Minions movie: Released in cinemas this week is the Despicable Me spin-off Minions, and we sat down to speak with the film’s directors Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin.
With the release of Minions on the horizon, I sat down with the two directors of the Despicable Me spin off, Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin. We discussed a number of topics related to the release of the film including where the idea for the Minions movie came from?
Kyle Balda: The idea of the minions came from our writer Brian Lynch, who had this idea of convention like Comic-Con but for villains and the minions were looking for a big boss to work for and part of the appeal of the idea was how could you tell a story about these three guys and what makes them different from the other minions and explore their personalities and see where they came from.
Co-director and voice of the minions, Pierre Coffin, started to discuss the language of the minions and the problems they encountered over the development of the characters.
Pierre Coffin: What we have in animation in comparison to live action is the gift of time, when you have sufficient money obviously, but we had three years and during that time we probably screwed up like three, four times going into directions and discussions like “How can we sustain an hour and a half with people who are talking gibberish?” And we started off with a male character who they met very quickly upfront and followed the group but eventually that man became a woman and when we saw about forty minutes of it on the animated storyboard, it wasn’t a minions movie, it was more about this woman. So that was six months into production and that’s when we went back to the drawing board and said we need those three characters but how do we sustain an hour and a half of storytelling without the gift of language and that’s how we embedded the voiceover, took more time to establish the characters, to make Kevin more of a leader instead of three little characters with no distinction. And that’s how we realised we needed a strong villain with texture.
Over the years, the characters of the Minions have become so universal to the point where anyone can enjoy them regardless of age or nationality, but how have the minions become so relatable to everyone?
KB: Part of that has to be the fact that they don’t speak one specific language, so you have to understand everything they say through their pantomime and body language. They also don’t look anything like humans; they’re very stylised and unique looking characters but so much of their gesturing is so relatable through human gesturing so you can empathise a lot with them and project yourself onto them very easily.
PC: And what’s great about those characters is they represent the essence of animation. In animation you can take a sphere and give it life and you would know if they were sad or happy or angry. When you have this gift of giving soul to an inanimate object, you’re actually asking the audience to make that little bit of effort to get interested in what’s happening and that magical effect that results from that attention is overwhelming because don’t have one recognisable language, I’m basically taking whatever word sounds good and try to embed it into a sentence that has a musical tone to it that help to signify “Oh he’s telling a joke, but he isn’t finding it very funny” so you have all that which is obviously a tribute to all these great physical comedians like Chaplin or Mr. Bean more recently, where you don’t need words as long as you’ve got a sense of what’s happening without the dialogue. It makes you feel witty to get it, to understand it; it feels like a snowball effect that you get carried by what these characters are expressing through emotion throughout the story.
Animations are always fun films to watch, but what was the fun of making the movie for Balda and Coffin and making being evil fun?
KB: A big part of it is making things that would be fun watching by ourselves, like the stop-motion sequence and the opening credits is a 2D animated scene so we wanted to play around with different things. Just finding different situations that we would be entertained by and just trying to work them out so that they would entertain other people but I think the villain part of it, the bad guy is always the most interesting character in a film and I think comedically too you can search for that kind of stuff like with the minions, they are trying to do bad things but they are not inheritably bad themselves.
PC: They suck at being bad basically.
The minions may suck at being bad but they are still very loveable and the same can be said about Balda and Coffin, two very nice guys who obviously love making these films and will continue to make films with the release of Despicable Me 3 in 2017, which means we have more minions on the way and more gibberish for Coffin to start thinking about.
Minions is released in cinemas from 26th June, 2015.