Watch exclusive interviews with Best Animated Feature Oscar nominees: ‘Pinocchio,’ ‘Puss in Boots,’ ‘Sea Beast,’ ‘Turning Red’

The final stretch of the 2023 Oscar season has started with voters casting their ballots for the winners of the 95th annual Academy Awards. All season long, Gold Derby has been interviewing dozens of the nominees, including contenders from four of the Best Animated Feature nominees. Click on each creative’s name below to watch each of these 20-minute interviews.

Mark Gustafson and Alexander Bulkley, “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio”

“Pinocchio” is Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro’s adaptation of the classic tale of a father’s wish that brings a wooden boy to life. Gustafson is co-director on the film, and “Pinocchio” is his feature debut as director. He found directing with del Toro amicable because “we had very similar sensibilities, so it was ultimately quite easy. We thought about seams, story and character in very much the same way.” Bulkley is a producer on the film and says of the stop-motion style, “It became the tool of magic that allowed a wonder and awe in its execution.”

Joel Crawford, “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish

In “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish,” Puss (Antonio Banderas) finds out that he’s on his last life and decides to seek out a mystical wish in order to restore his previous lives. Director Crawford enjoyed the absurdity of the idea that this swashbuckling cat had run through eight lives and considered it a perfect fairy tale premise: “When you boil it down, he has one life and we as human beings only have one life. There’s something really deep and special about that opportunity to take the absurdity and put it with the reality.”

Chris Williams, “The Sea Beast

“The Sea Beast” tells the story of the crew of a monster hunting ship as an orphan girl named Maisie (Zaris-Angel Hator) stows away on board as it hunts the legendary Red Bluster. Writer-director Williams details the origins of his idea for the film: “I wanted to really examine this idea of a cycle of aggression and a cycle of violence and how it can perpetuate itself and how difficult it can be to break away from it.” He drew inspiration for the story from some of his favorite action and adventure films from when he was growing up, including the 1976 version of “King Kong,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” and “Star Wars.”

Domee Shi, “Turning Red

“Turning Red” centers on Mei (Rosalie Chiang), a 13-year-old girl who’s trying to balance a burgeoning social life with honoring her parents, specifically her mother. Director Shi discusses what why she felt such affinity toward the main character, sharing, “I was really excited about the opportunity to really showcase and explore the weirdness and specificity of being a teen girl and how everything felt like life or death.” She incorporated aspects of her own teenage years into the film, including her mother following her on the first day of middle school, hiding behind a tree “with sunglasses on,” trying to be incognito.

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