With his first project after leaving Disney Animation in 2018, director Chris Williams has already received an Oscar nomination. “When I arrived at Netflix Animation, it was certainly a daunting realization that I was a crew of one,” he laughs. He attributes this nomination to his team of animators. “One director does not make a movie, I needed to work with an incredibly talented team to make a movie as ambitious as this, and I was so lucky that so many amazing artists were willing to join me on this journey… I’m just really proud of the crew. They deserve the recognition.”
The Sea Beast was an ambitious project for Williams, in term of scope and technical difficulties. “I wanted to make a pure action adventure story, like the ones that I loved the most growing up,” he says. “We knew we were gonna have these full-throated action scenes, and we were really gonna go for it.” Other than the appeal of seeing giant monsters battling ships, Williams says the emotional story is what kept the audience engaged. “It’s a big movie, with a lot of characters and a lot of story, but it comes down to the central relationship between Jacob and Maisie. And I think the movie really does depend on the incredible performances from Carl Urban and Zaris-Angel Hator, who played those characters. People really invested in their relationship.”
Williams may be excited for the nomination today, but he’s looking forward to what comes next. “I’m working on a couple different possibilities,” he says. “One is a sequel to The Sea Beast that we’re exploring right now, and the other one is an original fantasy story that I’m really excited about.” Both projects are in the early stages, so he can’t say much, but Williams says it wouldn’t be possible without the current scope of animated films. “I’m really appreciative of the time that we’re in right now with animation. There’s just so many great films. You could look at the movies that were nominated and they’re all great films, but you could pick five more amazing films that were not nominated but were worthy this year. It’s just an incredible year for animation.”
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