Kendal Cronkhite interview: ‘Trolls World Tour’ production designer
For Kendal Cronkhite, the toughest world to design for “Trolls World Tour” was, unquestionably, the world of the funk trolls. It took her a long time to come to a specific idea but she ended up finding inspiration in one of the stars of the film. “What got us what that they travel in space, they’re on a spaceship and we based it on George Clinton’s famous Mothership Connection and he had a spaceship on stage. We were super inspired by that and by the concept around that, so that was our kickoff point,” she says in our recent webchat (watch the exclusive video above). Once she got that theme nailed down and combined it with the design aesthetic for the characters, everything started falling into place for the environment. “It was fun because then we could go it’s shag, it’s metallic, their spaceship is covered in sequins, lava lamp technology. We had a blast once we figured it out but it took us a while to get there.”
“Trolls World Tour” is the sequel to the 2016 film, “Trolls.” This installment sees Queen Barb (Rachel Bloom) of the rock tribe attempt to conquer all the different troll kingdoms by stealing the magical strings from each tribe that brings their specific kind of music to life. Queen Poppy (Anna Kendrick), along with Branch (Justin Timberlake), tries to prevent Queen Barb from doing this by bringing all the other troll kingdoms together into realizing that they’re all the same. Along her journey, Poppy comes to realize that while they aren’t all the same, the shared love of music that they all have can be a uniting force even as it highlights their differences.
While funk was the hardest world for her to design, there was another world that Cronkhite described as the one she’s the most proud of. “They were all super interesting and delved into all aspects of culture around music that’s just a beautiful place to be for three years. I think, ultimately, I was happiest with country and the town of Lonesome Flats.” It was one of the first locations that she designed and the quilted landscape and simplicity that it represents worked really well. “They were all super interesting and delved into all aspects of culture around music that’s just a beautiful place to be for three years. I think, ultimately, I was happiest with country and the town of Lonesome Flats.”
Cronkhite’s work in animation goes back almost 30 years. The very first animated project she ever worked on was the 1993 classic, “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” She remembers working as an editorial illustrator at the time and never even considered getting into animation. “My personal work was very suitable to ‘Nightmare’ and I was a punk-rocker, everything was in black and white, I loved Tim Burton—I was obsessed with him at that time—and it was a perfect starting place in this industry.” She worked in an old warehouse in San Francisco where the design team was working upstairs and the sets were all downstairs and she was doing work all over those areas. “I was designing upstairs and I was also down in those sets prepping them for shoots. I was painting on sets, helping setup lighting and hot-gluing everything down before the animator got on there.”