“Know your mountain.” You’ll not know where you are going until you know where you’re coming from… And so it is with Walt Disney Animation Studios. I’ve remarked before (The Making of Disney’s Zootopia with Animator Darrin Butters) on the Disney process. Therefore, what we see on the screen in our 90 to 130 minutes as audience members is the culmination of years of extensive research, soul-searching, and MILEAGE. As in the case of Zootopia, it was exploratory safari trips to Africa. For the making of Moana, it was deep-diving excursions to Polynesia. In this film, Disney’s Moana Artist Tour tells of the journey to the South Seas.
Disney’s Moana Artist Tour
This is a plunge into the John Lasseter treasures. It is this exquisite process that enables each fan drink up every drop of what we are about to experience on the screen. On November 17th in New York City, it was Jessica Julius’s turn to plot the journey to this latest of Disney’s films. As Disney Creative Executive and shepherd of this project, Jessica had a hand in every stage of development. Along with Ron Clements and John Musker (directors of Moana), they continue the “culture of collaboration” that has come to be synonymous with the Disney artistic process. Over a five-year period, three trips to Polynesia (including the islands of Samoa, Fiji, Tahiti, Bora Bora, and New Zealand), they persevered to “find the heart” of the South Pacific. (I can’t be the only one who wants a gig with them!!)
Moana is a CG-animated tale of an island teenager (Auli’i Cravalho). Born with the heart of an adventurer, sets sail to fulfill her destiny and save her people. She finds the demi-god Maui (Dwayne Johnson “The Rock”) who will help her find the lost Heart of Te Fiti.
Disney Creative Executive Jessica Julius
This “wayfaring” is the impetus for Jessica’s latest book: The Art of Moana. In exploring the landscape, the oceans, the sounds and most importantly, the islanders, the goal was to map an authentic Oceanic Story Trust. Add in Tony winner Lin-Manuel Miranda and Grammy winner Mark Mancina, local Opetaia Foa’i, founder and lead vocal of the band Te Vaka! They were slated to keep the score authentic and traditional. Jessica recants an early interview with a resident elder. “For years we have been swallowed by your culture, this one time, can you be swallowed by ours?”
|Two books authored by Jessica Julius.|
Though not meant to be a documentary, it is this attention to culture, legend, and the ocean that connects rather than divides these islands. THIS makes Moana believable and alive. In fact, because of the difficulty in animating an ocean’s currents, circulations, and waves, this film contains the most number of special effects ever seen in a Disney movie. (Not to mention the efforts animating all of Maui’s tattoos!)
Moana has already set sail into DVD libraries. However, fully appreciating the Disney artist’s navigation to the film will make the journey SO much more compelling.
|Thank you Jessica!|
Get out there and put your stone on that mountain.
Walt Disney Animation Studios’ MOANA
ABOUT THE FILM: Three thousand years ago, the greatest sailors in the world voyaged across the vast Pacific. They discovered the many islands of Oceania. But then, for a millennium, their voyages stopped. No one knows why. From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes “Moana.” This sweeping, CG-animated feature film is about an adventurous teenager who sails out on a daring mission to save her people. During her journey, Moana (voice of Auli‘i Cravalho) meets the once-mighty demigod Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson). He 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. Along the way, Moana fulfills the ancient quest of her ancestors. Fittingly, she discovers the one thing she’s always sought: her own identity. “Moana” was directed by the renowned filmmaking team of Ron Clements and John Musker (“The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin,” “The Princess & the Frog”). And produced by Osnat Shurer (“Lifted,” “One Man Band”). “Moana” sailed into U.S. theaters on Nov. 23, 2016.
If Disney’s Moana Artist Tour showed us anything , it is, once again, the journey is half the adventure.