Baobab Studios has announced the casting of Daisy Ridley in the lead role of “Magda” in their newest immersive experience, Baba Yaga. First announced today within the studio’s special Work in Progress presentation at the Annecy International Animation Festival’s 2020 Online edition (annecy.org), the studio also revealed a first look at Ridley’s character, the story and style behind Baba Yaga and insight into their unique approach to interactive filmmaking.
In Baba Yaga, viewers will be invited as a main character into a haunting fairytale world completely reimagined, and their choices will determine the ending of this story of love, fortitude and magic. Sometimes a force for evil, sometimes a force for good, the enigmatic witch Baba Yaga uses her powers to stop the villagers whose settlement encroaches upon her enchanted forest. When the viewer’s mother, the village chief, falls deathly ill, it is up to them and their sister Magda to do the unthinkable — enter the forest, uncover its hidden mysteries and get the cure from Baba Yaga. Ultimately, every decision the viewer makes matters … even whether humanity and nature can live in balance.
“Baobab is at the very forefront of VR and interactive animation, so it’s been exciting to work with Eric and the team to bring such a beautiful story to life. I love playing Magda, because she is brave, vulnerable and fiercely protective of her family all at the same time. The idea that the viewer will be able to genuinely interact with my character in this magical world and help steer the course of the narrative is so amazing,” said Ridley, who rocketed to global stardom when she joined the Star Wars universe as “Rey” in The Force Awakens.
“We are so fortunate to have Daisy breathe life into the role of Magda, as her talent and energy for the project fuels us all. She has such a way of always finding the right tone and delivering the most meaningful performance for any scene. Her work is such a huge inspiration to our animators,” added Eric Darnell, Baobab Studios’ Co-founder/CCO and director of Baba Yaga.
Maureen Fan, CEO and Co-founder of Baobab Studios,said, “We’re so honored to work with a talent like Daisy Ridley who is such a strong role model to women of all ages. She IS Magda — fierce, brave and independent.”
The Baobab Studios team will participate in a Live Q&A hosted by the Annecy Festival on Tuesday, June 23 at 9 a.m. PST / 6 p.m. France time, which will be open to the public (register here.). Featured panelists will include several key creatives from the production, including Darnell, co-director Mathias Chelebourg, development producer Shannon Ryan and animation supervisor, Ken Fountain.
“I wanted to start Baobab because I love animation. You know how when you were really young you thought you could do absolutely anything? You thought you could be an astronaut, a musician, athlete, anything, but something happens as you get older. But when I watch animation, or play animation in a game, I am brought back to that five-year-old sense of self where I think that anything is possible and I feel invincible. And it inspires me afterwards to go after my dreams, and that is the power of animation. I want everyone to feel invincible. I want to inspire you to dream by bringing out your sense of wonder, and you matter. That’s our mission at Baobab.”
— Maureen Fan, CEO & Co-founder, Baobab Studios (Annecy WIP Session)
Directed by Darnell and co-directed by Chelebourg, Baba Yaga is a contemporary portrayal of the Eastern European legend inspired by illustrative 2D pop-up animation, hand-drawn and stop-motion styles, creating a modern visual language for VR inspired by classic animation. Leveraging the studio’s award-winning animation pioneers and interactive gaming veterans, Baba Yaga blends theater, cinema, interactivity, AI and animation into a unique experience that explores themes of empowerment and environmentalism.
Baba Yaga will premiere in multiple formats later this year. Visit www.baobabstudios.com to learn more.