Guy Davis and Curt Enderle interview: ‘Pinocchio’ production designers

“It was an incredible learning experience,” reflects Guy Davis about working on “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio.” For our recent webchat, his fellow production designer Curt Enderle agrees, “It was magical. It was the project of a lifetime.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.

The film retells the classic Italian tale of a wooden puppet who is brought to life. It is directed by two-time Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro (“The Shape of Water”). The film is made with stop-motion animation where wooden puppets were moved and filmed.

The film mixes sharp humor and heart with dark themes. Pinocchio faces a fascist and conman and oppressive priest. Davis explains, “The story itself is timeless and open to so many interpretations over the years. Guillermo made it his own. He didn’t turn it into a tale about a character learning to be good and fall in line. He turned it on its head. It’s about the character teaching everybody else it’s better to not obey.”

Enderele says, “we have all these different worlds, The carnival is more colorful and harsh. There’s the mythical underworld where rules are a little bit broken. And the fascist world which is also very brutalist and angular. Having that differentiation for different worlds, but also holding them together visually was something I was keen to make sure we didn’t lose.”

Davis has had a long working relationship with del Toro, including production design work on “Nightmare Alley” (2021) and “The Shape of Water” (2017). Davis says, “design wise, we treated it the same as a live action film. And we also had the enjoyment of designing the characters. I came pretty much all from live action. It was incredible to see that process of translating Guillermo’s vison to a new medium. One thing I’ve learnt from him is that’s it’s always unique. It’s always outside the box of what you expect.”

Enderle has extensive experience designing for stop motion animation. His work includes “The Boxtrolls” (2014) and “The Isle of Dogs” (2018). Both films earned nominations for the animated feature Oscar. The designer reveals, “Having someone come in from the outside, in a live action way, pushed us to bring our A-game. Guy and Guillermo were able to push us to places that were fresh for stop motion. That’s a credit to working collaboratively.”

He admits sometimes, “I’ve waited four years to figure out if I’ve wasted two and a half years of my life. Often you don’t know until it’s all together. For this one, almost from the first moment that Guillermo sat there and told us the story, we thought this is special. It was going to merit the level of effort we are going to put into it. For me, that’s what made it so great. The material we were dealing with rose to the level of production.”

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UPLOADED Dec 22, 2022 10:30 am