I attended the #PetesDragonEvent courtesy of Disney and all of my expenses were covered. However, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own!
Behind the Scenes of The Jungle Book With Brigham Taylor and Rob Legato #JungleBookBluRay
While I was in LA for the #PetesDragonEvent, I had the chance to go Behind the Scenes of The Jungle Book with Brigham Taylor (Producer) and Rob Legato (Visual Effects Supervisor). For anyone who has the seen The Jungle Book this is an amazing opportunity. While watching the movie, I could not stop myself from marveling at all the work that went on to create the visual masterpiece I was seeing. I was amazed at the detail and care that went into every second of the film. During our interview we also had the chance to take an exclusive look at footage from behind the scenes and see how it all came together. Learning about the process and how it came together is mind blowing and I have 5 Behind the Scenes secrets to share with you today.
Behind the Scenes of The Jungle Book
#1 – 2,000 People – When you take into consideration all the musicians, crews, voice actors, etc. that were involved from the start of production to the end, there were approximately 2,000 people. This is amazing when you think of how many man hours this turns out to be and how coordinated the efforts must be to get the job done.
#2 – 2 1/2 Years of Full Production – When you take a look at how many people were involved in the production of such an amazing undertaking, you start to wonder how long the whole production process takes. It took approximately 6-8 months for story development and then almost 2 years for full production. The filming process does not take long but there are so many parts that need to be worked out before and after filiming a movie like The Jungle Book that uses CGI to create almost all of the characters.
“But for me, it wasn’t unique to see the better part of the year in post-production to finish all these shots, whether you’re working on a complex movie like “Pirates” or “Narnia” or something like that, but for me it was the nearly a year spent making all of the many specific decisions to get to the point of photography because once you saw that kid on the stage, everything had to have already been worked out in terms of the scale of each creature, the scale of the jungle, you had to know exactly where you were pointing, what you were looking at. You could see on the screen at the time, so they had to have many decisions already made, very specifically before you even shoot.” Brigham Taylor
#3 – There Wasn’t Anything They Couldn’t Do – The Jungle Book is not a cartoon but a live action film brought to life with the the magic of CGI (Computer Generated Imagery.) The one thing I noticed right away while watching the film was that you forget you are watching something that was generated on a computer. You feel completely immersed in the scenery and in the animals that have been created. When we asked Brigham Taylor and Rob Legato about the possible limitations to what they wanted to do they shared that there wasn’t anything they wanted to do that they couldn’t do.
“The cool thing is there isn’t anything that we wanted to do that we couldn’t do technically. There was discussion about well I’d rather not do something if we can’t do it well, and it turns out that everything, you know, the only restrictions were self-imposed. We didn’t want the film to be too long. We were trying to be very strict about the duration, in terms of the overall experience but there was nothing to my recollection that we set out to do that we didn’t accomplish and that was really neat.” Brigham Taylor
#4 – The Book At The End Was One of The Harder Things To Do – The end of the film pays tribute to the original animated version by bringing back the book that dances on the table. The actual book (The Jungle Book) was brought out of the archives and only the archivist could handle the book. They cut a hole in the table that was used so they could make the book dance for real. They only had a few months to create this once the idea was discussed.
“One of the harder things to do was the very end of the movie which was the book. We came up with that concept in January or Jon came up with the concept in January and before April we were finished with it but that was really challenging to produce that kind of caliber of work in that short a time without all this…” Rob Legato
“All the animation that came out of the book.” Brigham Taylor
“Well again, the concept of it, because it’s all loose until it all kind of comes together and then when it comes together we are releasing the movie.” Rob Legato
#5 – Puppeteers Stepped In To Add a Human Element For Neel Sethi (Mowgli) – This was Neel Sethi’s first time acting and you would never know it while you are watching the film. He is the only live figure in the majority of the movie and to assist him in feeling the emotion of the scenes the puppeteers and crew got creative. They would use the puppeteers as stand-ins for a character, gluing eyeballs on things so they looked real, and using actual animal puppets. The puppets were created by the Henson company and helped Neel get a sense of the scene and who who was acting with.
“Yeah, well, part of the decision, too, was the fact that it was Neel, this is the very first film he has ever been in and how do you elicit a response from somebody and keep it fresh take after take after take? So, that’s why I thought, I even mentioned in there, I thought it was a brilliant idea that you have somebody that will capture his imagination with small little things, you just take, put little knuckles, eyeballs on them, and they did that and they would, you know, adlib a couple of things that were not in the movie but his reaction would be of that is in the movie.”
“So that part, for experienced actors, they are used to, and this happens all the time, people ask about well, you know, if you’re in a blue screen stage how many actors know what you’re doing? It’s like well they never see that. They are seeing this. They are seeing everybody on their I-phones, the crew kind of bored and they are talking to an ex on C-SPAN and so they are really used to the artifice of moviemaking. They are not even looking at the other actor, even if they are doing it off-screen, they are looking just slightly off so the camera looks, makes it look like they are looking at it but they are not.”
“So, they are used to a little, all that stuff, so you could put in a TV screen, you could put in some other thing that would be the other actor or, or what the scene looks like, but for a kid who was never an actor before, that is probably pretty daunting and so Jon being an actor, the reason why he was good at this sort of thing, of interpreting that, is to give him something that could change and then we’ve taken the line organic because ultimately at the end of the day it was going to be that way, for the audience to see. And so he needs to experience it to make you believe that he’s seeing the animals speaking to him and, and it’s a sort of an unrehearsed speech. He reacts to what they say and organically, so I think that that decision was, you know, one of the best ones for this kid.” Rob Legato
“Yeah that was one of the most discussed things cause the puppeteers also brought a human element performance onstage and so when we needed to build some, not every shot required a scale puppet but sometimes we did, whether it was to cast a shadow or to get the right byline and also to get a performer in there and so we turned to the Henson company to build those. They didn’t have much time because we figured this out, we need that and they turned it around quickly and they also turned us onto some of these fun performers with Artie and Allen and Shaun. These guys were very used to working that way but also were just great at feeding these lines and giving the performances so that was vital, something that Jon paid a lot of attention to because he knew how important Neel’s performance was.” Brigham Taylor
I always find it interesting to discover interesting facts that you are not normally privilege to. Being able to take a look behind the curtain, so to speak, always leaves me more amazed. I can’t wait to watch the movie again because I feel like I appreciate the special effects and work that went into creating such a masterpiece. Make sure to check back next week to discover special Behind the Scenes features and more on The Jungle Book Blu-Ray & DVD. The Jungle Book is available on Digital HD today and will be available on BluRay/DVD on August 30th.
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