In September 1999, Moscow newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda interviewed Ukranian-born Igor Kovalyov, director of The Rugrats Movie and veteran director of the Rugrats TV series. Interview © 1999 Komsomolskaya Pravda; English translation by and © 1999 Alexander B.
Igor Kovalyov was born in Kiev on January 17, 1963. At 17, he begun to work in animation. In 1988, with Alexander Tatarsky, he open the first independent cartoon studio in the Soviet Union. It was called "Pilot". Igor's most popular Russian cartoons were Ee Jena Kuritca (His Wife is a Hen), Andrei Swislotzky, and of course, jointly with Tatarsky -- Krilia, Nogi i Chvosti (Wings, Legs and Tails) and Sledstvie vedut Kolobki (Investigation conducted by the Kolobki Brothers) (Kolobki is a hero of a Russian fairy tale. This cartoon is very popular in Russia, from it originated a talk-show under name Pilots Brothers and two computer games.). In the beggining of 1990, he left for the USA for work, regaining Russian citizenship.
KP: "Igor, first a little silly question: How did you get into America?"
Igor: "About 12 years ago I've got an invitation to the US to show my films. I've went and shown the films. And then the Klasky-Csupo president invited me to work with them. The studio produced the Rugrats series and I directed a few episodes. After some time Paramount and Nickelodeon decided to make a film for theatrical distribution, based on the TV show. Paramount asked Klasky-Csupo that The Rugrats Movie was to be directed by me. Later, I started to work American director, Norton Virgien.
KP: "Do you have any new projects?"
Igor: "Very much. I'm almost finished my 10-minute film short. After this, Paramount will produce a full-length animated feature, Petia i Volk (Peter and the Wolf) by Prokofiev. I already signed that contract."
KP: "How do you think, why your film earned so much at the box office?"
Igor: "It depends on one thing - popularity of the show. It has aired for many years; the kids liked it very much. I think, if it was directed by someone else, the film would've earned just as much money. I've been also the artist and designer in that film. I designed the Reptar Wagon and the new character, Dil, who wasn't in show before."
KP: "Film earned over US$100 million. What is your fee?"
Igor: "We haven't got any bonuses after the film's release, but during the production, we got a very good weekly salary. All the money I've earned, I spent on my own animated film short."
KP: "In The Rugrats Movie, there was one scene with Russian circus monkeys. Was it your idea to making the monkeys Russian?"
Igor: "No; it was the writers' idea."
KP: "And trainer's name Igor, and he's from Kiev..."
Igor: "O-o...When I produced the film, I was asked: It is possible to name this character "Igor"? Why not?"
KP: "This character got his traits from you?"
Igor: "He absolutely does not resemble me. But his appearance - it's my idea."
KP: "Who's idea was it to invite Whoopi Goldberg to voice a bit part?"
Igor: "Of course it's not my idea, but Paramount's. The movie needed big stars. But I decided what part would Goldberg be voicing. When we met each other, she told me that she has never worked with a Russian director."
KP: "But Konchalovsky?"
Igor: "She apparently didn't work with Konchalovsky?"
KP: "How about Homer & Eddie?"
Igor: "Maybe. But she told me that she hasn't worked with Russians before. Maybe she forgot. She's so forgetful sometimes."
KP: "What was your kids' opinion about The Rugrats Movie?"
Igor: "They like it. But I did not like it the way they did. Film is different from other Hollywood productions; it so...ordinary. It was so hard to bring something from myself in it. Paramount had it all under their control. I related to this film not as my own product, but as a very commercialized Hollywood production. The main reason why I directed The Rugrats Movie is I wanted to earn money for my own project."
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