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ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Oscar-nominated director Henry Selick (Coraline) told The Hollywood Reporter that he’s turning his attention to new media projects, including "some comedic horror films," Monday at computer graphics conference Siggraph.

While Hollywood released a lot of big CG features this summer, Selick admitted, "I've never fit into that world or that sensibility. I'm looking at some comedic horror films because I have often been accused of being too dark.

"I'm not dark, not compared with Saw or anything like that," he asserted. "So I'm looking at live-action horror films but not slasher ones -- ones that have humor and maybe some social satire."

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Earlier in the day, the director said during a panel that big budget and box-office-minded studios are stifling creativity when it comes to animation. With that in mind, Selick is not keen to return to CG unless he's able to break away from the "cute and fuzzy" animations of today.

"If I do animation, potentially [it would be] for a short project in stop motion and be part of new media. My preference is stop motion," he said. "I'm not really that interested [in CG] until I got a chance to do something where the creative broke the mold, PG-13 and a subject matter that didn't have the same types of characters, cute and fuzzy and so forth."

Last year, for the first time, three of the five Oscar nominees for best animated feature were stop motion films, but Selick lamented, "The [stop motion] films didn't perform nearly as well as the CG films. At the end of the day, that’s how people vote and that's what Hollywood follows. The fact that none were blockbusters kind of hurt stop motion more than any time in its history.

"We can still do a stop motion feature for about one-third of what it costs Pixar or DreamWorks or Blue Sky to make a feature. But nobody is interested in a film that cost $50 to 60 million with the potential to do $120 million. They want to risk big money to make huge money.

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"They'd rather risk the money on The Lone Ranger," he added, zinging Disney's recent flop. "And that isn't going to work a lot of times, and people are going to lose their jobs."

Selick admitted that a studio executive told him " 'We're only allowed to make blockbusters' … Nobody wants to just make a hit, unless you are doing a $3 million horror film."

Calling new media a "brave new world," the director said: "I have more faith in doing something creative for a cable station or something like Yahoo or Google or Amazon. What Netflix did with House of Cards and David Fincher was brilliant. That is inspiring to me. I think there is more chance for creativity in animation, it just hasn't happened there yet."

Selick's most recent feature was Coraline, which was widely admired in 3D circles for its in-depth storytelling, but speaking with THR, the director admitted, "I don't think the creative [in 3D] can go farther until the technology improves.

"You can only go so far. You are still putting on welder goggles and it's dark," he said. "I also think the idea of charging more is a big mistake. … There was so much bad 3D when it came out, bad conversions. People were asking why they were paying extra and getting a headache."

In this area, Selick is looking ahead and said he has seen some experiments of holographic photography. "But I don't think that's going to be for giant screens; I think that is for more intimate settings."


Twitter: @CGinLA