‘Anomalisa’ Co-Directors Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson on Long Takes, Crowdfunding

     January 9, 2016


One of my favorite films of 2015 was Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson’s Anomalisa. The stop-motion animated film might have fallen off your radar thanks to the marketing of the holiday season’s big blockbusters flooding the feeds, but I promise you this film is special and something you need to see. If you’re not familiar with the story, Anomalisa follows Michael Stone (David Thewlis), a deeply depressed man who might just have found the love of his life in Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a physically scarred woman who has come to Cincinnati to hear Michael speak.

As you might expect from the mind of Charlie Kaufman, Anomalisa is unlike anything you’ve ever seen and he tackles subject matter that’s often overlooked by other filmmakers. The end result is sweet, funny, depressing, sad, fresh and totally brilliant. I really can’t recommend this film enough.

To help promote the film, I recently visited Starburns Industries, where Anomalisa was shot and produced, to speak with Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson. They talked about gaining financing for this film, memorable moments from filming, adding details to the film adaptation after their original sound play of the material, creating some of the longer shots, if Kaufman takes inspiration from moments he sees out in the world or does he write in the moment, what Kaufman fans can do to see his dropped FX series How and Why, and a lot more. Check out what they had to say below.


Image via Paramount

Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson:

  • When did they know that the story and the film’s progression were locked in?
  • How long was their first cut?
  • Was there story that got cut due to cost and/or time?
  • On adding details after the original audio play.
  • On creating some of the longer shots, including the elevator scene.
  • Where do these set creations (like the one shown behind Kaufman and Johnson in the video) end up?
  • When writing, does Kaufman take inspiration from moments he sees out in the world or does he write in the moment?
  • On gaining financing for this film.
  • Was there ever a point where they thought the film would never get made?
  • On seeing the reactions to their film compared with the effort needed to make it.
  • What can Kaufman fans potentially do to see his dropped FX series?
  • Are they talking about doing something else together?
  • Is there a day or two that they’ll always remember in the making of this film?


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