Special Behind the Scenes Look at the Making of Moana
This week during the #BeOurGuestEvent we had the opportunity to go behind the scenes to learn about the making of Moana. Thanks to Disney Home Entertainment we were treated with a special presentation from an authentic dance troupe from the Pacific Islands. The presentation included a bonus features showcase and a Q+A with Directors Ron Clements & John Musker, Producer Osnat Shurer, Costume Designer Neysa Bove and “Mini Maui” 2D Animation Supervisor Eric Goldberg….and of course the Polynesian dancers!
Our evening started with a special dance presentation before producer Osnat Shurer introduced the directors Ron Clements & John Musker to our group. They started by telling us about how they came up with the idea of Moana. Originally the story was centered about Demigod Maui and his shapeshifting powers. When they pitched the story to John Lasseter, he encouraged them to do research and that’s when we traveled to the Pacific Islands to immerse themselves in the culture. They met and interviewed archaeologists, anthropologists, linguists, villagers, sailors, navigators, and many other people on the islands to learn as much as they could about the culture. That research trip changed the direction of the film to the current film we’ve seen and fallen in love with. You can learn about the research by watching the bonus feature “Voice of the Islands”
After a couple more presentations we had a question and answer portion with the directors, producer, costume designer, and animator. We had the opportunity to ask questions about the filmmaking process and more.
We jumped right in with the questions starting with what was one thing they saw from the culture that’s still living within that region that they wish that people here sort of would embrace?
John M: The idea of knowing your mountain is a cool thing, which basically has to do with looking to the past and to the future. That you’re the soul of everything. That you had sometimes in our culture, it’s all just about what’s here now, or what’s coming. But they had a real respect for their ancestors in the past. I think we could take a cue from that in terms of moving forward. That’s one of the things I, I really liked.
Ron C: There’s a big emphasis on connection, and interconnectedness. Connecting to the people around you, the people that were before you, and the people who will come after you. And connecting to nature and, and that sort of sense I think that people on an island have very strongly sense of, we’re all in this together sort of attitude.
We’re in a culture now where there’s a lot of talk about, walls and building this, and building that. The lesson we saw down there was an emphasis on the ocean doesn’t divide people, it connects people. And, and so, a society or world where they it emphasizes. And I think that’s what this film did really in a way that celebrates a culture, we’re trying to get a window to a culture that we don’t know about.
Although it may be a bit early for them we asked about the possibility of a sequel for Moana. I know my family would love to see that for sure. Ron talked about their willingness to explore other Polynesian mythology, and the producer told us about the process for sequels.
Osnat: The, the way we work with sequels here at Disney Animation Studios is that, the filmmakers will after a little rest come back into development, and talk, and think about what they’d like to do next. If there’s a really compelling story from within a world that we’ve already explored, we’ll look at doing a sequel. It will rarely come from the outside. It’ll come from the inside out.
We asked what kind of compliments they have received since the film has been released? I know for me personally, it was very touching to see a culture represented with help from the people in that area of the world. It was beautiful to watch and it was even more special to learn about how much they impacted the film.
Osnat: For, for me there were many, many moments, but one that stands out is, I got to go back to Tahiti. We were announcing that we were translating the movie into Tahitian, this is the first time ever the movies have been translated, ‘cause everybody speaks French, and it was a request that we got from Hinano, who you saw in the film. We were able to make this happen, and the joy, the love, the, the reception that we got, it’s going to go into all the schools. We’re doing the mix after next week. It’s the only movie ever in Tahitian. It’s going to be in 60 schools, the Tahitian Language Academy’s involved, and people were just like, “Thank you. We’re bringing our culture back, and bringing our language back.” So, to me that was the most meaningful moment.
Learn About Dance & Culture of the South Pacific Islands
After screening, the bonus features and our question and answer portion attended a special presentation with Tiana Liufau about her contributions to the film. She shared about dances in the movie and how dance is a part of her culture.
After the presentation, I snapped a few photos with Tiana and her dances while waiting for dinner. Fellow blogger Tami shared photos of some of the delicious food we had the opportunity to try over at her blog Talking with Tami.
I had a great night jumping into the beauty of Moana in a new way. Be sure to grab your Blu-ray combo pack of Moana which is available in stores now. So you can view all these special bonus features and learn so much more about the people of the South Pacific Islands.
Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Moana,” the sweeping story of a spirited teenager who sets sail on a daring adventure to save her people, starring newcomer Auli‘i Cravalho as the voice of brave and tenacious Moana and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (HBO’s “Ballers,” “Central Intelligence”) as the larger-than-life demigod Maui, has dazzled both critics and audiences. The film earned a 95% critics’ consensus on Rotten Tomatoes and the No. 1 spot at the domestic box office opening weekend. Now, “Moana” sets a new course, arriving in homes on Digital HD/3D and Disney Movies Anywhere (DMA) on Feb. 21, and on Blu-ray 3D™, Blu-ray, DVD and On-Demand on March 7.