Interview with the Birdman Filmmakers


1.      What was your first conscious memory you’d be making films at some point in your life?

Yixing Li: When I was 14 years old, I got really interested in film.

Maisie Luo: I am a sculptor and a painter, but I am always open to try new mediums. I was intrigued by the format of a stop motion film because it involves sculpting the set and figure as well as learning and understanding how the figure moves.

2.      Why did you want to tell this particular story?

Yixing Li and Maisie Luo: Flying has always been, and still is my dream and I want to share that desire and passion with others.

3.      Where was it made?

Yixing Li and Maisie Luo: We started making the set in Idyllwild, California, and moved to Shenzhen, China to finish the set and started animating there for three months. Then we moved back to Idyllwild and finished the stop motion.

4.      Who contributed the most to the success of your film?

Maisie Luo and Yixing Li: We received many supports from Idyllwild Arts Academy, and many other people, who helped us renting the studio, doing special effects, giving us advices, and etc. They gave us tremendous amount of support. Everyone who helped us lead to the success of our film.

5.      If you could give advice to a filmmaker hesitating on picking up a camera to tell their story, what would it be?

Maisie Luo: We decided to make Birdman with no experience or any ideas of how stop motion works, but we were both very passionate about our story and the making process, so we didn’t think much and just did it. Of course there are many expected and unexpected obstacles, but once you just have to be brave and overcome all of them.

Yixing Li: You can’t tell a story without picking up a camera. Be bold and liberate yourself.

6.      What films or filmmakers most influence you in your lifetime?

Maisie Luo: The Steamroller and the Violin by Tarkovsky.

Yixing Li: Kurosawa, of course. Everyone is influenced by him. Tarkovsky’s sincerity and faith inspired me too.

7.      What’s your next project going to be?

Maisie Luo and Yixing Li: We both look forward to making more stop motions in the future. it creates a physical quality and leaves traces of the animating progress. We are not sure about the date yet because it requires so much dedication and resources, but we are always open to opportunities.

8.      Your acceptance speech for this film, what would you like to let people know about the film, about you, or about those who helped you in your journey in life?

Maisie Luo: I want to thank DIY Film Festival for giving Birdman the best movie and best animation award. We are very happy to receive this award, and we truly appreciate everyone who enjoy the movie. I want to thank my parents, Don Putt, Isaac Newton who encouraged us to make Birdman and people in Shenzhen Industrial Art Museum who helped us in many ways to make Birdman become true. I realized that film making is really teamwork, and the result is the collective effort. We didn’t have much equipment, so I have to animate with my hand for each frame. I really want to thank Yixing Li, who always supported me when I face difficulties in animating. The experience was unforgettable, and it taught me a lot of things.

Yixing Li: The person that I need to thank the most is Maisie Luo, who was not only my production partner, but who brought my passion and dream into forms. For that, I’m forever grateful. I thank everyone who helped us to make this film possible. The AEL grant and Isaac Newton and my mother.

9.      Where are you from? (what city, what's it like in your city)

Maisie Luo: I was born in Shenzhen, China, which is a very young and energetic city not very far away from Hong Kong. People are very open for new things. I lived there for 13 years and moved to Los Angeles.

Yixing Li: I was born in Tokyo, Japan. It’s a very diverse and dynamic city. It’s the center of arts, cutting edge technology. Tokyo is very modern but cultures are very well preserved.

What editing software did you use, and have you ever used Pinnacle before or heard anything about it?

Yixing Li and Maisie Luo: We have never used Pinnacle before, but we are very interested in exploring it. For Birdman, we used DragonFrame, (Adobe) Premier, and Davinci Resolve.

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