INTERVIEWS - Hayao Miyazaki on Ponyo - Part 1 of 3

Here's the first of a three part interview with Hayao Miyazaki about Ponyo at the Venice Film Festival in 2008.  I've transcribed the interview below the video.

Question: For this film there are 70,000 hand drawn frames. Why did you decide not to resort to computer graphics for this animation?

Miyazaki: Digital techniques are extremely useful and there is a progressive trend towards digitalization in our industry. However, as the trend towards digitalization increases the real strength of animation as a whole decreases, and this is why I decided to use the pencil.

Question: Could you tell us the reason why you chose to tell the story of Ponyo, which is based on a familiar fairytale? Also, does this story have a special meaning for you?

Miyazaki: To be very precise, when I decided to develop this story I thought it was very similar to Anderson's The Little Mermaid, but in the end I really realized this similarity was only there for a short time.

Question: In your productions we have always seen many female characters. In this case we have Lisa, a very strong independent woman, who does everything by herself because her husband is far away at work. She is very brave and faces many dangers in order to save her son. Who did you draw your inspiration from for this character?

Miyazaki: There are many women like this in my staff, because of this I do not lack strong female models to base my female characters on.

Question: Why did you include so many references to Wagner's theatre in Ponyo?

Miyazaki: Ponyo, goes back home among the waves and this made me think of the characters riding the waves like Valkyries riding on the wind. I hope this answer is correct.

Question: People keep saying you'll step back from the animation industry and yet we still see you continuing to produce masterpieces. Where do you get all your creative ideas from and will you continue to make great films in the future?

Miyazaki: I am 67 years old now. When I do my next work I'll be more than seventy so I think I'll have to have help from the younger generation then.

Question: A lot of animation is going towards 3D. What do you think of this 3D development? Up to what point do you think this increased use of 3D animation will help animated films? Do you think using 3D techniques will make animation more arid or do you think it will make the medium flourish?

Miyazaki: As I said before, computer graphics are used a great deal, this use can at times be excessive and I think that animation is something that needs the pencil, needs man's drawing human hand. And this is why I decided to do this work in this way. I think there is a need to have the freedom to use computer graphics, but keeping the element of the hand drawing and the pencil is also important. I will continue to use my pencil as long as I can.