Don Hall interview: ‘Strange World’ director

For “Strange World” director, Don Hall, creating the film’s incredible realms was definitely a challenge but one he saw as a beautiful challenge. “We did a lot of research into different biomes and living systems. Ultimately, what I really wanted is just to kind of create a blank space,” he tells Gold Derby during our recent Meet the Experts: Film Animation panel (watch the exclusive video interview above).

He brought the blank canvas to the animators over at Disney and they let their imaginations go wild. “I was just sort of the cheerleader, you know, ushering them to go weirder, go stranger and just embrace the limits of their creativity, which was boundless. It led to a really unique, specific and beautiful world.”

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“Strange World,” which is currently in theaters, focuses on the Clade family which is made up of legendary explorers. Searcher Clade (Jake Gyllenhaal) doesn’t have the same bravery as the rest of his family but is forced to develop it as he joins the family in exploring the uncharted land of Avalonia. The film also stars Dennis Quaid, Gabrielle Union, Lucy Liu, Alan Tudyk and Jaboukie Young-White. Hall has been a part of Disney’s animated films for years and even picked up an Oscar for Best Animated Feature in 2014 for “Big Hero 6” as well as another nomination last year for “Raya and the Last Dragon.”

Assembling the cast for the film was a huge task for the casting director, Jamie Roberts. It came together after Qui Nguyen, the writer and co-director of the film, wrote a treatment for the movie. “Jamie read that and gave us a list with these exact actors on it. I think we were like, uh, yeah, this would be amazing because we’re fans of all of them.” Hall does wish that there had been an opportunity for the entire cast to work together but it wasn’t possible due to the nature of their schedules. He does hope that he can do something like that for his next project. “Someday I would like to do that where you could just carve out some time for everybody to be together and kind of workshop it as a group and build it from there. I’m looking forward to that someday.”

An aspect of doing this film that Hall particularly enjoyed was getting to go back and reread some of his favorite science fiction and pulp magazines that helped inspire the look and feel of the film. Among the science fiction pieces he revisited were “Journey to the Center of the Earth” by Jules Verne, “The Lost World” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and “The Land That Time Forgot” by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The pulp magazine material were key to the development of Jaeger Clay. “Taking that archetype of that hyper-masculine adventurer that seems to always be in conflict with nature and getting to deconstruct that a little bit and look at it from him as the father of the main character, that was really fun to examine.”

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UPLOADED Nov 28, 2022 8:37 am