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Don Hall Spurred On The Strange World Team's Creation Process With A Continuous Series Of Dares - Exclusive

"Strange World" is one of the most novel and imaginative of Disney's animated outings in recent memory. Based on the pulp literature tradition, the film follows the adventurous Clade family as a crisis compels them to travel well beyond the boundaries of their community, Avalonia. The Clades find themselves deep in a colorful, complex territory in a strange world full of faceless entities. There are crystal pterodactyls, living predatory balls of tentacles, massive tree-covered dinosaurs who plant new foliage while they walk, and more (but all with inventive names to go with their unique natures).

In an exclusive interview with Looper, writer Qui Nguyen gives us insight into how director Don Hall encouraged the massive "Strange World" team to build a novel and complex ecosystem unlike anything in the Disney canon, all new creations from their imaginations alone. As it turns out, Hall found a way to propel that creativity and outside-the-box thinking by directly challenging their exceptional and exceptionally large team. The end result is an animated Disney outing unlike any we've seen before. 

Challenging Strange World's creatives to be stranger

Qui Nguyen explains that the working process on "Strange World" involved a lot of active encouragement from Don Hall as the various creatives worked on building the film's ecosystem. "It was super fun," Nguyen says. "It was definitely sitting around, listening to Don basically give a lot of dares." Hall would ask them to "dare to be weird," "dare to be strange," and "dare to be stranger," according to Nguyen. "He gave some fun parameters to everybody," he continues. "Taking away faces from all the creatures in 'Strange World' was one of those. [Another was] the color combinations that they played with."

As it turns out, there was a pretty big crew to balance this journey among. As producer Roy Conli notes, "The way [Hall] works with the team is really open. ... It's, 'Bring me your thoughts, and we will craft this together.'" For "Strange World," this process involved a whole army of creators. "When you look at the final images of this film," Conli explains, "it is literally 450 people's idea[s] of this world."

Writer Nguyen notes that the process was an enjoyable one. "It was a joy to watch everyone stretch their minds and go to places that we didn't expect," he explains. What ultimately made such a monumental collaboration process work was Hall's confidence in their talented team. "When we started, we knew what Avalonia was going to look like," Nguyen says, "but we were going to put a lot of trust in literally some of the best artists in the world to figure out what this world down below was going to look like." The end result is one of the most unique narratives Disney has ever put in theaters.

"Strange World" is now available in theaters.