A few months ago I accompanied my three-year-old niece on her first expedition to an aquarium. Beforehand we shared sushi across the road (she’s not adverse to the occasional avocado hand roll) and came up with a plan. She made it very clear which two kinds of fish were on the itinerary. They were — and these were their scientific names, at least in her mind — Nemo and Dory. Also known, if one is to grudgingly acknowledge their real life counterparts, as a clownfish and a pacific regal blue tang.
Penguin smenguin. Shark smark. Eel shmeel. The objective was clear: we were to find, as it were, Nemo. Everything else didn’t register a blip on the radar.
These aren’t, of course, the only film and TV characters she knows. Her young memory is dotted with various creatures strewn across the pop culture landscape and the narratives and scenarios that contextualise them. I remember thinking that it must be a wonderful thing to take part in a creative process that influences, sometimes in profound ways, the formative years of a person’s life. I also remembered thinking, as we hot-footed from one Nemo-less tank to the next, that it could be daunting.
“Actually I think that’s kind of cool,” the co-director of Finding Nemo (2003), Lee Unkrich, told me last week, in the country to speak at a Graphic festival at the Sydney Opera House. Continue reading “To infinity, the aquarium and beyond: interview with Lee Unkrich, director of Finding Nemo and Toy Story 3“