An Interview with Ryan Caroll – By Kirsten Walsh

Ryan Carroll has a list of films that would make your head spin! From the upcoming “Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return” to “Toolbox Murders” (2004), he has proved his worth as a powerhouse producer in Hollywood. With his brother Roland Carroll, the two have obtained the rights for the L. Frank Baum “Oz” series and have plans to revitalize the inspiring tales from over the rainbow! Just as it is exciting to see “The Avengers” in the hands of fanboy Joss Whedon, it is just as awesome to hear Ryan discuss his plans for “Oz”!

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KW: Can you tell me about your stated passion for the Oz series and how your company pursued the rights for the series and brought it to where it is now? 

RC: I have had a fondness to Oz since I was a kid, growing up in Chicago, that’s where the Baum family lived when he wrote “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” they have an “Oz Park” dedicated to the story and I used to walk through it on my way to school every day. When we first discovered the books were available, I wrote a personal letter to Roger Stanton Baum and he was kind enough to allow us to option the stories and start building the franchise from there all in all probably six months or so, and it’s still “sinking in.”

KW: Did either of you play a role in the choice to go animated with this Oz film, as the majority of them in the past have been live action (aside from the cartoon series in the 90’s)?

RC: I knew we would have more freedom with animation. When I was younger I had always wanted to be an artist—I loved animation, Disney was my hero so I always wanted to tell these stories in animation.

KW: In working with the process of an animated film, how does that process differ from working on a live action film as a producer? 

RC: The old saying goes, “if it’s not on the page, it’s not on the stage” and that stands whether its live action or animation, it all starts with the script. Otherwise, it is a very different process indeed. The key difference is with live action you have limited time to capture all your imagery to work with during the principal photography, just keep the camera running and during the editing process to discover magical moments you hadn’t thought of. With animation everything is designed and created; every blade of grass and the characters expressions and have more time to bounce ideas around before you go to the full animation. The difficulty is the long time frame and pipeline to a final product. I love them both, however they’re very different.

KW: The cast for "Legends of Oz" has a top notch cast! How difficult was it to work with the schedules and get everyone involved? 
Everyone was extremely accommodating and a pleasure to work with. We sent the scripts beforehand so they were prepared when they came to the studio. The nice thing about animation is we can record anywhere. If a cast member is in New York, they can go to a recording studio there and we would Skype from a studio here in LA and direct them to do their lines.

KW: How directly were the you and Roland involved with the process of the voice recording and the different stages of animation? 

RC: Most of those things were handled by our wonderful Directors, Will Finn & Dan ST. Pierre and Producer, Bonne Radford. We reviewed every stage of the process, but trusted in them with the details.

KW: Now, this story was written by Roger Baum, L. Frank Baum’s great- grandson, who has continued on with the Oz series. How was it to work with his story?

RC: When I wrote to Roger I shared with him my own enthusiasm of the world of Oz but also how impactful Dorothy was to all my daughters and having a strong positive role model is essential to girls growing up, especially with the other choices they have, it’s important to not to force them to grow-up too fast in our culture today. Roger shares my sentiments and we struck-up a friendship. He is wonderful to work with and I look forward to the next chapter in our ongoing relationship.

KW: That is awesome to hear, and quite enchanting! As far as a release for this film goes, it started at European animation festivals, and is set for a May 9th theatrical release- is that correct? 

RC: Yes- We showed it at Cannes and Annecy. Annecy is so very well respected by the animation community and being the only American Film invited really speaks volumes to the originality and execution of our story.

KW: What productions does your company have lined up next? Do you plan on continuing to work in animation and / or with the Oz series? 

RC: It would take me hours to talk on all the different designs and plans we have! We will never stop bringing new stories, adventures and games to Oz. Beyond the films and TV shows, we want to extend everyone’s experience and make it interactive and personal at home through digital means as with our virtual world (LegendsOfOzWorld.com) and iTunes Apps.

KW: With your vast background, perhaps you could speak on this- What makes a good producer in today’s industry, both in the studio system and in the independent film world? 

RC: Flexibility, you must be able to also be empathetic to all the different talents that make up this wonderful product we create. Not just the acting talents, but the entire crew, from editors, sound, costuming, art direction, writers, Etc. It’s a cooperative art form and their unique talents must be encouraged and supported and you can’t marry any one idea as the overall is greater than an individual piece of the puzzle.

KW: Your company has worked with a variety of films in a variety of genres including horror, but you have recently begun working with family oriented films. What films do you prefer working on, and what has been your favorite project to work on thus far? 

RC:  By far “Legends of Oz” has been my favorite project, however they have all had their challenges and rewards. To be honest though, I love sweeping epics the most. Such as, David Lean films like “Laurence of Arabia”, “Bridge over the River Kwai”, “Doctor Zhivago”, or “Braveheart” & “Gladiator”. With that said I also love Genres. Recently I saw , “Her”, “Saving Mr. Banks” and “The secret life of Walter Mitty”…I love all movies, my list could go into the thousands, but horror would actually be my least favorite!

Thank you so much Ryan, and we will see you over the rainbow!

Check out more about “Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return” http://www.legendsofozmovie.com