RB: You can definitely see the anime influences in the film...
TM: It was crazy to see the posters for the film in Taiwan—the movie is being distributed there—and it doesn't look out of place to have those kind of Chinese characters. It was kind of interesting to see. The other thing was that we were working with a really small budget, so we were obviously inspired by people like Hayao Miyazaki, who does something quite cinematic even though he doesn't' have a huge budget.
RB: It's interesting you say that, because the story of your nomination really is an inspiration in its own right, that this small-budget movie can go up in a race against the likes of Pixar. Up is a fantastic movie, but I can't imagine the budget they were working with.
TM: At the end of the day, those movies have great budgets even for marketing and stuff, but underneath it all I think Up is just a great story. But it's lovely that we can go up against them. It really says something about the Academy, which I'm surprised about. I was quite cynical. I never imagined that a small film like ours could be considered alongside those big movies.
RB: You said you were hoping to redefine hand-drawn animation. How so? What is the statement you're trying to make?
TM: Well, first of all, that it doesn't always have to look the same. We looked at Irish art and said, "This lends itself to animation." These were like pre-Renaissance manuscripts we were looking at, they were highly decorative, so I said, "This is something that computers would maybe struggle to pull off." It shows that hand-drawn art is still relevant in animation. Also, we were able to push the expressiveness and show this world of imagination that Brendan was living in, where reality and dreams are kind of blended, because he didn't really have much experience beyond the walls of his village. I think a lot of kids in medieval times might have seen the world a little bit differently than today when we're bombarded with media.