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Laura Blum

Laura is a festival correspondent covering films and the festival circuit for She also publishes on Thalo



Production Design on “Isle of Dogs”: A Chat with the Fantastic Mr. Paul Harrod

Paul Harrod says one of his favorite sculptors is August Rodin. It’s not a name you’d imagine getting love from the Portland co-production designer of Wes Anderson’s stop-motion animation Isle of Dogs. But considering that the visuals of this phantasmagoria jointly styled with Adam Stockhausen are a breakthrough in the art form, it’s no wonder the virtuosity behind them involved the study of a master.

Harrod’s more direct influences came from stop-motion animators such as Ray Harryhausen (Jason and the Argonauts) and Willis O'Brien (King Kong), he tells me in a recent phone chat. The 60-year-old designer is known for his miniature sets in Pee-Wee's Playhouse and claymation for Will Vinton Studios’ California Raisins, not to mention his episode direction of the animated TV series The PJs. To help build the world of Isle of Dogs, Harrod lived in London from 2015 – 2017.

That world is the fictitious Japanese city of Megasaki, 20 years in the future. Not since Anderson’s 2009 Fantastic Mr. Fox has a canine caper so enthralled. The eponymous setting is Trash Island, where Megasaki’s hounds are banished during an epidemic of Snout Fever lest it spread to humans. Mayor Kobayashi (voiced by Kunichi Nomura, who jointly developed the script with Anderson, Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman) is the mastermind of that nefarious plot. Hizzoner’s chief disrupter turns out to be his adopted ward Atari (Koyu Rankin). All of 12, Atari commandeers a prop-jet to the vermin-infested outpost to rescue his trusty watchdog Spots (Liev Schreiber). 
Full interview continues here:

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