By Megan Anderle, Editor and Contributing Writer
With an army of 200 visual effects artists, it took Oscar-winning director Robert Stromberg eight days to shoot the whimsical and aesthetic four-part series “What Lives Inside,” a social film that engages audiences in a unique way.
“Don’t tell other people in Hollywood this is possible!” he joked on March 14 during the South by Southwest premiere of the film at the Dell Lounge in Austin. “We had 30-plus set ups a day with technical cranes, steady cameras and multiple sets all working at once.”
Sponsored by Dell and Intel, “What Lives Inside” stars Oscar-winner J.K. Simmons, Colin Hanks IMDB, and Catherine O’Hara IMDB and features a soundtrack by James Newton Howard and premieres March 25 on Hulu.
“What Lives Inside” is the fourth installment of Intel’s “Inside Films” series that began in 2011 with “Inside,” starring Emmy Rossum and directed by D.J. Caruso. “Beauty Inside,” starring Topher Grace, came out in 2012, and “The Power Inside,” starring Harvey Keitel, was released in 2013. Each film has a social component like “What Lives Inside.”
The Hulu series will be shown in four weekly installments starting March 25. The full series will be available on WhatLivesInside.com and YouTube on May 6. Take a behind the scenes look at “What Lives Inside” through the eyes and words of the Hollywood team that pulled it together, with creative contributions from fans.
‘No rule book’
Simmons plays the absentee father of Taylor (Hanks) who dies. A famous children’s puppeteer, the father had make-believe monsters all over the house that Taylor discovers, which takes Taylor on a wild journey that inspires his own creativity. The series features 16 minutes of stunning visual effects and 32 minutes of music, but what makes it truly special is that fans’ artwork is featured throughout the film.
From Jan. 13 to March 9, more than 6,000 fans submitted sketches, and so far 144 of them have been incorporated. But production is still in motion, so the series will add many more, according to Billie Goldman, partner marketing manager at Intel.
“We gave them no rule book for the sketches. Their submissions came from anything that inspired them,” Stromberg said. “I’ve been drawing since I was a little kid, and if I had this opportunity it would have been fantastic.”
“Taylor needs the device to get him out of certain situations, so it was the utility of the tablet that helps him find his inner creativity,” Stromberg said.
Taking inspiration from family
The storyline was inspired by Stromberg’s life and his desire to inspire his son to express himself creatively. Stromberg’s father, William Stromberg, was a filmmaker who got his start making children’s movies with puppet monsters in his garage.
“He inspired me to make my own films, and I want to inspire my son creatively in the same way,” said Stromberg, who won Oscars for art direction for “Alice in Wonderland” and “Avatar.”
Making “What Lives Inside” was an outlet for the director.
“Here I am traveling world and creating art, and sometimes you lose connection with your family,” he said. “Doing this project was helpful to me in my personal life, and working with Dell and Intel has been such a pleasure.”