Everyone has a backstory. Every character in every film or television show has been furnished with an often-unseen past to give their personality depth and authenticity in the present. The viewer most likely hasn’t given that legend much consideration, but it’s there, hiding in plain sight.
The same is true of Snorble®. Much of the inspiration behind the Snorble world of fantasy comes from Executive Creative Director, Brian Collins. A former Walt Disney Imagineer, his talents are evident in multiple corners of the beloved Disney theme parks and now in the world of Lullaboo®, which is home to Snorble. A peek around Lullaboo, which we took recently, along with a look at some of the characters who live in the Snorbleverse, is to marvel at Brian’s subtle genius.
“I joined Team Snorble fairly early on and had been given some conceptual pieces to take that initial idea of Snorble and build out the land and expand it,” explains Collins from his home in Orlando, Florida, a relative stone’s throw from where he created Disney magic.
“Working with our incredible artists to help visualize that world has really been a wonderful creative experience. Other than some early conceptual stories created by our very talented Community Manager, Ryan Patey, there weren’t very many characters besides Snorble in Lullaboo. So, one of the first things I did was create a character bible where we had a Snorble A to Z guide that listed out the variety of different critters who live in Lullaboo. We defined different places such as the Very Veggie Valley, Marzipan Mountains, Rainbow River, and things like that. The character bible we use has a description of every character, all their traits and physical characteristics, and where they live.”
A Disney Backstory
“When I was working on one of the older Disney attractions, the Great Movie Ride, there were different live-action characters in there such as a western bandit and a gangster who would interact with the guests. One of the things I did was write backstories for each character, like mini biographies. For example, the gangster, "Mugsy," is a classic prohibition era crook, à la John Dillanger. According to police records, he is 29 years old. His rap sheet goes back to the days when he was a kid, scamming tourists and picking pockets. These backstories were written so anyone who had to play that role had that little background they could read to understand right away who that person was. Then they could give a better show to the audience. It’s the same thing with Snorble in that you have to understand what those background elements are to be able to tell the story of Lullaboo, Snorble, and all these wonderful critters.”
Consider that for a moment. When Snorble engages with a child to help create healthy bedtime habits and assist your whole family in enjoying a better night’s sleep, there’s a whole world of imagination alive in the background guiding the experience inspired by Brian’s extensive story-telling skills, particularly as a former Walt Disney Imagineer.
“In general, Imagineers are the people who conceptualize, build, and create the world-class attractions in every Disney theme park and resort around the world,” Brian explains. “They’re the artists, the designers, and, in my case, I was what they call a Show Writer. My job was to come up with scripting for attractions like the Jungle Cruise or perhaps creative copy for Epcot’s World Showcase.”
His work wasn’t limited to just writing though; he worked on many other creative development projects.
“Some of the other types of things I worked on were how the cast members perform their roles, and also supporting the Show Set Designers to create these immersive environments. That way, when you’re standing in line for the Pirates of the Caribbean, you feel like you’re in a Spanish castle and your attention is immersed in the ride before you’re even on it."
Blending Innovation, Education, and Technology
When Brian was approached by Snorble Co-Founder and CEO, Mike Rizkalla, to become the team’s Executive Creative Director, he quickly appreciated he was an ideal fit for the new project.
“When I first started learning about Snorble, it really intrigued me because my background is built on three pillars,” explains Brian. “That first pillar is innovation and creativity which is obviously grounded in my work as a Walt Disney Imagineer and beyond that. The second pillar is in education where I have a lot of background, and the third pillar is new technologies and working with new platforms that are being developed and understanding how they can be integrated into a business or a service to push them to a new level.”
“Snorble really hit all three of those for me. I love the fact that it was something new and unique that had never been done before and I could tell that Mike wasn’t boot-strapping this. Mike was investing what he needed to in order to make this successful and that was really important, that he was as committed to the project as anyone.”
Understanding the audience – or in this case the needs of the families adopting a Snorble into their home – is also key to Brian’s psyche when working his magic.
“Not only do you have to consider a broad range of people and abilities that you’re writing for, but also for cultures as well,” he adds. “Eventually, Snorble will appeal to a much more diverse audience than we have right now where we’re focusing on North America for our initial launch. In my opinion, nobody tells a story in the way that Disney does. Having cut my teeth with them has given me great preparation in understanding that it’s not the traditional once upon a time story, it’s more about the complete story and experience so parents and kids can understand the important messages we’re trying to convey in a creative way.”
As Brian continues to develop the personalities behind Snorble and the population of Lullaboo, he believes the sky's the limit in terms of creating new and wonderful activities and products. The fact that Snorble can participate in yoga and meditation, inspire, sing, play games, and wear a multitude of costumes is only scratching the surface of the creative team’s imagination.
“More than anything I’m just very excited as to where we can take this,” he says. “As a creative person, I’m like a kid in a candy store.”