A Space Pod in Brewer Street (studio)
29 January 2013 (released)
07 February 2013
Meet the director and producer team behind A Liar’s Autobiography, and find out what they have to say about resurrecting the ghost of Monty Python Graham Chapman. Just don’t believe a word they say… In fact, WHO really provided the answers?
How did you decide on which animation style would be right for the individual chapters/scenes in the film?
Singing Telegram / Biggles:
All animators used their own style and technique, and really, we picked the people for their style. There’s this one sequence in the film when Graham is in LA, and glass was used as part of the animation technique. We thought “perfect”, because it not only reflects that particular time in his life but also the shallowness of the people in LA.
As for the 3D, it’s just there to give a little extra dimension to the scenes; we didn’t want any gimmicks that constantly keep jumping out at you.
How did you work out which pieces of dialogue might work best with certain scenes/animations in the film, and which ones might not?
To start with, we were slightly limited with the available dialogue, and we wanted scenes with dialogue. I mean there were scenes were we know we had to have large amounts of dialogue, for example when Chapman talks about going away and shagging lots of other people in other countries. We agreed that we needed to have this scene in, but in his book he just lists his encounters by saying, “Oh, and in this place I had sex with…” and “In that place I had sex with…” but for the film it would have been quite boring. So we needed to develop that scene into something more interesting then just the book’s ‘sex list’ section.
Did you encounter difficulties like that on several occasions?
Anatomy Don / Dr. One Across:
Basically, the principal was if there’s lots of dialogue there’s something we want to look at, like the sections with Graham’s parents, which made for some great scenes. But there was another part in the original which I really liked, but which we weren’t able to include in the film. It’s when Graham is on world tour and he ends up going to Hong Kong. He visits a massage parlour but he doesn’t have an interpreter, so he doesn’t have the nerve to take advantage of what’s on offer there. I thought it was written beautifully, but there’s no dialogue in it, and we just couldn’t use it.
But there’s another scene that had no dialogue, but which we did use. It’s when Graham is in Cambridge College, and one of the students chops up the professor. At first we passed it as ‘off’ because it didn’t have Graham’s dialogue in it, but the whole point of that scene is that he is not talking, because he’s hiding and shying away in the background.
It must have been very time-consuming sifting through all those audiotapes…
What was really nice was we had André Jacquemin doing the sound design, and he recorded all the records, so even though Graham was not talking, André took the outtakes that Graham had done and so he got everything, from the little pipe smoking noises to what have you. Everything that Graham did was there! It was really painstaking, and it took us hours and hours and hours to go through all the material.
How do you think the new generation of Python fans will react to it, and how do you think the Python purists will react to it?
We realise there is a generation of young people who grow up on programs like Family Guy, so there is a market for adult animation. We wanted to push that by putting lots of different styles together. I mean if you produce real good quality stuff, then I think any generation is going to like it. To answer your question regarding how the purists will react, there is no Terry Gilliam/typical Monty Python animation in our film. Terry wouldn’t do it, and if he didn’t want to do it then we weren’t interested in finding someone else to top it. The idea was to showcase next-generation Terry Gilliams with our film.
Also, every generation keeps ‘re-discovering’ Python, you go to a library or somewhere and grab a film from thirty, forty years ago. Quite a lot of people these days use YouTube of course, you can watch whole episodes of the original Python stuff.
We will try and get the audience to shout “Show us the Messiah” (from The Life Of Brian) before the film starts, but only in Jerusalem, haha! Or ask them to bring sandals along to wear.
What made you decide against using live action/slapstick live action in the film?
It’s an adaptation of Graham’s book, and the focus was on that. It’s not a biography, it’s an autobiography, and he wrote it in his own words. Also, the tone and the humour, you might think a slapstick element in the vein of Tom & Jerry is there, but that’s not really the way Graham used to write. It’s wordy, it's thoughtful, it’s intellectual, it’s ironic… So because of the tone and the humour, we opted for the animation route.
In the opening credits, Cameron Diaz’ character, ‘Sigmund Freud’, is spelled ‘Seigmund’. For what reason?
We believe in misspelling, haha. No. We deliberately used the wrong spelling so we wouldn’t get sued by the Sigmund Freund Estate.
With special thanks to Bill Jones, Ben Timlett, and Jeff Simpson.