Strange World Writer Details Differences Between Writing for Animation and Live-Action

Strange World is the upcoming film from Walt Disney Animation Studios that will reunite Raya and the Last Dragon's writing and directing team, Don Hall and Qui Nguyen. recently had the chance to chat with the duo, and Nguyen explained how it was different from working on Raya and how Strange World is very much "a personal story for Don." In addition to writing animated features, Nguyen has also written for live-action projects, including Netflix's The Society and SyFy's Incorporated. During his chat with, Nguyen talked about writing for different mediums. 

"Well, I think the difference between writing scripts, say live-action, usually ... you're going to the studio, you're pitching and they're like, 'Yeah, make that movie.' You write it, then the director comes after the fact. In animation, the impulse came from Don, Don brought me in. And so, then I'm writing. I would say writing a script in any other format, including TV, I'm not really writing the script that's perfect. I'm going to sell and present to Don and go, 'Don, could you approve of this.' I'm basically writing sequences that, I have to admit I kind of rough in, because I know there's also an incredible team of story artists that I get to collaborate with, so I just get the basic idea."

Nguyen added. "I work with them. I thumbnail my scene, they get a whack at it. They pitch even some of their own lines in there, then I get it back and then I zhoosh it, so it all sounds like one story. It's a much more back-and-forth, much more collaborative process than just writing the script, giving in, and executing on the script. It is literally working with Don, working with the story artist, then animators all the way through, and then with Jake [Gyllenhaal] and Lucy [Liu] and our actors in the room, they're also improving in the booth, so it's a much more fluid, collaborative process than simply writing it and animate."

"Yeah. There's no finished script until now," Hall added. "The movie's done. There's a finished script. After that point, everything is, like we said, it's just very malleable. It's very collaborative and we're bouncing stuff back and forth and that's when it works the best. I think to his credit [Nguyen] was able to, even though his background is in other types of writing, including playwriting, to come in here and fully embrace the process and the process fully embraced him in such a beautiful way. Even from, it was years ago, working with the story team early on, but it was very evident that we all kind of had a hive mind of what this story is. Not that it was prescriptive in any way, but we all kind of knew what we were going for and so everything, it just felt, it was just a really, truly magical collaboration."

Strange World opens in theaters on November 23rd. Stay tuned for more from our interviews with the creators behind Strange World