‘The Croods: A New Age’ Director Joel Crawford Interview On The Film

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Joel Crawford

Joel Crawford have contributed a lot to animation films, which are a group experience, often made for family and friends alike.

The Croods: A New Age is one such film and The Movie Culture wanted more information about the film so Joel Crawford, it’s Director chipped in to enlighten us.

Joel Crawford is a DreamWorks regular having worked on prominent projects like Kung Fu Panda, Shrek, and many more Animated movies we have come to love.

Q. We’d like to start off this interview by asking you about The Croods: A New Age, could you tell us about how you first got attached to the project as a whole?

Joel Crawford: While I didn’t work on the first Croods, I’ve always been a big fan of the movie because it’s about a very tight-knit family surviving in an unknown world. So, three years ago when Universal bought DreamWorks Animation and decided to move forward with a Croods sequel, I jumped at the opportunity to pick up where the last Croods left off. 

Q. You have an excellent work Profile working for DreamWorks. How must that feel like because to any regular person such as me DreamWorks is a ‘Dream’?

Joel Crawford: The opportunity to not only work at DreamWorks over the last 15 years, but also direct a feature film for them is a dream come true. In fact, when I was 16 years old I submitted a comic-strip I had created to DreamWorks in hopes of getting a job. However, they sent me a very nice rejection letter and encouraged me to apply again in the future. So the opportunity to work at DreamWorks has been a goal of mine for a long time. 

Q. Croods: A New Age is a sequel, and since the first movie did so well, did you have any pressure on taking up the job of Directing the movie?

Joel Crawford: Yes, very much so. In addition to the first Croods is so beloved by fans, this was also my feature directorial debut, so I definitely felt the pressure to get this right. Chris Sanders and Kirk DeMico were very supportive of me picking up the franchise. Chris gave me insights into the characters and notes on the script, which was a wonderful handoff in directing this sequel. 

Q. As I have stated you have worked on a number of animation projects for DreamWorks. What draws you to animation?

Joel Crawford: First of all, I have been drawing since a young age, and always loved telling stories. Animation is a wonderful medium because when creating worlds and characters you are only limited by your imagination. I also love how far you can push character and physical comedy in animation. An example of this would be, in the movie when Dawn gets stung by a bee, her hand swells up to the size of a basketball. This is funny in animation, but might not really translate in live-action. 

Q. Brad Bird is a director who started out in Animation and made a transition to Live Action. Do you wish to do the same?

Joel Crawford: At this point in my career, I am having so much fun creating within the animation medium, that my focus hasn’t been on live-action. However, these days with so much CG and VFX in live action the lines between what is live-action and animation can overlap. What it really comes down to is finding the right way to tell your story. 

Q. There are some amazing actors featured in Croods 2. How was it like working with them? Any crazy Stories from the voice booth?

Joel Crawford: We were overflowing with talent when it came to our voice cast in Croods 2. Not only was the returning cast of Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Cloris Leachman, and Clark Duke amazing to work with, but we added the talents of Peter Dinklage, Leslie Mann, and Kelly Marie Tran. With the entire cast we improvised and joked so much during the recordings that it’s hard to name just one moment. In fact, when we recorded with Emma Stone, we came up with what we called the “Die Hard” action movie line. When Eep says “that’s not my real toe, it’s a peanut,” Emma had to do the line so many times because she couldn’t stop laughing during the takes. 

Q. Rise of the Guardian, Kung Fu Panda, The Lego Movie, Trolls and now Croods. Any favorite amongst your work? 

Joel Crawford: Movies we work on are like children, we say we don’t have favorites, but we do. We’ll just never tell. But in all seriousness, each movie I work on has a different significance to me, depending on the wonderful people I worked with or how I grew as an artist. So one of significance would be the very first movie I storyboarded on, Kung Fu Panda. 

Q. 3D Animation movies are computer generated, could you tell us how you shoot certain things and the technical side of it?

Joel Crawford: The process of creating an animated movie takes a long time because it is done in many different steps. To visualize the movie very quickly, we start with hand-drawn 2D storyboards. We then transition into setting up the cameras in the computer in what’s called layout. From there, the shots go through the production pipeline, which includes Art, Modeling, Surfacing, Animation, FX, Lighting, and many other departments along the way. The wonderful thing about animation is that in order to get a beautiful movie, it requires a lot of collaboration from many people. 

Q. You have been working in the industry for a long time. How has the journey been?

Joel Crawford: Starting as a storyboard artist and then transitioning from Head of Story to directing at DreamWorks, has been a huge educational experience. The great thing about DreamWorks is that you are surrounded by some of the most talented people in the animation industry everyday. I have learned so much from my colleagues and had so much fun along the way.

Q. How did you get into Films? What or Who was the inspiration for you to get into the world of Cinema?

Joel Crawford: Watching comedies with my family growing up in the ‘80s hugely influenced my interest in filmmaking. A big inspiration that pushed me towards animation was the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Q. The Movie Culture is situated in India so we’d like to know whether you have seen any Bollywood films? Or any international content apart from Hollywood?

Joel Crawford: While I haven’t seen a lot, I remember watching and really enjoying this movie called “Enthiran.” It  was such a pushed and fun action movie that it stood out. I am always looking for new experiences in cinema. And the great thing now is that you can find and stream films online much easier than years ago.

Q. Do you have any future projects lined up which you’d like to share with us and your fans ?

Joel Crawford: I don’t have a specific future project as of yet, however, I know the tone will be a character comedy. 

Q. There’s a whole lot of competition in the industry, do you have any piece of advice which you’d like to share with talents reading this interview?

Joel Crawford: While there is more competition than ever in the industry today, there’s also many more opportunities to get your work seen.  Perseverance and hard work can never be replaced. In addition, trust your own voice because that’s what makes you stand out in a competitive landscape. 

The Movie Culture Synopsis

It was definitely a surreal experience to know about the 3D Animation process how directors such as Joel himself make these movies which we come to adore.

It was also important that Joel Crawford came in to Direct The Croods: A New Age and having not directed the first one, how equally important it was to tell a story which feels correct and distinct.

The Croods: A New Age is available on PVOD platforms across the globe.