A Cat in Paris   

by screenwriter and co-director Alain Gagnol

The truth is that I don't like animation that much. Me, I wanted to make real films, with real actors and everything else.

Animation takes a long time to make. The process of creating it takes longer than a tortoise piled up with suitcases full of stones. I won't even tell you about the patience that this demands….

To throw yourself into animation is a sure sign of madness. You have to think that this idea is worth several years of your life. You have to believe that you will have the necessary energy to protect it. You have to persuade yourself that you know how to finish the film in the best quality possible. At the same time, you have to be convinced that your film (that will open in theaters in five years) will interest audiences.

All in all, you don't have to be a total realist.

No sane human being would willingly accept the task of creating a film image by image. It takes several days for only a few seconds on screen, and you wait months to see several minutes of film. And on top of that, it's not even in color yet!

We live in a time that requires speed and efficiency. This, incidentally, is a condition that always challenges directors of animation. You should see the faces of sponsors when you tell them they have to wait several years before they see what they’ve bought. Our slogan could be: "Pay now and see in three years." Evidently, it isn't very salesman-like.

But to make an animation also has its advantages. In A Cat in Paris, our characters climb Notre-Dame de Paris without authorization. We are able to run along the darkened roofs of Paris while remaining seated in our chairs. It is a matter of inventing a world out of nothing. We create the images but we also have to create the sound. The smallest bit of noise has to be invented. It is the creation from nothing that is the most exciting. 

We create a universe starting with the tip of our crayon. The drawings have always appeared magical to me. They have the power to project our imagination on a piece of paper and to make us believe what we see. The simplicity of the process is fascinating. Animation lends us the childlike ability to create and immerse ourselves in an imaginary world. Animation reminds us that, at its core, the nature of cinema is illusion. And when the film is successful, this illusion allows us to reflect. With the simple markings of crayons, we can see human beings live, fight and feel. 

I wanted to make real films, with real actors and everything else. Animation finally let me create everything else—cinema.

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