John Davis: 'Bully' for Him, Books for You Animated film director John Davis is back in theaters this month with The Ant Bully. His cartoon hero, one Lucas Nickle, is a boy cut down to size by a colony of creepy-crawlies. But before Davis made movies he read books. A short list for the younger set.
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John Davis: 'Bully' for Him, Books for You

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John Davis: 'Bully' for Him, Books for You

John Davis: 'Bully' for Him, Books for You

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Summer is in full swing. Backyard barbecues, books by the poolside, and a summer movie in the chilly comfort of a theater.

Joining us to talk about his summer must-reads, from his home in Dallas, Texas, is Academy Award-nominated film director John Davis. Davis' newest project, the Warner Brothers animated film, the Ant Bully, hits the big screen at the end of the month.

Hi, welcome to the program.

Mr. JOHN DAVIS (Film Director): Hi. Thanks.

KAST: Do you have much time for reading this summer?

Mr. DAVIS: Well, you know, it's kind of hard to sneak it in, in between writing and directing, but actually I do a lot of reading for research for things.

But when I do have free time, I've been going back and actually re-reading a lot of books that I read in my younger days. I used to read a lot of science fiction literature, particularly authors like Robert Heinlein and Philip Jose Farmer. One of my favorites when I was in school was a book called The Star Beast, and I've been re-reading that.

KAST: What is the urge beyond going back and re-reading? Why does this seem like a good time to go back and delve into things you've already read?

Mr. DAVIS: Well, part of it is that reconnecting with things that excited me when I was younger, because obviously the films that I make are targeted to more of a family audience and a younger audience, and so I sort of reconnect to things that excited me when I was younger.

KAST: Can you give us one or two favorite Robert Heinlein titles?

Mr. DAVIS: Yeah, The Star Beast, that I mentioned, was one of my favorite of his youth novels. And Glory Road was another one. Later books, like Stranger in a Strange Land, was one of my favorites. Time Enough for Love.

He started getting into more adult themes later, but they still just, I just loved his writing.

KAST: Now the film, The Ant Bully, is based on a book by John Nickle. Tell us more about the other reading that you did while you were working on that script.

Mr. DAVIS: I read a lot doing research. I tried to not read a lot of fiction that was based on any sort of, you know, ant ideas, because I wanted to be somewhat fresh. But I did read a lot of, you know, did a lot of research on just the science of ants and colonies and how they function. And then also tried to draw parallels with aboriginal culture in terms of how aborigines are capable of doing some pretty amazing things, like communicating over long distances without any means of, you know, any technical assistance. And scientists are still, you know, sort of baffled how they're able to do this, and kind of drawing parallels to the way ants communicate using odor cues over long distances. And so sort of an interesting parallel, and it helped kind of flesh out that world.

KAST: Director John Davis joined us on the phone from his home in Dallas, Texas. Thanks so much.

Mr. DAVIS: Great. Thanks.

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