Modest Mouse

King Rat


Directed by:
Heath Ledger

Daniel Auber

Lead Animator:
Norris Houk

Jade Taglioli

Sara Cline

Production House:
The Masses

Song by:
Modest Mouse

Co-director Notes

Daniel Auber: A few weeks before starting, I made a sketch of a fishing whale character. Heath liked it, so I knew more or less what kind of style I should draw going forward. When I joined him in London, Terry Gilliam let us work in the conference room of Peerless, his visual effects company. It was luxury: we had a massive window overlooking Covent Garden, and Terry's creative vibrations in the air.

Terry would come to see the progress every once in a while and we were excited to hear his advice. This is why Heath decided to have the Monty Python trumpets popping down from the clouds, and also why I proposed to have Terry's face as The Sun in our video. We felt like school kids inspired by our favorite teacher.

Ninety percent of the drawings that are used in the video were intended to be storyboard sketches. This was our working chain: Heath would tell me what happens in the scene, I would draw the shots, then he would edit them with the song. We laughed like children as we looked at the results, the new toy was working.

We started the process from the beginning of the song: blue colours are bright and serene, with a tiny tone of green suggesting a possible sinister evolution in the story. As the video advances, the quantity of green and black increases, preparing us for darkness. When our eyes have adjusted to the desaturated tones, a complementary bright red starts to appear.

The clip had to be shocking. The fun we were having was less important than the strength of Heath's message in favour of marine wildlife. The treatment he wrote initially was a bit longer. We had to cut the restaurant scene where the whales eat sushi made with human fingers. It didn't matter because the pet seal's close-up was a strong ending.

Source: The Masses