Dean Fleischer-Camp first created his and Jenny Slate’s beloved talking seashell character in 2010 using only craft store supplies and toys from their local bodega. 12 years later, after three viral shorts, a few children’s books and a run at Sundance, Marcel the shod shell is finally a feature film.
The stop-motion animated film A24 stars Slate as the voice of Marcel, Isabella Rossellini as the voice of Marcel’s grandmother, Connie, and Dean Fleischer-Camp as a version of himself – a documentary filmmaker who moves into an Airbnb, meets Marcel and decides to interview him about his life. In an effort to find Marcel’s long-lost family, Fleischer-Camp posts a video of him to YouTube, which goes viral much like him and the Slate original. Marcel the shod shell short film made in 2010. Soon, Lesley Stahl of 60 minutes knocks on the door, but Marcel must decide if he’s ready to step into the spotlight.
It’s been a while since Fleischer-Camp and Slate first created Marcel, but Fleischer-Camp hasn’t forgotten the humble origins of the beloved little shell.
“Initially, a friend asked me to create a video for his live comedy show. I was of course like, ‘You got it!’ And then, as it was my process, I forgot about it for several months until the night before,” he said.
Enter Jenny Slate, then girlfriend of Dean Fleischer-Camp and now ex-wife, comedian, actress and author known for Parks and recreation, big mouth, obvious child and everything everywhere at once.
“Jenny had started doing this voice. We had shared a hotel room with five of our friends for another friend’s wedding because we were trying to save money, and she started doing this little voice to express how much she felt cramped while we all got ready, and it was hilarious, and we all laughed about it,” he said. “My head is popping out of the pillow two days before this screening – that’s a bit later – and I was like, Oh my God, I have to make a video. Jenny, can I interview you with this voice and I’ll build a little character around it? »
Read also : How Chernobyl: The Lost Tapes The director has found a treasure trove of never-before-seen footage of Chernobyl
With this, Marcel was born. They wrote a few jokes, Slate did a little riffing. All that remained was to create the character who, unbeknownst to them, would soon be immortalized. He found Marcel’s signature shoes in a bodega.
“I rushed out and went to the craft store and bought googly eyes, Sculpey, seashells and two little shoes that I found,” he said. “You know how bodegas really sell as cheap toys? It was like a rip off Polly Pocket set that contained these shoes. ”
But before deciding on a talking shell, he tried out a few other characters, including a cotton ball and a small creature with a boom box for a head.
“I just bought a ton of stuff and pipe cleaners and cotton balls. I did a few other characters that were so obnoxious and grotesque, but the third time around is the charm…none of them were as expressive and beautiful as Marcel turned out,” he said. declared.
Dean Fleischer-Camp worked through the night to animate and edit the first Marcel the shod shell short film, which currently counts more 32 million views on YouTubeand which was later screened at Sundance in 2011.
“It was such a whirlwind. And then, throwing it at the comedy show, I felt this temperature change in the room kind of because I was like, everyone reacts by really investing in this little guys,” he said.
To come full circle, the introduction of Marcel’s grandmother into the story has an interesting coincidence with the original reason why Marcel the Shell went viral in 2010.
“The only reason I uploaded it was because a random person in the audience of that show asked me if I would, because she was like, ‘My grand- mother is sick in bed and I want to share it with her'”, Fleischer- said Camp.
Because of this person’s grandmother, the world fell in love with Marcel the shod shell — aand we never look back.
Marcel the shod shell hits theaters June 24 from A24.
Main image: Marcel the shell and his grandmother, Connie, photographed in Marcel the shod shell courtesy of A24