Interview with Jeff Kinney, author of Diario di una Schiappa

Interview with Jeff Kinney, author of Diario di una Schiappa

Interview with Jeff Kinney

On the occasion of the release on Disney Plus of Diario di una Schiappa, an animated reboot inspired by the homonymous series of children's books, we had the opportunity to meet the creator of the series and screenwriter of the film, Jeff Kinney. In our interview with Jeff Kinney we spanned the animation style of the new film, the themes of A Schiappa's Diary and the genesis of the series and the future developments of the franchise.

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Interview with Jeff Kinney, author of Diary of a Schiappa

Mr Kinney, there is a new Diary of a Schiappa in town and it is a film of animation: what are the differences with previous versions and incarnations of the franchise, obviously excluding the animated form?

What is really exciting about this movie is that it really is the book that comes to life. In the live action film, which I think is hilarious, you still have to make this jump as a spectator because you see Greg and he has only these three hairs on his head, then you see him on the screen and he is a human being in flesh and blood with a lot of hair. Here you don't have to take that leap and you can really say that this is Greg's world.

In the press releases there was a statement saying that this film is truly the ultimate Wimpy World Experience: how important it was to find an animation style and character design that came as close as possible to those of the book?

It was very important but it was also very difficult. We made several tests and discarded several versions that did not convince us and seemed out of place. We have filed, filed, filed, and now we have something that is truly authentic compared to the books. I think the style is a bit strange for those used to a certain type of animation but the feedback we got from people who saw it confirmed that it is what they expected.

What were your influences, your influences as a draftsman, when you started writing and drawing the Diario di una Schiappa series? Obviously I track a lot of Shulz and the Peanuts, but is there something else?

Yes, I would say that Shulz is certainly one of mine, also because he influenced everyone who came after him. Mort Walker was a prominent cartoonist here in the United States for his solid lines and use of white space; Matt Groening who became famous for The Simpsons but previously made a series called Life in Hell and Gary Larson with The Far Side. These were the authors who most influenced me.

The first book, on which this film is based, was released in 2007: how unusual was it to rewrite it, after more than ten years, to write the screenplay for the film?

It was truly a privilege to be able to go back to the first book and in a sense rewrite it. When I wrote the first book I had just started being a writer and I was 28, now I am 50. I have learned a lot of things about writing, about how to tell the story you want to tell especially in the cinema. I have improved and it is fortunate to be able to get back to one of your first works. I think this is really the definitive version of the first book.

Retrieve our review of Diary of a Schiappa Did she change something or would she change something going back in time?

Yes, it was great to have been able to tell a less humoral and more sophisticated story, even more punctual.

Do you think that the change between elementary and middle school is still important today, for today's kids?

Yes, there is this big step that kids take from elementary school to middle school, I don't know what the equivalent is in Italy ... It's a big step because people change physically and socially . There is a lot of pressure on kids starting middle school and it's not easy. This is the reason why I wanted to set these stories in middle school, I wanted the kids to also see the irony of the situation.

Il Diario di una Schiappa is a series of books on personal growth. Greg is an atypical protagonist: he's not good, but he's not bad either. The situations he experiences are grotesque. Was it difficult to animate such a character, not the classic protagonist?

I think what differentiates Greg from the classic protagonists of children's literature is the fact that usually the protagonists are heroic and in a sense serve as inspiration. And Greg is not a source of inspiration, he is a chaotic character and has not yet fully formed as a person. Most of the time, in the books, the comedy comes from understanding these characteristics of him and the fact that there is a lot of room for growth. As an author this is a challenge because Greg is a comic and there is no big room for growth and he can't change drastically. These characters cannot transform, but the film allows us to have a greater margin in this sense because it has to be growth in order to tell a good story. I think in animated films we will have more marked growth than Greg.

So are there any plans for sequels?

Yes, we are already working on The Law of the Greats which is the second book in the series. I really hope we can make many, many films from these stories.

He has written more than a dozen books of Diary of a Schiappa: what is his favorite book and what is, besides Greg, his favorite character and which character would you like to see animated in the next sequel?

My favorite book remains the first but I also really like the latest one, the 16th, which here in the United States is called Big Shot. I think it is the story I have told best. While my favorite character will always be Rowley because he is a good friend, a sincere and in a certain sense incorruptible boy. Honestly, I would like to see them all transposed to the big screen: each book contains something exciting and memorable. I really hope there will be a movie made for every book.

The Wimpy World is developed in over a dozen books published in Italy by Il Castoro, recovered the first book on Amazon

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