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How Producer Roy Conli's Background In Environmental Documentaries Impacted His Work In Strange World - Exclusive

The latest animated work of Disney magic, "Strange World," is a gorgeously told tale about the Clade family working to save their town Avalonia from a novel but catastrophic crisis. To save their home, the family has to overcome their differences and go farther than any Avalonian has ever gone before. One lesson the Clades learn is that their world as they know it has to change, with the community of Avalonia as a whole faced with the challenge of finding a new and more sustainable way forward. It's a fun, creative, and bold new vision alongside being an intelligent, ecologically-informed film. 

Producer Roy Conli brings a unique marriage of career experiences to the creative "Strange World" landscape. On the one hand, Conli boasts producer credits on a variety of animated Disney features like "Tangled" and "Big Hero 6." On the other, Conli's career also includes a range of credentials in producing well-regarded environmental documentaries, including "Born in China," "Penguins," "Elephant," and more. In an exclusive  interview with Looper, Conli discusses his history with the latter and how that history impacted his work on "Strange World."

Strange World's ecological message really resonated

Conli explains that even before his eventual pivot into environmental documentaries, these sorts of issues have always been on his mind. "I've always been very interested in ecology," Conli explains, "and [in] social responsibility, in terms of how we treat our planet." 

He explains that he was "invited to come down and help pulling 'Born in China' together" after "Big Hero 6" — before he'd started building his documentary experience. Those environmental interests meant that the centrality of the environmental focus in the "Strange World" project interested him from the get-go. It's that very baked-in commitment that helped him decide to board the project. "If anything," he notes, the environmental focus "was [director] Don [Hall]'s conception of this project." 

"When I came to it and he pitched it to me, I was so impressed with where he had gone in terms of wanting to tell a story about what we leave to our next generation," Conli elaborates. In "Strange World," it's a focus that resonated immediately. 

"That's such an incredible and important message right now for the world," Conli notes, "because I think we do have a responsibility to leave this planet in a better state." It's an ethos that permeates the final take-home of "Strange World," and Conli gravitated towards the message specifically because of its potential impact. 

"If we all thought that way, we could actually help the next generation, and they'll help the next generation, and we'll continue on," he notes. "It definitely is something that has always been top of mind in my life," and it was key to his involvement in the new Disney project.

"Strange World" is now available in theaters.