A film, I’m sure you’re [not so patiently] waiting to hit theaters is Disney’s Moana. In less than 3 months (November 23rd to be exact) this much-anticipated film will fill theaters everywhere and grab audiences around the world. During my Pete’s Dragon Event trip I had the opportunity to get some behind the scenes details on Moana and the newest short film that has been added to the Disney line-up: Inner Workings.
Disclosure: I was invited on a press trip for Disney Entertainment. My travel and accommodations were provided by Disney. All opinions are my own unless noted otherwise. No further compensation was received.
We first met with Inner Workings’ director, Leo Matsuda, and producer, Sean Lurie. Director, Leo Matsuda was inspired by the transparent human anatomy pages in his childhood encyclopedia set and used that inspiration while creating the images you’ll see in the short. This short film combines both hand-drawn images and computer generated images to tell the story of Paul.
“Inner Workings,” a new short from first-time director Leo Matsuda (story artist for “Big Hero 6,” “WreckIt Ralph”) is the story of the internal struggle between a man’s pragmatic, logical side and his free-spirited, adventurous half. Created by a small team at Walt Disney Animation Studios in a unique, fast-paced style that blends CG and traditional hand-drawn animation, the short explores the importance of finding balance in daily life. “Inner Workings” opens on Nov. 23, 2016, in front of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Moana.”“ – Inner Workings
Inner Workings was super cute and had a great positive message. All ages will definitely understand the message and will fall in love with Paul and his… friends.
So not only did we get to hear from Leo Matsuda and Sean Lurie but we also had the opportunity to hear from some of the amazing talent behind Moana. This included Head of Animation- Amy Smeed, Head of Story- Dave Pimentel, Story Artist- Dave Derrick, “Mini Maui” Animation Supervisor- Eric Goldberg, and Development Sr. Creative Exec- Jessica Julius.
The foursome led us on a journey just as the ones they took when doing research for the film. If you don’t know, Disney takes their movies very seriously and one of the ways they do that is by taking many research trips. For Moana, the crew went to the Pacific Islands. They wanted to see not only the environments to get every element right but also get a feel for the culture and the people for inspiration in the film.
Moana is a story about a little girl who follows her heart and is drawn to the ocean. But why?
From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes “Moana,” a sweeping, CG-animated feature film about an adventurous teenager who sails out on a daring mission to save her people. During her journey, Moana meets the once-mighty demigod Maui, who guides her in her quest to become a master wayfinder. Together, they sail across the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous monsters and impossible odds, and along the way, Moana fulfills the ancient quest of her ancestors and discovers the one thing she’s always sought: her own identity. – Moana
The colors, music, story… everything sucked me in instantly.
Music is a huge part of the Pacific Island culture, so Disney wanted to make sure that Moana had incredible music that blends contemporary song with deep rooted heart-pounding music from the pacific. To do this they teamed up with a trio of amazing musicians. Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton), Mark Mancina (The Lion King), and pacific island musician Opetaia Foa‘i (Te Vaka)! With these 3 steering the ship, everyone knew the sounds that would be created would be nothing short of amazing. And they were right.
The actors and actresses in the film had to be able to sing and act in order to get the part.
Disney can call up just about anyone and you bet they’d sign on for a film. But the film makers didn’t want just “anyone” to play these characters. They searched high and low and really wanted these actors and actresses to have a connection to the islands. They finally found Native Hawaiian Auli‘i Cravalho to voice Moana, and knew she was perfect for the role. This is Auli’i first film ever and I’ll have a special (and hilarious) interview post with her in November right before Moana comes out. Another main character is Maui. The half god, half mortal who guides Moana on her quest to become a master wayfinder as she sails out on a daring mission to save her people. Maui is voiced by none other than Dwayne Johnson who can act, sing, and has Samoan roots.
Maui is pretty magical. Well… his tattoos are.
Maui (voiced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) actually went through a few character transformations before they landed on the final look. How exactly is he magical? Well, like I said, his tattoos are. If you look closely at Maui’s tattoos you’ll see a tinier version of himself all over. Mini Maui is sorta like Maui’s conscious. He doesn’t speak at all, though. As Eric Goldburg explained, he is just a pantomime character, so his movements are extremely important for getting his point across.
Eric Goldburg had so much fun with this character, you can tell. It was especially cool because near the end of the interview, Eric showed us how to draw Mini Maui. I recorded it and you can watch the clip below to learn how to draw this fairly simple character.
I’m a horrible artist but I think I did pretty good. Here is my Mini Maui.
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