San Diego Comic Con is upon us, and one of the most exciting panels of the entire convention is also one of the first–Moana: Art of Story, which will take you behind-the-scenes of the hotly anticipated Walt Disney Animation Studios feature (out this November), about a headstrong young wayfarer who heads out to the open ocean to help save her island. The panel will feature directors John Musker and Ron Clements and a very special guest, and we’ll be live-blogging it right here. It’s going to be magical.
That’s a wrap for Moana! Thanks for following along with me! If you see the Coca-Cola I left in the front row, please return it to the nearest recycling bin!
“His comic timing is impeccable, he’s able to go to the more moving moments readily, and he’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever worked with.” – Osnat
Ron reveals that Dwayne Johnson sings in Moana!
“From the day I started on this movie, I wanted to see Dwayne as Maui.” – Osnat
“As a teen, I know it’s not just girls trying to find themselves.” – Auli’i
“I think she’s going to be a fantastic role model for young girls. I think it’s a great message for young women.” – John
“I would say this is an adventure movie. Moana is going on a hero’s journey. She’s very much a hero.” – Ron responds to the woman
“You’re the reason our childhood was made. I named my daughter Ariel. What did you want to bring to this character? What do you want little girls to look up to?” – a woman in the audience. The crowd awwwws.
A little girl asks if Auli’i had ever been to Disneyland. She responded that she just went to Disneyland for the first time four months ago. Cuteness overload.
“Working with Auli’i, working with Dwayne, getting to know that culture, which we hope this movie will bring to greater appreciation around the world.” – John on what makes the movie so special.
“After watching that, I knew I was a part of something really special.” – Auli’i
People really loved the footage (if you were at D23 Expo last summer, you remember how adorable and moving it was).
One more clip: “There is a sequence, storyboarded by Chris Williams [director of Big Hero 6], of Moana’s first meeting with the ocean” – John
A second (incredibly charming) clip is playing, as Moana meets Maui (voiced, peerlessly, by Dwayne Johnson).
Different members of the production team are telling the story of Moana. They’re all wonderful storytellers in their own right.
The opening was incredible! Lays the basic groundwork of the story and Moana’s epic journey. Plus, Maui transforming into lots of cool animals.
The opening three minutes of the film is being revealed.
Auli’i introduces a clip from the film. She makes sure the audience is REALLY interested in seeing it.
“She is fearless and has this great spirit about her, and she really infused that into the character.” – Ron on Auli’i
“I think you can tell, just by listening to them, that they speak over each other. They’re amazing. You can tell how on-point they are.” – Auli’i
“She’s empowering, she’s empowered, and as a teen I can relate with trying to find yourself. I really love her.” – Auli’i
Auli’i takes a selfie with the audience. Adorable.
Auli’i Cravalho, who voices Moana, is here!
Now it’s time for Moana. It was a very difficult challenging casting her. Osnat said they looked everywhere to find her.
Jared Bush describing the evolution of Hei Hei: he started out as a jerk and then he became very, very stupid.
“We don’t just have humans, we also have animals. I’m not really into talking animals.” – Jared Bush, co-director of Zootopia.
Everyone wanted to work on mini-Maui because it meant working with Eric Goldberg.
“Mini-Maui is sort of a tattoo that can animate on Maui. And this work you’re looking at right now is the work of Eric Goldberg.” – John. (Eric gets huge applause!)
Some new footage of Maui is showing. This character is truly something else.
“Its a huge collaboration,” animator Amy Smeed says of creating the characters. “We had tons of challenges. We had these unique transformations. And we had the water, which is really a character.”
“Maui is a pan-Pacific character, and we wanted a powerful, God-like figure. He’s covered in tattoos that tell of his exploits. So when he wants to tell you a story, he can turn. He can literally give you his backstory. I want that joke in the movie!” – John
“Moana’s father believes no one should go beyond the reef. And this is a problem for Moana.” – Ron, explaining the story of Moana
“From what we learned, an interesting fact is that these amazing voyages stopped for a thousand years. And nobody knows why. About 2,000 years ago, they started back up again. It’s an oral culture, nothing was written down, and there are a lot of theories as to why it stopped and started back up again. And this is our theory.” – Ron
“Having seen how important navigation was to them, that’s what we built the story around.” – John, explaining how they cracked the story.
“Two and a half weeks of animation left.” – Osnat. It’s almost done!
“Disney is a filmmaker-driven studio. These guys spent this time building the framework for this story they want to tell. After they’ve taken an awesome trip to the South Pacific, they bring the writer into Burbank. But once you’re there, as a group, it’s a super collaborative place, it’s much more like a TV writer’s room where you’re together with your filmmakers, story artists, head of story, and as a group we tried to figure out what we want this story to say and who do we want to say it? Then for months and months and years, you’re building that story. I’ve only been on the story for a year and just in that one year, I have 700 drafts of this movie. And that’s a true number.” – Moana writer Jared Bush
The music from the trailer was created on their first research trip. “Lin mentioned this obscure musical he was working on,” John said. “Good luck with that,” Ron added. Lin then won a dance contest. These are the true stories of Moana.
“We brought together the most amazing musical team, starting with Opetaia Foa’i, who has helped us bring together our music, along with Mark Mancina, who is also responsible for the score as well. And for us, the third member of the team is Lin-Manuel Miranda” – Osnat. CUE APPLAUSE.
Osnat Shurer, producer, explains how important the music is to Moana.
“It changed us in so many ways. We learned about the history of navigation, we learned about their connection to the ocean, we heard phrases like ‘know your mountain.’ Your mountain is basically everything that came before you, and if you don’t know what came before you, you don’t know who you are. We felt like so much of this we wanted to put in the movie.” – Ron explains how the research trip changed him
Every time Lin Manuel Miranda pops up in this behind-the-scenes footage, the crowd responds enthusiastically.
The footage of the production’s research is absolutely stunning.
“It was a two week trip, and we met navigators and chiefs and experts and we just talked to people about what it was like to grow up on an island. We came away so inspired by all of these wonderful people we met. There were so many things we felt needed to be in the movie. And the next trip we brought more of our artists and musical team.” – Ron continues the explanation
“It was about five years ago. We have been working on this for a while. And after Princess and the Frog we were trying to think of another animated film. The world of the South Pacific was so intriguing. It seemed like a real draw to me. It lead me to read Polynesian mythology and it was such a rich vein of storytelling to me, in particular Maui. It seemed ideal, to me, for animation. I mentioned it to Ron, and we fashioned a story that we pitched to John Lasseter. John loved the area of the whole South Pacific, but he said, ‘you’ve got to do more research.’ So we were forced, forced I tell you, to go on a research trip to the South Pacific!” – John explains the inspiration for Moana
Ron Clements and John Musker are in the building! People are going nuts.
This highlight reel celebrating Ron Clements and John Musker is bringing down the house! A lot of Great Mouse Detective fans in the audience!
Panel is starting with the amazing Moana trailer.