Live Design: What took you to Thinkwell?
Louise Murray: I was extremely honored to join Thinkwell’s Los Angeles Studio as president, where I am overseeing the strategic growth and operations of our teams in LA. Throughout my career, I’ve always taken pride in being a leader who inspires action through storytelling, and it was Thinkwell’s unique approach to storytelling and the guest experience, complemented with its global presence, that really drew me in. I believe that through storytelling you can inspire, encourage, and legitimize participants from all sides, and that’s something I want to continue to develop with Thinkwell’s teams. Leading across the many disciplines of Thinkwell’s creative studio is an exciting and invigorating challenge for me, and I’m so thrilled to be a part of facilitating future growth and change at such an innovative company.
LD: What did you learn while working for the industry biggies, Cirque du Soleil and Disney?
Lionsgate Entertainment World atrium
LM: While working for these two global brands, it was important for me to identify and implement strategic processes that created value and delivered reliable, quality experiential products on time and on budget. No matter what. In order to instill this drive and focus in my teams, it was all about inspiring and encouraging my teams and creating a space where each individual added value. I honed my craft during this tenure by learning to bring out the best in my teams and develop processes and procedures that encouraged them to perform at the highest level. While at Cirque du Soleil, I created the first integrated strategic planning process and partnership models for Touring Shows. Under the Creative Entertainment at Walt Disney World Disney, I assisted in developing the ‘Aspire, Inspire, Emote’ guest experience model. Both of these initiatives required active and engaged team members that bought into the strategic vision of the project and always showed up with a constant quest for innovation.
LD: How do you set a course for a design company for Thinkwell in today's marketplace? What are your goals for the next five years?
Warner Bros. Studio Tour London: Entrance
LM: When you’re a part of the fabric of an iconic brand and organization, one knows that the need for constant reinvention is the path for sustainability and continued health for the business. I believe this will be essential in Thinkwell’s trajectory. As we look out to the next few years, I will be collaborating with our other teams around the world to further extend the Thinkwell’s vision of connecting people through resonant and inspiring shared experiences. I will be managing our largest studio as we continue to extend our expertise into new and adjacent industry segments, and I’ll also be constantly collaborating with my global counterparts to share learning, optimize processes, and foster great relationships between our teams. It’s an exciting time to be at Thinkwell!
LD: What are the major projects you are working on now?
Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi
LM: Thinkwell has been working on some fantastic projects globally, and I am thrilled for the world to see what our amazing teams have been working on. Opening on July 31, 2019 is Lionsgate Entertainment World in Zhuhai, China. This is Asia’s first movie-themed vertical indoor theme park with rides, attractions, and more based on Lionsgate’s popular global film franchises. Thinkwell is behind the design of the entire park, led by our Beijing Studio. There will be immersive entertainment and experiences alongside innovative design and technology. Visitors will also get the chance to ride the world’s first purpose-built indoor VR rollercoaster. In April 2019, we announced our continued involvement in expansions at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter. Thinkwell designed and produced the new Gringotts Wizarding Bank experience and new attraction entrance and lobby hub. This is the largest expansion addition to the award-winning attraction since its opening in 2012. Another big accomplishment for our team in 2018 was the opening of Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi. As the world’s largest indoor theme park, Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi is a 1.65-million sq. ft. (153,290 sq. meter) park that boasts family-friendly interactive experiences, state-of-the-art blockbuster rides and attractions, unique live entertainment, and immersive themed restaurants and boutiques. Thinkwell was responsible for the master planning, creative development, design, implementation, and attraction production of the entire park. Thinkwell also served as producers of all park media.
LD: What advice would you give to those entering the industry now?
Warner Bros. Studio Tour London: Gringotts Wizarding Bank
LM: To those entering the industry: Remember to see the threads of opportunity present across the organizations and environments that you interact with every day, and connect those threads wherever you can. You never know who will be able to help introduce you to your next manager, position, team, or project. Don’t underestimate the power of listening! A good listener is critical to both creating and executing impactful and successful location-based entertainment projects, especially when you are collaborating across many different teams and individuals, sometimes in different countries.
LD: What is the relationship between Thinkwell and Réalisations-Montreal?
Warner Bros. Studio Tour London: Making of Harry Potter
LM: In April 2018, Thinkwell formed a strategic alliance with Réalisations-Montréal, the interactive studio based in Montreal that specializes in utilizing invisible, non-intrusive technology to create engaging, interactive experiences. Prior to the partnership, Thinkwell and Réalisations had already started successfully incorporating these “invisible technologies” into a number of projects, including Wahat Al Karama Visitor’s Center in Abu Dhabi and most recently, the nighttime show at Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi, the Warner Bros. Cinema Spectacular. These projects pushed the Thinkwell and Réalisations teams to work together to create well-integrated media moments and interactive opportunities in theme parks and visitor attractions. This close collaboration led to Thinkwell Group acquiring Réalisations earlier this year, in an effort to further expand and facilitate R&D innovations under the Réalisations brand while continuing close collaboration across creative and technical teams on projects in the Thinkwell pipeline. With the acquisition, we’ve also established a studio location for Thinkwell in Montréal—Thinkwell Studio Montréal. This team will lead the creative production projects coming through Montréal, while the Réalisations work will focus on technical R&D initiatives.