Skip to main content

The Lesson The Kubo And The Two Strings Director Tried To Learn From Ben Affleck

Kubo and the Two Strings

Formally mostly known as one of the biggest actors in Hollywood, Ben Affleck has proven himself immensely skilled when it comes to wearing different hats on his film sets. His work in front of the camera has continued, of course, but he has also emerged as one of the industry's most successful directors, while also writing scripts and producing his own projects. It's not hard to see how this work could be motivational to other filmmakers, but one particular person who has found inspiration in Affleck's work is Travis Knight -- the CEO of the stop-motion animation studio Laika, who will soon see the release of his directorial debut, Kubo and the Two Strings.

Knight has always been heavily involved in the films that his studio has released, working as both producer and lead animator on 2012's ParaNorman and 2014's The Boxtrolls, but I learned about the interesting influence Ben Affleck had on him when I recently had the chance to join a group of other film journalists visiting the set of Kubo and the Two Strings at Laika's studio in Portland, Oregon. Discussing his work to try and be as hands-on as possible throughout the production, Knight noted that he looked at Ben Affleck as someone who could juggle many different jobs at once -- but also realized that it's not exactly easy work. Said the filmmaker,

Early on, going back two years ago, we were just getting started on shooting. I thought, 'Oh yeah, I can do this. I can animate and I can direct, and I can run the company all at the same time. No problem.' I looked at models - Ben Affleck. Ben Affleck can act and direct, so clearly I'm as good as Ben Affleck! [laughs] I'm not as good as Ben Affleck, it turns out. Turns out that directing is actually a full time job.

This was clearly an unfortunate realization for Travis Knight, but it didn't deter him from still trying to be as involved with the making of Kubo and the Two Strings as he possibly could be. It took hard work to accomplish, as well as some creative scheduling, but Knight still found himself some time to personally animate sequences and bring characters to life:

I've always, in everything that we've done, I always want to keep getting my hands dirty, to have my hands in actually creating the stuff, not just calling the shots. So it was important to me, even as tricky as it was to schedule, and as much havoc as it wreaked on my life, to try to find those moments when I could get out on set.

It occasionally required Travis Knight showing up to Laika early in the day before all of his animators so that he could photograph a few frames himself, but it did ultimately work. There are scenes in Kubo And The Two Strings that the director/producer/animator was able to work on himself -- including an absolutely gorgeous beach sequence that's featured in the early minutes of the movie. Needless to say, it's not hard to appreciate his work ethic.

Kubo And The Two Strings will be in theaters on August 19th, and be sure to stay tuned for more from our behind-the-scenes look at the film!

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

NJ native who calls LA home and lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran who is endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.