“Puppet making is definitely not for everybody,” Georgina Hayns told me during an interview to promote her most recent film “Coraline,” which was just released on DVD and Blueray last week. “But there is a particular breed of people out there that love doing it.”
As the character fabrication supervisor for “Coraline,” Hayns is part of that “particular breed” of specialized artists who live for the complex and time-consuming process of stop-motion animation.
After three years of steadfast work, Hayns, who also worked on Tim Burton’s “Corpse Bride,” had helped give life to a 2002 story written by author Neil Gaiman. The dark tale follows Coraline Jones, a young girl who finds an eerie parallel world when she walks through a secret door in her home. The film is directed by Henry Selick (“The Nightmare Before Christmas”).
Your job seems like a lot of fun, but also very intricate to the point where it could become maddening. Do you ever just get aggravated with the process?
(Laughs) Not so much aggravated, but there is frustration when you’re problem solving. You walk in that morning and you have no idea what problem is going to hit you that day. But it’s really rewarding as well. You have a day of frustration but usually that day will end with, “Ah! This is how you do it!” When you see the puppets you built as characters walking across the screen, jumping, singing, and dancing, it’s all worth it.
What is it about stop-motion animation that you love so much when compared to other types of animation?
I think with stop-motion animation you can see every texture. It looks so real. You can see a thread hanging off a puppet if you’ve forgotten to chop it off. I’ve been a maker of things since I was old enough to walk and talk. I was never bored if I had fabric in my hands. It’s the perfect job for someone like me.
Is creating hair as challenging as other animators say it is?
Oh yes. (Laughs). It’s interesting because until I came onto “Coraline” if someone came to us with a proposition about wanting hair to move we would really sit there and talk them out of it. This was the great thing about working with [director] Henry [Selick]. He knew exactly what he wanted. One of the things that he wanted to see done successfully was hair. He wanted real hair and he wanted to see it flowing in the breeze. It was a time-consuming task, but the results were incredible.
“Coraline” is a very dark film. What kinds of stories did you read growing up?
My absolute favorite stories as a child were Rumplestiltskin and Rapunzel. I grew up in an era when the Grimm’s fairytales were very popular especially in England. We would go and use our pocket money and buy these stories. Both are really dark.
So, what is your favorite ending to Little Red Riding Hood, one of those stories that has gone through so many variations including a few from the Brothers Grimm?
I think my favorite ending was the one I had as a kid. It’s funny because now as you grow older you don’t like the fact that they kill the wolf. But when I was a kid I liked the version when they kill the wolf and find the grandma still alive inside the wolf.
What does 3-D bring to a movie like “Coraline?” Is it the same film without the 3-D?
I actually saw it in England for the first time and not in 3-D. What I found is that the movie actually lost that initial impact without it. My brain has become accustomed to 3-D. The first day I walked into a screening room and saw it in 3-D I was blown away. I know what it means for a viewer to go into a cinema and see that. It took me back to the time as a kid when I looked though a View-Master. That was one of the main reasons I ended up making puppets. I wanted to live in the world inside the View-Master.