I had the good fortune to sit down and talk to producer Roy Conli after I watched his new DisneyNature film “Born in China.” I learned a lot from talking with Mr. Conli, his personal experience and the film itself. Now, If his name sounds familiar he is a Disney staple, producing several animated films such as “Big Hero 6”, “Tangled” and “Treasure Planet.”
This is the first live-action film Conli has been a part of, let alone produced. After all these years of animation he was approached from the DisneyNature team about getting on board with this documentary. When he found out Chuan Lu was directing and watched his work, he was totally onboard.
Telling the story on a different angle was a challenge. Usually going into an animated, or scripted film, there is a final image to end the film on, but that’s not what happens on a DisneyNature film. There’s hours of footage and journals upon journals of what happened on a daily basis that the cinematographers write down, you don’t know how it will end.
There were more subjects then that ended up in the final film. Some of the subjects even changed, in fact the storyline of Tao Tao was supposed to focus on the mother and the little sister, but as filming went on Paul Stewart (cinematographer) became enchanted with the brother Tao Tao because he was much more fascinated. The universal relationship with brother and sister is nature and it’s so relatable.
Although Conli plans on going back to animated features, he won’t give up on DisneyNature films. He is so proud that Disney uses these films as a means to helping the wildlife community. Over the last 7 films Disney has helped support chimpanzee reserves, they were able to preserve 65 thousand acres of land for big cats in Kenya, 3 million trees planted in the Brazilian rain forest and 40 thousand acres of marine habitat in the Bahamas. If you didn’t know, the first week “Made in China” is in the theaters Disney will donate a portion of the proceeds to the World Wildlife Fund.
It was an absolute pleasure to meet Roy Conli and get to learn more about him and ”Born in China.” Please go out and see it in the theater as soon as you can. It opened on Earth Day, so go support some nature and learn!