This is an excerpt from an interview recorded on GAINAX in 2004.
Did you feel any differences of filmmaking between live-action and animation?
Anno: I think all companies film the same way. But in my case, the industry sees me differently. So if I said "I'm going to do an anime (Eva)", I'm sure I would get over $950K right away. But if I said I'm going to do a live action film, I wouldn't be able to get that much money.
But you're filming live action instead of animation. Why is that?
Anno: I'm interested in making live-action films nowadays. Also, while animation is made by creating pictures based on images that exist in the mind, live-action is made with materials that exist in the real world, outside the mind. Of course, I think it's interesting to make fictional images that make the inner world real, which you can only make with animation, but right now I find it more interesting to make live action images that change with the influence of the outside world.
The storyboards are drawn by the director yourself, aren't they? I think the process of recreating the "inside your head" is something that both anime and live action share.
In the case of live-action, when we do not have enough time or when there is a scene with screen projection, I storyboard. But on the set, I try to do it without the storyboard as much as possible. If it is Live-action, we can make it as we try it out on the set including the movements of the actors and the camera.
That's why like in the case of "Shiki-jitsu" or "Gamera 1999", we can visualize the film without a script. Of course, I have some images in my mind, but they don't need to follow all the time.
When and how did you start to have the desire to take live action films?
Anno: I was doing both when I was a student. It was more of a special effects film than a live-action film. I also was making anime with 8 mm film.
However, the animation industry looked strongest at the time, so after I was kicked out from college, I followed that trend and chose the animation industry, and I stopped making live-action films.
But when I was working on The End of Evangelion, I came to the conclusion that it had to be a live-action film. So I talked to Higuchi (Shinji), who works in not only animations but also special effects films. That's when Higuchi introduced me to the live-action staff, and it was great that I got to know producer Amagi. It was all thanks to Shin (Shinji Higuchi). He created an environment for me to work on live-action films.
Well, it all started when I did the live action part of Eva (the live action part in the film "End of Evangelion"). I think the main reason why I keep making live-action films is because it didn't work out at all. In the end, I threw away everything we shot. I think I'm still trying to get revenge for that.
You said "it had to be a live-action film" but why did you have to insert that live-action part into the complete anime world of "Eva"?
Anno: The image I wanted in there was something that I couldn't express with cell animation. I wanted something that felt more like reality, and I thought what's the closest to reality? That would be live action. Originally, the live-action part was supposed to be a drama about voice actors, but when we were shooting it, I felt, "This is not what I want". As a result, we ended up using scenery and footage of the audience in the movie theatre.
I didn't like to see people were overly obsessed in fiction at the time. It was scary, because they were too much addicted to fiction which was created by others. I wanted them to accept their own reality a little bit anyway and have a relative perspective on their own scale.
So I thought as one of the ways to make the viewer aware of their own reality would be to use a mirror. The footage of the audience in the theatre part was the image of a mirror. I used a sort of very dark screen(*1) when I release it on VHS, LD and DVD. If the screen was black, it would reflect your face as you watched it.
*1) Movie theatre with no audience is shown as well
<Original JP site: https://type-r.hatenablog.com/entry/20160811>