Sylvain Chomet — Adaptation and Direction
Sylvain Chomet was born in France in 1963. He obtained his baccalauréat in fine arts in 1982 and in 1987 graduated with a diploma in animation from the school of visual arts in Angoulême.
In 1986 he published his first graphic nevel ‘Le secret des libellules (The Secret of Dragonflies)’ and adapted Victor Hugo’s first novel ‘Bug-Jargal’, into a comic book.
Sylvain began his career in animation in September 1988 working as an assistant at Richard Purdum’s studio in London. Soon afterwards he began a freelance career, working for several London animation studios where he directed a number of animated TV commercials.
In 1989 (whilst continuing to write and publish graphic novels) he embarked on his first animated short film, La vieille dame et les pigeons (The Old Lady and the Pigeons) which was completed in 1996 and was nominated for an American Academy Award® in 1997.
In 1997 Sylvain worked briefly for Disney Animation Studios in Toronto, before being given the go-ahead by his producers to start the storyboard for his first animated feature film, The Triplets of Belleville. The Montreal-based movie took five years to make and was sold to more than 33 countries worldwide, including the USA and Japan. The Triplets of Belleville was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film and Best Song at the 2004 Academy Awards®.
More recently, Sylvain wrote and directed a five-minute live action slot for the collaborative feature film involving 20 internationally acclaimed directors, Paris je t’aime. A live action musical feature film set in 1970s Paris is currently in development in partnership with Paris je t’aime producer Claudie Ossard.
During the pre-production and production period of THE ILLUSIONIST Sylvain lived near Edinburgh, Scotland, where his studio, Django Films, was based and where THE ILLUSIONIST was created. He now lives and works in Provence.
Jacques Tati — Original Script
Jacques Tati (1907 – 1982) is considered one of the greatest movie directors of all time. Shortening his name from Tatischeff for simplicity, the future Oscar-winning icon of French cinema made his first feature length movie at the age of 42. Tati had spent his privileged early life (his ancestry traced back to Russian aristocracy) playing truant, indulging his passion for rugby and making his school friends laugh with improvised sports skits during post-match drinks.
Between 1930 and 1945 he transformed this talent for observation and fascination with the work of cinema slapstick artists such as W.C. Fields and Buster Keaton into a comedy stage act he toured around the music hall circuits of America and Europe. The experience gave him all the material he would need for the six movie masterpieces he made over the next three decades. Each captured an endearing combination of idealism, imagination and generosity – the reason Tati liked to call himself “The Don Quixote of cinema”.
The first was Jour de fête/Holiday (1949), a rural ballad starring Tati as a local postman too easily distracted from his bicycle rounds. Following this international box-office hit Tati then introduced the world to the character with which he is most fondly associated, Monsieur Hulot. This charming, self-effacing, amiably oblivious and elegantly maladroit comic creation, wearing his signature trench coat and stripy socks peeping out from his too-short trousers, tripped though assorted mishaps lampooning modern society in Les vacances du Monsieur Hulot/Mr. Hulot’s Holiday (1953), Mon oncle/My Uncle (1958), Play Time (1967) and Trafic/Traffic (1971).
His last film, Parade (1974), produced for Swedish television, saw Tati return to his vaudeville roots with a circus performance, showcasing clown, juggling, acrobatic and mime acts. From early burlesque to highly stylized modernism, Jacques Tati’s body of work continued the tradition of the silent comedy long after most audiences had forgotten it. Subtle, whimsical, gentle and very funny, with punch lines often coming after slow, deceptive build-ups, Tati’s greatest achievement was creating his own self-contained movie universe with a delightful disregard for what anybody else was doing.
Bob Last — Producer
Bob Last began his career as a Record Producer and Band Manager, founding the independent record label Fast Product in 1978. There he launched and managed bands including The Human League, ABC, Scritti Politti, Mekons, Gang of Four, Fire Engines, and Heaven 17; taking this talent pool from playing in front of the mirror to achieving trailblazing global hits (including both UK and USA #1 singles for The Human League). Last later transitioned into the film world as a Music Supervisor on film and television projects including over twenty films for MGM, Miramax, Scala, Sony, Warner Bros, including Chocolat, Entrapment, A Room For Romeo Brass, Little Voice, Hackers, Backbeat, Orlando, Maupin’s Tales Of The City, and Dennis Potter’s Lipstick On Your Collar.
Last then moved on to producing, serving as the Series Producer and Executive Producer on each program for The Century Of Cinema, a worldwide documentary series of 18 programs each directed by a leading figure from international cinema, including Martin Scorsese, Jean Luc Godard, Nagisa Oshima, George Miller, Mrinal Sen among others. He was the Executive Producer of Terence Davies’ The House Of Mirth starring Gillian Anderson, Eric Stoltz, Dan Aykroyd, and Laura Linney, which was nominated for Best British Film at the 2001 BAFTAs, and won Gillian Anderson the Best Actress Award at the British Independent Film Awards in 2000.
Last’s producing credits include Christopher Roth’s Baader, which won the Alfred Bauer Prize For Innovation in Cinema at Berlin in 2002; and Israeli animator Gili Dolev’s provocative Promise Land, which screened at the Edinburgh International Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival, and won the prestigious Clermont Ferrand Best Animated Film award in 2003. He also produced Ink.digital’s co-production with Lars Von Trier’s Zentropa and Latvian based Aboom of a children‟s stop motion animated feature adaptation of The Three Musketeers, C4 television’s Ideasfactory animation outreach project, and Oscar nominee Paula van der Oest’s Hidden Flaws, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival 2004. Last was Executive Producer for Matt Hulse’s Harrachov Exchange, winner of Best Experimental Film at the Melbourne International Film Festival 2007 and the Team-Work-Award at the 21st Stuttgart Filmwinter 2008.
Bob Last currently has a development partnership with Peter Fudakowski, developing both animation and live action features including a major family CGI feature set to go into pre-production in 2011. Last is also MD of Ink.digital, bringing decades of experience in creative project management to Ink’s youthful team. Recent Ink.digital work ranges from pipeline development and outsourcing for THE ILLUSIONIST to award-winning animated commercials. He is chairman of the Cultural Enterprise Office, the foremost organization advising new creative businesses in Scotland; and is an occasional tutor and consultant at the National Film and Television School in London and the International Film School in Cologne. He is also a member of the advisory board for Glasgow University’s “Creativity, Policy” research project at the Centre for Cultural Policy Research.