the lion king set visit

It’s December 7, 2017, and I’m standing in the African savannah. Pride Rock looms in the distance. A single tree stretches toward the sky, which has an almost otherworldly orange hue. A massive rhinoceros suddenly rumbles by, just a few feet to my right. I look around for a while, taking it all in: I’m on the set of Disney’s The Lion King.

But then it’s time to move on, so I remove my virtual reality headset and step back into the real world. I’m standing alongside a few other movie journalists in an unmarked complex in Playa Vista, California, also known as “Silicon Beach.” The offices of tech companies like Google, Facebook, Instagram, and Electronic Arts are close by, and while this particular building looks bland and uninteresting from the outside, one of 2019’s biggest blockbusters is coming together inside. There’s enough space in this single building for an art department, editors, designers, animators, screening rooms, and a virtual reality stage where director Jon Favreau can step into the world of his movie during production. It was Favreau’s idea to renovate this facility in order to have as much of his team as possible under the same roof, upending the traditional filmmaking workflow and opening things up for an unprecedented degree of communication and collaboration.

During our Lion King set visit, we learned about how Favreau utilized virtual reality to make his movie, how his version of the film is different from the animated classic, and tons more. Read on to discover how The Lion King was made. Read More »

Jon Favreau interview

In December 2017, I drove to Playa Vista, California to visit the set of Disney’s The Lion King. Our full set visit report is still under embargo for now, but we are allowed to publish our conversation with director Jon Favreau, who joined our small group of journalists for an extended interview.

Much of the set visit was spent discussing the technical aspects of how the film was coming together, but this talk with Favreau is a bit more personal. He explained why he wanted to make this movie (despite the fact that the animated original “still holds up really, really well”), what speaks to him about this story, crafting the tone of the movie, how different this is from the animated version, this film’s music, and why he cast Donald Glover and Beyonce in the lead roles. Read the highlights of our Jon Favreau interview below. Read More »

Bo Peep in Toy Story 4

Perhaps the most exciting character in Toy Story 4 isn’t a new toy, but one we’ve already met before (and technically not a toy): Bo Peep. Introduced way back in the first Toy Story movie and voiced by Annie Potts, Bo is a porcelain doll attached to a lamp with three sheep. She’s friendly, flirtatious, compassionate, and smart, and she had such a special connection with Woody. We haven’t seen Bo since Toy Story 2, and neither have her old pals Woody and Buzz. But Bo comes back in a big way in Toy Story 4 with a new life and a whole new attitude (and wardrobe).

During a recent visit to the Pixar campus, we learned a lot about Bo’s evolution and the pivotal role she plays in Woody’s journey.

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Far From Home Spider-Man handshake

On the May 8, 2019 episode of /Film Daily, /Film editor in chief Peter Sciretta is joined by senior writer Ben Pearson to discuss visiting the set of Spider-Man: Far From Home and we will play interviews with stars Jon Favreau and Tom Holland.

You can subscribe to /Film Daily on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify and all the popular podcast apps (here is the RSS URL if you need it).

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Tom Holland interview

“There’s a scene in this film where audiences will feel like they’ve been punched in the face,” Tom Holland tells our group of journalists on the London set of Spider-Man: Far From Home. After spending a few hours watching the filming, it’s clear audiences won’t be the only ones who will feel like they’ve been clocked: Holland’s Peter Parker is taking plenty of hits as he teams up with Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio to fight off the villainous Elementals who are wreaking havoc across the globe.

Near the ruins of a bombed out city set, Holland joined us in a tent on the Warner Bros. lot in London and told us about what it feels like to play Spider-Man in more movies than any other actor, the dynamic between Peter and Mysterio, his efforts to not spoil anything for fans, and yes, a scene that’s designed to take the audience’s breath away. Read More »

spider-man far from home set visit

Tom Holland sprints around a Venice street corner, skids to a stop, and turns to shield himself as a blast of water slams into a nearby bridge, blowing it into pieces which whiz past him. Peter Parker is facing off against a villain made of water, and our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man isn’t exactly in familiar territory – the streets of Italy are a far cry from Queens, New York.

It’s August 2018, and I’m on the set of Sony and Marvel Studios’ Spider-Man: Far From Home. The production will be heading to the real Venice shortly, but in the meantime, they’ve rebuilt a massive section of the city above a water tank on the Warner Bros. lot just outside of London where they can safely control stunts like this one, in which the famous Rialto Bridge explodes. Keep reading to discover everything I learned on the set of the new sequel, including the level of involvement for characters like Nick Fury and Maria Hill, the surprising truth about Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio, details about Spidey’s new costume, and much more. Read More »

Toy Story 4 Villain

Sid. Stinky Pete. Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear. Every Toy Story movie needs a villain, and Gabby Gabby is the latest in a line of great baddies. As with her predecessors, the Toy Story 4 villain is a complex character whose motivations are somewhat understandable – even if the way she acts on them is terrible. Voiced by Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks, Gabby Gabby is a vintage baby doll who lives in a huge antiques mall and relies on ventriloquist dummies to do her bidding. Not only is she one of the most exciting new toys, but she just might become the most interesting villain in the series.

During a recent visit to the Pixar campus, we had the opportunity to watch a scene featuring Gabby Gabby and learn all about this intriguing new character.

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Toy Story 4 Set Visit

It’s been almost 10 years since we last saw Woody, Buzz, and the gang. And even though not that much time has elapsed in their animated world, there are still plenty of changes ahead for our favorite characters in Toy Story 4 including new adventures, new crises, and some new villains, too.

We recently had the privilege of visiting the Pixar campus for a sneak peek at the upcoming sequel, which picks up where Toy Story 3 left off: Woody and the toys are living with Bonnie, who is embarking on a harrowing adventure of her own as she begins kindergarten. Just as Woody begins to settle into his life with Bonnie, her family sets off on a road trip vacation, where an encounter with a familiar old pal has the potential to change Woody’s life forever.

Along the way, we’ll be meeting several new faces – some friendly, and others… not so much. Read on for everything you need to know about the new characters in Toy Story 4.

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missing link set visit

Stepping into Laika’s Missing Link set is like stepping into a giant dollhouse or wandering into a miniaturized movie studio. Either way, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. The hybrid animation studio revolutionized the stop-motion game when it debuted its 3D-printed film Coraline in 2009. Since then, the independent stop-motion studio has been steadily innovating with each of its films, earning critical and awards success, and the respect from their peers in the technology fields, along the way.

“Everything we’ve tried a new technology, we’ve essentially had to rip out the engine in our racecar and replace it with something else,” director of rapid prototyping Brian Mclean told a group of visiting journalists at Laika’s studio in Portland, Oregon. “And the reason why we do that is normally, if not always, [we’re] driven by some creative demand.”

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dumbo set visit report

Tim Burton is distracted. He’s in the middle of directing the live-action adaptation of Dumbo, an ambitious, big-budget production that requires balancing fantastical and elaborate sets with even more fantastical visual effects. But I got the feeling that this harried appearance was just part of Burton’s nature — a million thoughts racing at once while he attempts to answer press questions. It’s a surprisingly energetic persona from a man who is famous for donning all black and a dour complexion, but maybe that’s why he always wears the grim color: he can’t be bothered to think about anything else.

“It’s hard for me to talk [about Dumbo] right now because I don’t know if it’s a comedy or a drama,” Burton hurriedly tells us in between takes. “But I’ll let you know when I’m done with it.”

Hearing Burton refer to his Dumbo live-action adaptation as a comedy might be a bit confusing — humor isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks about a Tim Burton movie, or the melancholic 1941 animated movie, either. But there is an unexpected warmth emanating from the Dumbo director and from the lavish, sprawling set around which he paces.

/Film got the chance to visit the set of Dumbo in London along with a group of other journalists, where I was immediately transported back into a storybook version of 1919. Here, a modest barn interior with a dirt floor and pieces of rope sits a couple hundred feet away from an elegant, Art Deco-style apartment decorated with vintage movie posters and marble floors. There, warm pinks and faded yellows adorn the backs of children running through a brightly lit town square.

And there isn’t a Gothic Victorian castle in sight.

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