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Jeffrey DeGrandis on the making of Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz

Released way back in 1939, ‘The Wizard of Oz’ is a cinematic legend. Pogo launched an animated version, ‘Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz’, on July 29, 2017, which has found great traction with kids. 

In an email interaction with Adgully, Jeffrey DeGrandis, producer of ‘Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz’, speaks about the making of the show, the transition from a classic film to an animated show, designing the characters for the show, the role of music and much more. Excerpts: 

How does the beloved classic film, ‘The Wizard of Oz’, compare to the animated show, ‘Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz’, on Pogo?
All the material that we have used to make ‘Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz’ is based on the L. Frank Baum novels – there are 14 of them – along with the 1939 motion picture film, ‘The Wizard of Oz’. Parents and kids who have watched the film and read the books recognise elements from both within the show. 

We wanted to bring L. Frank Baum’s novels to life with this show and introduce new characters, new villains and new lands that he wrote about in his book to our audiences. We’re really proud to say that this show offers audiences the full Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz experience! 

Why did you want to bring back such a beloved franchise?
‘The Wizard of Oz’ is one of my favourite movies of all time; it is a wonderful comedy with some great action moments. I was excited to be a part of such an iconic worldwide franchise; how could you not want to work on ‘Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz’? 

What were some of your considerations when designing the characters for this animated show?
We looked at the main characters you remember from the classic film and we examined their prominent features that distinguish their looks. So, for Dorothy for example, it’s the gingham dress, the pigtails, her dog Toto, the ruby slippers and the white socks. We then stylised these for the animation so when you look at the character she is instantly recognisable as Dorothy. 

How are you connecting with new audiences watching the show for the very first time?
The show features great all-new adventures for Dorothy and her friends and we think that viewers will connect with the animation and feel like they are going on a journey with them. The characters all have so much personality and they’re relatable; so, audiences will want to be a part of their world and root for them to succeed on their quests. 

What’s your favourite part about working on ‘Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz’?
I love how this show makes you think outside the box when you’re planning an episode. In Oz, things are never normal, so you imagine everyday props – like a chair, for example – when you place it in Oz you need to think how to make it extraordinary. Everything is magical and special and I enjoy bringing these elements to life and telling a story. 

Who’s your favourite character in the show?
That’s a hard one! I really like the Wicked Witch of the West; she is a fun character to look at and she comes out with some funny lines now and then too! 

Do you have a message for audiences watching ‘Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz’?
When you watch the show and you think – “okay this is as far as the show can go” – it isn’t! Each episode is more exciting than the last with unexpected twists and turns that we think audiences will enjoy. 

Can you talk a little bit about the music in the show?
The music in the show is so well done; it’s some of the finest music I’ve ever used in my career so far. If you think of your favourite songs from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ film, such as “We’re off to see the Wizard…” or “We Welcome you to Munchkin Land” or the Wicked Witch theme tune – we use the melody from these classic songs and we string it together and put it into the show. The music really helps bring the show together to give audiences the full ‘Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz’ experience.

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