I grew up in a house where C-3PO and Optimus Prime were often staged for battle behind a Lego fortress, waiting to take on the villains controlled by my older brother, Justin Richmond. Worlds were created and destroyed on the daily—his toys acting out the stories swirling in his head. These days, Justin’s stories come to life in his Emmy Award-winning show The Dragon Prince.
Recently, Justin joined us from Topanga, California for our latest installment of Elevating Stories—a series where 2A hosts professional storytellers of all sorts. He shared insights about the creative process in his roles as a video game animator and co-founder and executive producer at media studio Wonderstorm. After spending some remote time with him, here are three techniques we learned to bring a little Wonderstorm magic to our team:
1. Embrace failure
At the retreat to kick off each eight-show season, every writer shows up ready to pitch 40 ideas for the season’s storyline. Thirty-nine (or more!) may be thrown out, but the sheer volume of concepts leads to new character and plot ideas that never would have surfaced if writers came tethered to just a handful of gems.
2. Terrific writing takes revs
Each season of The Dragon Prince goes through six revisions—from premise to record draft—before ever getting into the hands of the animators, actors, and sound team. Parts of the script may make it through four drafts before being cut. Would the plotline hold up after two or three drafts? Probably. But the extra time and care spent on each scene is what gives the story its depth and transforms viewers into fans.
3. Diversity is fabric, not decoration
Wonderstorm intentionally brings a diverse team of creatives to the table to build a diverse world of characters on screen. From the deaf female army general who communicates using American Sign Language, to the non-binary Sunfire Elf, to the multi-racial royal children, the team makes diversity prevalent—and not the focus. By normalizing so many ways of being, they invite viewers to both see themselves and accept what they may not be familiar with.
I am proud of the work Justin and the team at Wonderstorm do to bring fun and adventure into so many people’s lives. And I don’t know about you, but I could use a little Dragon Prince family time tonight.