On May 30th, Netflix hosted an in-depth discussion between the creative team of “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance” and the Museum of the Moving Image (MOMI). The creative team included Director and Executive Producer Louis Leterrier, Executive Producer Lisa Henson, Executive Producer Halle Stanford, Co-Executive Producers and Writers Jeffrey Addiss & Will Matthews, and Creature and Costume Designer Brian Froud. They reminisced on behind-the-scenes stories and tales of how they came together, and they also answered questions about expanding the Land of Thra for the series. Throughout the discussion, MOMI used current images from the set and older pictures from the original cast keeping the discussion away from a simple “talking head” format and creating a more engaging discussion.
MOMI sparked the conversation starting with how the members came to join the passionate group of Dark Crystal fans. They spoke of their love for the childhood movie and fascination with how the puppetry and world building were done. Brian spoke on his unique experience also working on the first film with Jim Henson, and writers Jeffrey and Will spoke on the difficulties and advantages faced on the storytelling side. They shared the challenging process of coming up with lore and themes prior to the initial pitch to Netflix to “create a hole” in the story for this prequel to fill.
The team delved deeper into the creative process behind the puppets and set creation, and the importance of small details. With a smile on his face, Director Louis praised the intricate designs of the new gelflings, going as far as having distinct braid styles for different clans. He also admired the push of new and exciting ideas from Brian’s sketches and the massive team behind the costumes and puppetry as they pushed through so much in such a short time. With entire teams dedicated to details like wigs and grass, it was apparent that the whole cast had a deep love for the source material and for bringing this intricately connected world back to life. A Jim Henson project requires a huge love, and this team was eager to prove theirs.
MOMI chimed in asking about any changes between directing and puppeteer styles from the first movie to this series. Brian and Lisa spoke on how the advancement of green screen use had dramatically changed the process since it was much easier for the puppeteers and prop team to be hidden during shooting. Additionally, everything that was able to be done practically was done so. Right down to the detailed sets, grass maintenance, hair styles, and even the type of film used in order to resemble the original movie. Even some of the original puppeteers returned for the series and adjusted to the new style of directing while lending their seasoned experience.
With all the things the team did to mirror the original film, they did also break form in using voice actors rather than the voices of the puppeteers. This change was worthwhile, because the voice actor list for this series is INSANE! Incredibly talented actors such as Mark Hamill, Jason Isaccs, Taron Egerton, Simon Pegg, Benedict Wong, Anya Taylor-Joy, Nathalie Emmanuel, and Keegan-Michael Key all lent their skills and passion to the project.
For the final portion of the event, MOMI directed some fan questions towards the cast, ranging from how much of the lore from the archives was used to what gelfling clan each team member would be. Lisa rounded out the discussion by speaking on how important Dark Crystal was for her father, and how significant it is for her whole family that it is being continued for a brand new audience in a new format. MOMI reassured that despite the ongoing pandemic, the new Dark Crystal exhibit is being worked on to ensure the legacy of this amazing story. I’m eager to see how this new exhibit will inspire fascination for puppeteering and a deeper appreciation for stories and films that have stayed with us since childhood.