Laika director Chris Butler on making new film Missing Link

Animation studio Laika’s new feature film follows an intrepid explorer and a loveable sasquatch on a quest to find Shangri-La. We talk to writer and director Chris Butler about creating the script, crafting its distinctive aesthetic and designing its endearing characters

Laika – the studio behind Coraline, Boxtrolls, ParaNorman and Kubo and the Two Strings – is back with a new animated feature. Set in the Victorian era, Missing Link follows English monster hunter Sir Lionel Frost as he travels around the world to reunite a sasquatch with his long lost ancestors. Along the way, they travel through the US, Europe and Asia, traversing cities, oceans and jungles to reach the fabled Shangri La.Like all of Laika’s feature films, Missing Link combines traditional stop-motion animation with CG visuals.

The film has a distinctive sound and aesthetic: it features dozens of colourful sets filled with handcrafted models and rich details, comically stylised characters (from the long-legged, angular jawed Sir Lionel to the sasquatch with his auburn curls and oversized hands), an A-list cast (including Emma Thompson, Zach Galifianakis, Zoe Saldana and Hugh Jackman) and music from the Coen brothers’ regular collaborator Carter Burwell.

While it is inspired by classic adventure movies, it offers a new twist on the genre – touching on themes ranging from friendship and belonging to conservation. Here, we talk to Chris Butler – who wrote and directed the film – about the inspiration for Missing Link and how he went about bringing his script to life.