Scott Bates chats with Douglas Booth about Loving Vincent…
Scott Bates: First I want to ask you about the style of the film – it’s the first feature film to be fully hand-painted, how involved were you in the actual creative process, in respects to the animation, etc?
Douglas Booth: None of it other than the acting. I was brought on board – it took seven years to make this movie, from conception to the final product, I got brought in two years ago. They got a casting director and they said “We have these Van Gogh paintings, who looks like them?” and then they approached me, they approached Saoirse Ronan, Helen McRory, Chris O’Dowd, Eleanor Tomlinson, Aidan Turner, and we came on and we shot it in about three and a half, four weeks, very quickly, didn’t have much money, in three studios and a little bit in Poland. All the credit to this movie goes to the filmmakers and the painters; they have worked tirelessly at this for such a long time, and they have kept their head above water, there’s been blood, sweat and tears, they’ve had painters come from all over the world, one hundred and twenty of them, and they have worked tirelessly hard in a studio, for months, to produce sometimes less than thirty seconds of footage. So my contribution to this is nothing compared to these amazing artists, so it really is their film.
I did get to go over to Poland and witness them in the studio, and the amount of attention to detail, every frame of the sixty five thousand frames needs to be approved by their heads of painting to make sure the film isn’t just completely changing the style and the quality of painting is staying the same. And they even had to go back and re-paint a couple of thousand frames because I think they discovered, through research, halfway through the film that Van Gogh actually cut his whole ear off – or was it half of his ear – it was different from what they’d previously been told, so they then had to go and re-paint a certain amount of each frame, that’s the attention to detail they had.
So you were brought on two years ago – when did the shoot complete?
In the summer, two years ago. I mean obviously with post-production I’d come in and do ADR and stuff like that.
What was it about this project, specifically, that you found interesting? Was it the fact that it was completely hand-painted? Was it the subject matter?
It was that it was a completely original project, and it was being pained, and I didn’t really know that much about Van Gogh, other than he went a bit mad, cut off his ear, and paintings have sold for a lot of money. But through this I went on kind of a similar journey that my character goes on, which is a journey of discovery, learning more about who he is as a man, and now I have a massive appreciation of him – I have prints of his at home, I’ve travelled to Amsterdam to go to the Van Gogh museum, and you see that he’s someone who didn’t just paint what he saw, he painted with emotion, and he, when you kind of learn more about his story, then you go and look at his work it moves you in a certain way, you know, and I was moved by the film when I saw it in the end. He has a moving tale.
Which the other actors, who did you enjoy working with the most?
I had a really good time with Eleanor Tomlinson, we had some really nice scenes so I really enjoyed working with her, but also everyone, Saoirse, Aidan, Helen McCrory – I mean I think she’s just one of the most formidably talented actresses of her generation, she’d come and she just something different on every take, so many options and she’s just great. Chris O’Dowd – very dry, very funny, so yeah, it was a pleasure, all of it.
You’ve got a really great cast, and it’s such a unique concept for a film. I hope it’s – well it will be a success, I’m sure!
Yeah, well it’s being rolled out in LA and New York, they’re starting small and rolling out, and it keeps selling out the theaters, so hopefully it’ll come to more and more people!
Many thanks to Douglas Booth for taking the time for this interview.
Loving Vincent is out in UK and Irish cinemas on Friday, October 13th.