This awesome Zootpia Post was part of an all expenses paid trip, but all fan girling is my own. (Affiliate Links May be Included)
On my latest adventures to Los Angeles, we had a chance to sit down and chat with the Zootopia Directors and Producer: Byron Howard, Rich Clark, and Clark Spencer. These chats are always some of my favorites because we get to hear first hand the story behind the story; what it takes to make a movie like Zootopia, and how a project can start at one place and end up in an entirely different place once it hits the big screen!
They were all really friendly and seemingly excited to share with us the inspiration and love that went into making Zootopia. We had some really great questions to dig a little deeper for you guys, so you can hear about what it took as well!
Interview with Zootopia Directors and Producer: Bryon Howard, Rich Clark, and Clark Spencer
Question: Was there any initial idea that inspired you to want to do this movie?
BYRON HOWARD: You know, the bias thing came very organically from a period of research that we did and stuff. We really thought about the subjects that we’re talking about, and we really dive in and try to become experts on the subject of bias. I know a lot about hair, because of Tangled. I learned more about hair on that movie than I thought I would know.
For this movie, we knew we had to find out about animals, and we did an amazing research trip where we went to Kenya with our leadership in the film, including our Heads of Animation, our Art Directors, our Heads of Look and Lighting, and we all went there and they sent us way out into the middle of the wilderness on these tiny little planes. We actually flew over Pride Rock. We looked out the window and we could see a little spire of rock, and the guide was like that’s Pride Rock, because the Lion King team had come on the same type of tour 20, 25 years ago when that film was being made, and that’s why that rock is in the movie is because they actually saw it in the wilderness.
Q : I’d like to know what each of your favorite scenes are in the movie.
RICH MOORE : Let’s see. Well, God that’s like which child do you like better? I would say I love the scene with Nick and Judy in the gondola. That’s where they start to bond. I like it not just for the scene itself, but it takes me back and, and I remember they day we recorded it with Jason Bateman.
We know that Jason’s comedian first and foremost, and he is very good with comedy. And here was this scene where Nick is kind of dropping his guard and sharing, this very painful moment from his past with Judy when he was a junior ranger scout.
Just the full committal that Jason gave to the scene because it’s probably the most serious scene with Nick in it except for maybe the breakup. This was the first one that we recorded with Jason, and taking us to that moment and becoming very vulnerable.
CLARK: You gonna take my scene?
BYRON HOWARD : Is your scene under, under the bridge?
BYRON HOWARD: Similar to Rich, there’s so many comic things that I love in a movie that are beautifully executed, and I really admire are story artists and animators in the voice talent for, they know this will make us laugh. There’s the scene were Judy actually goes to Nick and apologizes, under the bridge, I think is so incredible for so many reasons. Number one is that Phil and Jared are writers who did such a great job of crafting that scene.
Also working with Jen , who was in the room with us, and that was something that we all kind of looked at together to make sure that we’re saying just the right thing, ’cause it talking about such a tricky subject, but then Jennifer came in and delivered this incredible genuine performance where when you ask an actor or an actress to cry you never what you’re gonna get, because some people are very skilled at that and very natural. And Jennifer found something in herself, like Rich was saying with Jason, where she was really in touch with the emotion that was going on. And she was kind of balling with that.
RICH MOORE : That was like a really another great memory of recording up in Vancouver, and it was in this studio that has a room just like this one, where the walls are all black, and it’s this kind of indirect lighting. It was really moody in this little recording booth and I can just see it like it was yesterday. She really again just kind of broke down. I mean she was sobbing. We had so many great takes o choose from because she’s just full committal to the moment.
BYRON HOWARD : When we got that take we loved it. When you give that take to an animator, you’re hoping for the best. We asked Kira Watamaki, who’s our lead animator on Zootopia to do that scene. She took that scene away, and she came back after a week, and she showed Rich and myself in dailies the rough pass on it. And it’s almost exactly what you see in the movie.
CLARK SPENCER: I’m going to go to the most obvious one, the Flash scene, and here’s why!
RICH MOORE : You don’t have to qualify it. We all agree.
CLARK SPENCER: It was pitched as an idea, and it just seems so ripe in that exact moment when Jim Reardon, one of our heads of story pitched it out there, and you could start to see, as a producer, you get to watch the team, you get to watch them start building this idea. You get to watch in one day this little tiny nugget of an idea become an entire scene, and you get to see everyone laugh and then you get to see it get pitched to John Lassiter and you can start to see oh it looks like there’s something there. And then you see it going to the animator’s hands and you see what they end up doing to it. And you really get to watch this thing become a breathing thing.
Then I had the most amazing experience which is a few month before the movie comes out, while the film being finished up, the producer goes to other parts of the world to start sharing the film with people, part of the film, not the whole movie. I was on this tour over in Europe we went to eight cities. We’re playing this scene in different languages; we’re in Russia, we’re in Italy, we’re in Spain, we’re in Germany, and I get to watch these audiences all responding in exactly the same way in their own language.
It was amazing to watch and feel that sense of people just falling in love with the character Flash and totally relating to this scene in such an incredible way.
Having already seen Zootopia twice myself, I was really stoked to chat with the Zootopia directors and producer! They were funny, entertaining, and inspiring. You can tell they really love what they do, and they wanted to make sure they not only got the animals right, but covered a hard topic like bias right as well.
If you haven’t seen Zootopia yet, you are missing out. It comes to DVD and Blu-Ray on June 7th. You can pre-order Zootopia here. Trust me it’s worth EVERY penny. Even my teens loved it.
If you want to learn more about the Zootopia Directors and Producer, plus more goodies about Zootopia make sure to check out all my other Zootopia posts coming soon, including an exclusive Interview with FLASH!
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