Angran Li is the production designer behind the Disney Launchpad short, The Little Prince(ss). In an exclusive interview, we dive deeper behind one of her favorite scenes, as well as her interest and specialization in virtual production.
PH: Which scene was your favorite to work on in The Little Prince(ss)?
Angran Li: The living room scene when Gabriel sits on the living room couch and watches Mulan as Rob’s father enters the door was my favorite moment of The Little Prince(ss).
PH: Describe this scene and the significance it has to the rest of the short film.
Angran Li: I had a lot of conversations with Moxie (the director) and the producers about why we need to have the Mulan cartoon playing on TV during the scene. People may not notice with the camera pan, but to me, it’s a quick moment to show how different it is between the world of Gabriel and the world of adults such as Gabriel’s parents and others. The way those two worlds interact with each other, while the perspectives in each scene are very individualistic.
PH: What tools, plugins, or instruments did you use in your production of this scene?
Angran Li: I used Rhino3D and Sketchup to block all locations and environments for all the Tech scouts. That way my director and DP were able to dress each location with existing furnishing and a set dec change look for the shoot. Because of the amount of time I had and the time limits with each location, I didn’t have enough time to go back to each spot more than 2 times. It was super time-restricted with everyone understanding how I’m going to change or design around each space with Covid restrictions as well. And with Set Dec, I provided very detailed dressing boards to the team for each location, so with this much turnaround, I split my team into 3 groups, maybe 4 on a couple of days of the shoot.
PH: What technical challenges did you encounter while working on this scene?
Angran Li: I think by that time, it is the covid restrictions of how much time Art Dep/Set Dec have with turnarounds. We need to wait after Health and Safety checks out each space on the call. Also, it was really hard to find the apartment that I, the director, DP all agree with at that time, and it also needs to get approved by safety. I remember there were restrictions with how many times company moves are allowed with the entire shoot as well so we scouted every single house on the same street, within the 3 areas we got approved to shoot. I was on a speed to laser measure every single house when we first walked in, cause we don’t know if we can come back again 2 days before shooting, and to me, that’s just too late to prepare everything. With all the limitations we had back then, we were lucky with enough pictures taken, and I was able to roughly block out 3D models for all the options we liked, so we had time to chat about each location instead of going back and forth with huge groups.
PH: What was the dialogue like between you and The Little Prince(ss)’s director or showrunner regarding this scene?
Angran Li: As I addressed in earlier questions, I think it was the Mulan cartoon. With the footage we want to show, the limits of on-screen time make it worth the process to purchase the footage and buy the license to show what’s playing on the TV. We talked about budget, screen time, story purpose, environment, importance, etc. In the end, Moxie and I were both just tired, Moxie fought hard to get the footage of Mulan, and I’m really glad I supported him on it. It was quite a pitch.
More about Angran Li
Angran Li (born 1993) is a Chinese Production Designer and Art Director who is best known for her work Kneeling Sheep(2019), The Way Home(2019), How to Live Your Life Correctly(2018). She recently worked on the Walt Disney Studios’ new streaming project-The Little Prince(ss)(2020) as a Production Designer.
Since 2018, all of the films she has worked on as Production Designer have gone to various worldwide film festivals such as BAFTA, Woodstock Film Festival, Shanghai International Film Festival, Bermuda International Film Festival, and were awarded.
She has worked in both China and the United States and holds an Interior Design BFA degree from Parsons the New School for Design in New York. She worked in New York Fashion Week (2016), was a prop assistant in Jerard Studio, also assisted Scenic Designer Donyale Werle for New York Broadway Musical George Takei’s Allegiance. She assisted for the Met Gala at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2015 and worked for the International Concert’s Art Director at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. She founded her own design studio-Le Grand Studio in Beijing years ago and has been the Creative Art Director for China Yacht Magazine till early 2021.