The Director and His Vision
To find the perfect director to bring the production to life, Roth reached out
to Robert Stromberg. "A film like this
generally takes about six or seven months to prepare correctly because it's a
giant visual production," informs
Roth. "So, I had been working with Rob Stromberg, who won the Oscar for
'Avatar' as production designer, and
won the Oscar for 'Alice in Wonderland' as designer as well, and had just
finished 'Oz The Great and Powerful'
for me. It was very clear to me that he was born to be a director, and he really
wanted to be a director."
"When Disney came to me with this project, I'd already done several big visual
types of movies and I'd learned
that audiences make decisions about going to movies long before they know what
the movie's about," continues
Roth. "They get a vibe off some visual presentation that happens earlier than
anything else. So, I thought,
Angelina's an experienced actress, Robert is going to be a great director, and
if he can provide the distinct visual
style he brought to 'Avatar,' 'Alice in Wonderland' and 'Oz The Great and
Powerful,' I think it's a good marriage."
Bringing Maleficent to the screen as a live-action character is a responsibility
that Roth took very seriously
when choosing his director. "Maleficent is a really important character; a
character that if we do our job right in
the film, that not only her character but Sleeping Beauty's character as well,
and some of the fairies and great
creatures that Rob Stromberg has created will be seen for years and years and
years in parks and in stores.
Maleficent is a very, very important character in the Disney life."
Stromberg was undaunted by the challenges of a big-name actress and a big budget
in his directorial debut. "I
started as an artist-from doing pencil drawings as a kid to doing matte
paintings to art directing and production
designing," says the director. "I think, as an artist, you're always looking for
the biggest canvas you can find and
this was yet another big canvas to conquer. I thought it was intriguing to take
on something that was bigger than
anything I had already done. And this came at the right time when I was looking
for the next challenge in my
The director came to the production with a clear idea of
how the film should be visually presented. "What I wanted
on this film was not only to have an element of fantasy and
a surreal quality but I wanted Maleficent to be a bit more
grounded in reality," relates Stromberg. "In some of my
previous films, I've taken the surreal elements and made
them the strongest points. In 'Maleficent' we've taken the
opposite approach: we started with real and augmented
after the fact. So I think it's a new look."
Stromberg began his process of bringing "Maleficent" to life by doing extensive
research. "I always like to look
at a lot of reference material on a subject," states Stromberg. "In this case, I
looked at a lot of classic paintings,
particularly by artists in the 17th and 18th centuries. A big influence were the
Hudson River School artists who
went out and painted landscapes but heightened them a bit. So that became
interesting to me-to create this
classic look that is mostly based in realism and see where we could push that.
It's actually turned out to be
something that's quite elegant and beautiful yet never loses the sense that
there's fantasy involved."
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