Dash Shaw & Jane Samborski Talk Beasts, Dreams, And Puppets



Shaw explains why the baku, a Japanese “elephantine being that sucks dreams,” was the right creature to build the film around. The pair talk through the difficulties of bringing the baku to life, visually and aurally.

Samborski cites the cut-out shadow puppets of Lotte Reiniger, with all their technical restrictions, as a major inspiration for Cryptozoo. She says she sometimes grows bored of her own style, at which point limitations like these come in useful. The resulting “tension between the realism I want and what my puppet will actually achieve” generates an artistic spark.

The husband-and-wife team previously collaborated on the 2016 feature My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea. They run through what they took away from their first film, and what they had to learn when making Cryptozoo. In the end, though, experience is only one ingredient for success. As Shaw puts it, the creative process is equally dependent on a “weird naïveté” — a complete focus, free from distracting thoughts of how audiences will react.


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