Behind the Scenes of Moana & Inner Workings
In less than 3 months, Moana will be in theaters. This much anticipated film is still in production but I had the chance to see some of the footage and screen the new short film, Inner Workings, during my recent press trip for the Pete’s Dragon Event. Along with these screenings we also had the chance to hear from the people behind the films. The first people we had the opportunity to hear from were Inner Workings’ director, Leo Matsuda, and producer, Sean Lurie.
Director, Leo Matsuda, came up with the story/idea for Inner Workings and was inspired by the transparent human anatomy pages in his childhood encyclopedia set while creating the images. This short film combines both hand drawn images and computer generated images to tell the story of Paul.
Inner Workings is the internal struggle of man’s (Paul) brain and his heart. This is no ordinary journey as we see the struggle take place from the inside. It is really cool to watch the animation of his organs and how they work together (or against each other) to make him function. The main characters are the brain and the heart and their struggle find balance touches home with everyone who is trying to balance responsibility and relaxation.
Not only did we get to hear from Leo Matsuda and Sean Lurie but we also had the opportunity to hear from the amazing talent behind Moana. This great talent 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.
In order to learn about the culture that inspired the film, MOANA filmmakers embarked upon research trips to the Pacific Islands. They were given the opportunity to assemble the “Oceanic Story Trust” to help insure respect was shown for the culture in the film. The “Oceanic Story Trust” is made up of anthropologists, archeologists, fishermen, liguists, tatto masters, dancers and elders from the Pacific Islands.
It was interesting to learn the how they go about creating the perfect story and images to make the film a success. Characters are often added and removed during the process and just because they are in the original story idea does not mean they will make it into the final cuts. One of the characters who almost did not make it was HeiHei. When they first started making MOANA, HeiHei was very intelligent. He wasn’t lending anything to the story so they were given a chance to change his character to make it work or he was going on the chopping block. They came up with the idea to drop his IQ and by doing so gave him new life in the film.
One of the other characters who went thru some transformation was Maui. He has tattoos of a “Mini Maui” in different poses and the idea was made to make “Mini-Maui” interact/react with Maui. Maui is voiced by Dwayne Johnson, aka “The Rock”.
We were also given a drawing demonstration and given the chance to put our artistic skills to the test by creating “Mini Maui.” I did not do as bad a job as I thought I would but I do not think they are going to be hiring me in the art department anytime soon. Their “Mini Maui” is the top image and mine is the bottom one.
What stood out to me the most when viewing the footage was how strong and self-reliant they have made Moana. It was also very cool to see how her character has progressed from rough images to the character we will see in November. There are so many steps that they go through while perfecting these characters. They have shown incredible detail in the images of Moana, right down to her apparel.
They have even gone to great lengths to show us what Moana would look like as a toddler. She is simply adorable and once again you can see the care that is given to each character.
Moana is voiced by newcomer Auli’I Cravalho. When planning the movie, they wanted to keep with the cultural roots of the film. They were looking to have a local Polynesian voice Moana and auditioned hundreds of women. Auli’I Cravalho (a Hawaii native) was the last audition and almost didn’t audition because of all the responses they had received.
This was such an informative time and has me even more excited for November 23rd when MOANA hits theaters. Make sure to watch for our exclusive interview with Auli’I Cravalho coming to the blog soon.
Check out the trailer for MOANA and make plans to see it in theaters November 23rd.
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