Kelly Ward (I)

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    • Kelly: We've been given great latitude to be challenging with the harder story issues. The whole overriding issue of the circle of life is very present in this series to a degree. It doesn't pull any punches. It would be wrong to deny the series its DNA. It's important to take the baton and carry it forward even though we're sensitive to our young viewers. To do otherwise, I think, wouldn't be an honest product.

    • Kelly: Tonally, it's not really a cartoon. It's hard to convey when a guest actor comes in and isn't in touch with that tonality. If they are from a more cartoony background, sometimes we need to make an adjustment. The show is not unfunny. It's a humorous show, but keeping the tone of the show in balance is another challenge for us.

    • Kelly: But our show is very craftily built. About a third of the way through each episode, there's a song that acts as a kind of palette cleanser for that attention span. It's not done scientifically or with any kind of guile. It's just something we've found to be very successful at keeping the audience engaged.

    • Kelly: It used to be that we'd direct ensemble casts, and sometimes we still do that, but it's become much more rare these days. We tend to direct actors one at a time on a single mic. We'll take their tracks and then gradually assemble the radioplay once we get all the actors recorded. The challenge is to keep those performances in your mind so you can create conversations, so that it really sounds like the characters are talking to one another.

    • Kelly: There are many types of directing in animation. The first director is very legitimately the writer because a lot of what they write becomes translated into visuals by the storyboard artist, who becomes the second director because he's directing the visuals and distilling the visuals into actual pictures. And then my job is to come in and help match and get the essence of the story in the vocal performances, which then inform the storyboard artists as well. It's kind of a lovely ballet of interwoven parts where a knowledge of writing and a knowledge of storyboarding and drawing, a knowledge of editing all really help me do my job and convey to an actor exactly how to nuance their performance. And then the actor, of course, is given great freedom especially in a single mic situation to select and give his performance nuances we might not have thought of.

    • Kelly: We were tireless in our efforts to cast the young actors, the Lion Guard themselves, they are all minor actors, and all of them are exquisitely talented and nuanced.

    • Kelly: I think the greatest challenge here is to remain true to the original, to keep the standard as high as we possibly can. We take that responsibility very seriously.