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We Asked I Am Groot Director When It Takes Place In The MCU & Why They Chose A Photorealistic Style

I Am Groot is a collection of five original shorts, which starts streaming on Disney+ Hotstar on 10 August 2022. The series of original shorts follows Baby Groot’s glory days growing up, and getting into trouble among the stars.

Courtesy of Disney+ Hotstar, we were given the opportunity to interview I Am Groot director, writer and executive producer Kirsten Lepore and Marvel Studios head of streaming / I Am Groot executive producer Brad Winderbaum. This interview has been edited for clarity. Stay tuned for the video version of this interview and the review of the series.

How canon is I Am Groot to the MCU?

Brad Winderbaum: It takes place in that window of time right when the Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 ends and before the tag scene when he’s a teenager. It explores sort of like that post-toddler era of Baby Groot that we’ve never seen on-screen before.

Were there any rules or limitations or anything you wanted to do but couldn’t do for whatever reason?

Kirsten Lepore: I feel like I had a lot of freedom. It was really incredible and refreshing. You know, everyone I’ve gotten to work with on Marvel has been awesome and sort of just let me run with my vision. Everything you see on-screen, yeah, I don’t think we got told “no” to many things.

I think we wanted to create these stories that were a little bit autobiographical to our own childhoods, like certain moments, and looking at that nostalgia of childhood, and developing stories out from there. There are a lot of things that naturally unfold in the story and we get to put that little weird mischievous Groot spin on it.

Why did you choose to go with a photorealistic style instead of something similar to Marvel’s What If?

Brad Winderbaum: At Marvel Studios, for animation, we want every story to tell us what kind of animation it should have. We wanted it to be born out of the creative vision of the filmmakers and not have a house style that we always return to no matter what the story is.

And Baby Groot being born from the Guardians franchise felt like that visual continuity was important for us.

What was it like moving from Adventure Time and Summer Camp Island to something like I Am Groot?

Kirsten Lepore: Weirdly not that different. I mean, just in the sense that, for each of those, I really got to develop the story myself and got to tell the stories that I wanted to tell. I had the same kind of freedom here.

The pipelines are different. Photorealistic CG is a very different pipeline than stop-motion and even Summer Camp Island, which was a 2D show. At their heart, they’re not that different, you just get to tell fun stories.

Did you work closely with James Gunn on these shorts?

Kirsten Lepore: We had several meetings with him. Especially, the one that stands out to me was our first kick-off meeting where we just got to talk about Baby Groot, this incredible character that he created and just make sure that we were going to do it justice, and to sort of understand what makes Groot, Groot, at the heart of his character.

James gave me tons of great advice about who he is and I really kept all that at the back of my head the whole time we were writing and all throughout the process.

Did you face any challenges while making I Am Groot?

Kirsten Lepore: It was a pretty smooth production. I feel like the only real challenge was fitting all those stories into three minutes but I think we were able to do it and I honestly think they’re better in their shorter form. I think there were versions at the beginning that were a little longer, four minutes, five minutes, but honestly, once we cut that fat out, the stories flow better and they’re more concise and fun.

What were your inspirations while making the series?

Kirsten Lepore: I have a toddler. I know Brad also has kids, so I think our kids for sure served as a definitive source of constant inspiration that’s flowing around us on a daily basis. So, for sure, some of that made its way into the shorts.

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