Riding a wave of success after winning the Oscar
for ĎBest Animated Short Filmí of 2003 for Harvie
Krumpet, Adam Elliot is back in Australia
promoting the filmís release on DVD. Heís off again
in America, but before he jetted off he set aside an
hour to talk to DVDnet about his experience
First of all, congratulations on the win. How do
you think Australia will now be perceived in the
animation industry by folks overseas?
Well, the sad truth is there really isnít an industry
as far as anyone over there knows. Maybe we
showed them a thing or two, but generally
speaking, we donít really have an international
Much has been said about the Oscars night
and your speech and the hotel fire and stuff, so
we wonít go there. Tell us though, what was the
silliest thing you took from the evening?
Probably backstage when it appears a bit more
obvious itís for TV, that Hollywood is a business.
The Oscars rates right behind the Superbowl. As to
silly though, there was a footprint on Renťe
Zellwegerís dress and we were trying to figure out
how to get it off. We didnít end up managing it.
So, where do you keep your Oscar?
Itís actually hidden in my dirty washing bag! You
really have to disguise it or you get too much
attention from it.
I read that Emma Thompson keeps hers in the
toilet so her guests can all have a go with themÖ
(Laughs) Yeah. Before you get it you have to sign
a contract that you wonít sell it or leave it to
anyone in your will. Itís quite valuable as thereís a
certain amount of gold in it, but you canít sell it
and if you want to, you can sell it back to the
Academy for one dollar.
I know, itís weird, but theyíre protecting their
image or something.
Is there anything from the whole US experience
that may appear in a future project?
Oh I donít know, the whole experience is too
vacuous and intense. You know there is so much
publicity and interviews and you just have to go
along with it. Sink or swim, you know, when you
have 300 interviews to do you just have to hang
on and get through it.
Iíll try to be briefÖ
(Laughs) No, thatís okay, this is alright.
Any thoughts on animating a feature film or
even just directing someone elseís project?
I try not to think that far ahead. A feature is
obviously somewhere down the track but for now
Iím happy making half-hour clay films. Obviously if
the chance came up to use Russell Crowe or Nicole
Kidman or something, yeah, I would look at that,
but I donít know for now.
Maybe an overseas actor?
Since your triumphant return to Australia,
publicity has kept you hopping about a bit signing
copies of DVDs and suchÖ doing phone interviews
for DVD websitesÖ whatís all that been like?
(Laughs) Oh look, itís hard when your publicist
emails you and tells you your schedule for today
and you just have to do it. Itís an obligation that
attaches to the fame and you just have to go
along with it. Itís the sink or swim thing again, but
itís alright. Itíll fade out in the end.
Since your return to Australia the DVD has
been rush-released and looks great. How happy are
you with it?
Itís selling really well and it does look great. The
whole thingís sorta been out of my hands and I
havenít really had a chance to be critical. You
know Madman told me theyíd do a run of 5000
copies and then next they told me theyíll do
15,000 more and I was thinking itís too much, but
Iíve really underestimated the popularity of DVD. I
spend so much time getting people to go to
theatres to see the film and when you think about
it, it costs like twelve dollars and people have to
leave their homes and go out. But theyíre happy to
spend three times that to get the DVD. I donít
But you have a DVD forever with extras and
you can watch it over and overÖ
I guess so. Madman told me that DVDs were the
most popular present last Christmas and Iíd never
really thought much about the market, but itís
huge so that takes some more thinking about.
How did you find doing the audio commentary?
I have a comic strip in which I do a cartoonistís
Öand I find Iím limited by space and what I can
say without sounding like a wanker. How did you
find doing the ones for firstly Harvie, then
revisiting your older films?
It was really difficult. Ironically, it took longer than
it took to record Geoffrey Rush (narrator of
Harvie Krumpet), there were lots and lots
of takes. It was really hard to know what to leave
in and what to talk about. You know there are 280
shots in Harvie and every shot has a story
So I guess you were limited by space too?
Oh definitely. Absolutely. It was very hard.
Did you choose the Easter egg inclusion for the
I havenít found it yet! Where is it? I donít know
where it is.
(A lengthy discussion ensues regarding Easter
eggs and their location, followed by an in-depth
discussion of what it is to review DVDs. Somehow,
the interview has turned to me and my
Going back to Harvie the film, my editor
and I are quite taken with Ruby. Iím sorta glad we
never saw Ruby as an adult. She seemed to remain
more simple and humble that way. Was this
Yes, definitely. She was a bright spark that came
and went through Harvieís life. My mother used to
work in a nursing home and it was full of old
parents whose kids never came by to see them.
Itís just another of Harvieís unlucky experiences in
life that his one true joy came and went and left
him. Val left him by dying and Ruby went and
Harvie was once again all alone after some brief
happiness. In America the crowd gasped in horror
when they saw I was using a thalidomide baby,
thinking ĎOh my God, heís gone too farí, but then
the next couple of minutes straightens it out. Itís
similar to my own experiences with my cousin in my
other film, Cousin. He had cerebral palsy
but it never affected him, only others around him.
I recently read a book by a guy who stated as
a kid no one told him he was poor so he never
Exactly. Itís the people around them who have
ideas. Ruby never lets her Ďdisabilityí, for want of a
better word, bother her. I was very careful to
make sure she was always smiling and happy.
My editor and I want Ruby toys. Are there
plans for that sort of thing or merchandising?
You can buy Ruby T-shirts! A while back a
company approached me and since others have
asked if they can make Harvie doona covers or
whatever. Again, we underestimated the popularity
of the film. When that runs of shirts is over I think
weíll make some of our own, but weíll limit what we
make. We donít want to exploit the film in any
way, just respond to the popularity.
Your characters all wear plasticine clothes. Is
this deliberate, or do you intend using fabrics in
The bodies of the characters are actually car bog.
You know that pink stuff they fix rust with? The
limbs are plasticine for movementís sake and the
bodies are all painted with house paint.
Yeah, we use Dulux house paint on everything. The
costumes, the characters, the sets - everything.
Letís move away from Harvie now.
What was the last good book you read?
Iím reading True Tales of American Life by
Paul Auster. He runs a radio show and asks people
to phone in short stories of life. Heís compiled them
into a book and itís fascinating. I love short stories
and I love autobiographies.
They would seem to be right up your
So how about film? What was the last good film
Probably American Splendor, that was just
so good. I went and saw all the Oscar nominees,
so saw Master and Commander and another
one with Bill MurrayÖ I canít think of the nameÖ
Lost in Translation?
Yeah, Lost in Translation. That was great.
I wanted to see all the nominees so Iíd be able to
keep up, but American Splendor was
amazing, the way it was part real, part fiction, part
documentary, an autobiographyÖ
(A doorbell rings as Adam receives a guest).
Youíll be happy to know the trailer is on the
Yes, actually. Iíll be interested to see the
(American Splendor) DVD.
Okay, I wonít keep you now as you have
company but one final question: Whatís next?
Good question. Iím heading back to the US this
week to meet with some people and discuss things
with my producer. In an ideal word Iíll keep making
half-hour claymated films. Iím looking at a few
things but time will tell I suppose.
Harvie Krumpet is currently available to
have and to hold on DVD from Madman and the AV
LINK : http://www.dvd.net.au/goto.cgi?news.cgi?id=4356
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