Over the Christmas weekend, director Sylvain Chomet’s latest film The Illusionist opened in theaters. It’s a an animated feature which he helmed and co-wrote that’s based on an original script from Jacques Tati. The film’s story centers on an aging magician and his friendship with a young Scottish girl. The feature’s almost a modern day silent film, but despite its lack of dialogue Chomet still wanted to bring the long gestating story to the big screen.

Chomet recently spoke with the folks over at The Playlist, and explained how he got his hands on Tati’s unproduced screenplay.

Sylvain Chomet: It’s a really long story. It’s all to do with the script, from Jacques Tati. His daughter, Tati died in 1982 I think, and he wrote the script in the ‘50s and he never managed to do it because basically it’s a story about a magician and he wasn’t really good at doing magic tricks and stuff like that. So he couldn’t really play the role himself, so he didn’t do the script. But his daughter kept it and when asked to get permission to use an extract of “Jour de fête” in “Triplets of Belleville” she obviously saw what we were doing. She saw storyboards and pictures. And she thought that would be a good match, if we could do that [“The Illusionist’] in animation and not to do it in live action. Because she didn’t want someone else to play the role of her dad’s. So that was it. I had a look at the script in 2003, basically, and then we started to look for someone to team up with and production money. So that’s basically it.

The Illusionist made the shortlist of 15 animated films eligible for the Best Animated Feature Oscar at the 2011 Academy Awards. If it earns a spot on the final ballot it will be quite a feat for the director and his creative team considering their film’s journey. As for Chomet’s next project he’s not sure what it will be but he’s got his eye on something in the 3D realm.

Sylvain Chomet: I don’t know yet. I don’t think I’m going to do it in 2D. As I told you, it takes too much time, just really, really long. So it’ll either be a 3D movie or a live action. It depends. There’s a lot of projects going on right now. I’ll have to make a choice at one point, so we’ll see what comes first. But definitely it’ll be 3D or live action.

Hmm, a director who actually has a willingness to work with 3D. That’s new.

Have you seen The Illusionist? Are you familiar with the story?