Cartoon Saloon's Mark Mullery on 'The Breadwinner,' 'Wolfwalkers'
Mark Mullery, technical director on Cartoon Saloon’s highly anticipated animated film “The Breadwinner” and assistant director of its upcoming “Wolfwalkers,” talks to the VIEW Conference about working on those projects ahead of his presentation on “The Breadwinner,” scheduled for Friday, Oct. 27, beginning at 10 a.m.
Your talk will be one of the first looks behind-the-scenes at the making of "The Breadwinner." As technical director, please tell us a bit about what that role entails.
The term technical director means different things in different studios. In huge CGI studios, there are multiple technical directors in each department. In Cartoon Saloon, and on “The Breadwinner,” the role was basically to plan how we go about making the feature and then execute that plan over the course of the production.
What were some of your biggest challenges on "The Breadwinner?"
Getting the paper cut-out sections looking as beautiful as they could be. We developed a series of techniques with the composite team in Canada and once we saw how lush and gorgeous it looked in their tests, we iterated and iterated every shot until they each looked perfect, which was pretty time-consuming. A second major challenge was populating Kabul with crowds of people. This background animation had to be as developed and on-style as the main character animation, but it couldn't be distracting or eye-catching, especially when we want to focus on the intimate conversations happening in the foreground. That was a difficult brief to fulfill.
What are you most proud of on this project?
On a technical level, I feel we achieved a real sense of space through lighting. Nora [Twomey], our director, often referenced the Dutch Masters when describing how our characters should meld into their surroundings when lit by candle. I feel we really managed to make those interiors feel cozy and intimate despite the hardship we're depicting. But on a broader level, we've had some feedback from Afghans who lived through this period and knowing that we did a half-decent job of trying to represent their experiences means a lot to me. It's something I'm very proud of.
You are also assistant director on Cartoon Saloon's upcoming "Wolfwalkers." Can you tell us a bit about that production?
It's early days on “Wolfwalkers.” We're about halfway through the storyboarding process now and I'm really excited about this one. The story is set in the mid-17th century in Kilkenny where Cartoon Saloon is based. One of the main locations in the film, Kilkenny Castle, is visible from our story room so it already feels strangely lifelike.
Is this your first time at the VIEW Conference? What other talks at the VIEW Conference are you most interested in checking out?
Thanks to my schedule on ”Wolfwalkers” I'm going to miss the “Blade Runner” keynote, which is a real pity. But I definitely want to catch Rob Coleman's talk just before mine on Friday. It should be great. I often refer to the LEGO movies' technical approach when trying to describe how we made our paper cut-out sections in “The Breadwinner.”