Travel consideration provided by Warner Bros. Pictures.
We’ve all heard the legend of a stork delivering babies. And in the upcoming animated film Storks, we finally learn the backstory of these special birds – and find out what happens after they stop delivering babies, and start transporting overnight packages instead:
This family comedy has an all-star cast, with voice talent ranging from Andy Samberg and Kelsey Grammer to Key and Peele and Jennifer Aniston. Last month, I flew to Los Angeles – not on a stork, unfortunately! – to attend a special Storks press event and meet the film’s creators: Writer/director Nicholas Stoller, director Doug Sweetland, and producer Brad Lewis. The filmmakers had an unusual approach for an animated feature, taking advantage of the comedic talents of the cast by encouraging group recording sessions and improvisation. During our chat, I asked how this tactic had influenced the final product.
Beeb Ashcroft: I know that improvisation was a big factor on this film – could you speak about the process and how that’s a little bit unusual for a film like this?
Nicholas Stoller: Yes, in my live action movies that I’ve done [Neighbors, Forgetting Sarah Marshall], I always do improv. I do it to get jokes and stuff like that, but I also do it to kind of create natural performances.
It’s almost more important in the emotional scenes to do improv because it keeps actors a little bit off their game and it makes those scenes more awkward and real, which then makes them more emotional. And I really wanted to bring that into animation, and Brad and Doug were game for that.
And so, very early on we cast scratch actors that were comedic talent – you know, improv people, and improv’ed the scenes. And actually, Katie Crown [the voice to Tulip] was originally a scratch actor for the movie. She was so good we ended up casting her in the film.
Brad Lewis: I mean, one of the hardest things about animation is to get a spontaneous vocal performance, because everything’s done in isolation because everybody wants perfect sound every step along the way.
So, Nick worked in this way. It’s jazz for Nick. He comes in and he knows what the scene’s about. And the actors are great and they know their characters, and then they build it. And one scene that might be two minutes is, like, three or four hours of material that gets sifted through.
Doug Sweetland: Yes. Yes.
Nicholas Stoller: It’s sad, you have to cut out a lot of things.