Walt Dohrn interview: ‘Trolls World Tour’ director

After the success of “Trolls” (2016) and Justin Timberlake’s Oscar-nominated earworm “Can’t Stop the Feeling!”, it was no surprise when DreamWorks announced a sequel — and Walt Dohrn was ready. “You’re always hoping you get to make more because you fall in love with the world and you fall in love with the characters. The team and I started pitching ideas — just in case, we’re ready,” the director tells Gold Derby at our Meet the Experts: Film Animation panel (watch above). “If the world starts embracing these characters in this movie, we’ll have one ready to go.”

And it was Dohrn’s top idea that became “Trolls World Tour,” in which Poppy (voice of Anna Kendrick) and Branch (voice of Timberlake) learn of five other music worlds of trolls and embark on a mission to stop the dastardly hard rockers, led by Barb (voice of Rachel Bloom), from eradicating the other genres, including theirs, pop.

Dohrn, who co-directed the first movie, worked with a musicologist to determine hard rock, funk, country, techno and classical as the other five genres. “We felt like these genres specifically are pretty much represented around the world. Everyone had a version of those six genres more or less. And a lot of the subgenres kind of grew out of these six genres,” Dohrn shares. “It was really about getting a level of authenticity, really talking about the music and how we represented with as much authenticity as possible. That really resulted in using artists from the genre, having George Clinton help with us.”

Clinton was one of the many music stars lending their voices to new characters; others included Kelly Clarkson, Mary J. Blige, Ozzy Osbourne, Anderson .Paak and J Balvin.

Dohrn also wanted that level of authenticity to extend to the designs. Like the first film, the trolls and the new worlds feel tactile and were created with “fiber-based” designs in mind. “The visual language needed to be cohesive across the film, so it’s all fiber-based, but with each genre, what kind of fiber goes there? Ripped denim for hard rock, studs and leather,” he states. “You have to come up with new technology. You have to teach the computer how to sew, basically. We ended up scanning in a lot of the fabrics themselves and using that. And we do have some real practical stuff in the film. All the scrapbooking was handmade by an artist here.”

And yes, he already has ideas for a third film. “We’re always working on ideas because the team and I, we found that it’s infinite possibilities,” Dohrn says. “We’ve been working on these films now for six years and we’ve got a whole bunch more ideas, so if the world wants it, we’re ready to go.”

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UPLOADED Dec 29, 2020 9:27 am