Go behind the scenes with me on Moana #PetesDragonEvent

The best part of Disney inviting me to attend the press events all expenses paid is hearing the vision behind the stories we see on screen. It’s so much fun to be invited to share this with you. Check out 5 things I learned on my behind the scenes meeting learning about Moana.

moana movie behind the scenes

1. The directors were forced to go to the Pacific Islands to see the beauty and meet the people that make up Oceania themselves. It was a hardship they said! These research trips opened their eyes. Seeing all the beauty of the islands and learning the culture and being with the people showed them a love for the island that they didn’t know existed.

the minds behind moanaMoana Animation Team (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) on the making of Moana.

2. Moana has a great connection to her ancestors and the wayfinders. There’s this gap in migration in the Pacific Islands that no one can explain. This 1000 year gap which is mind blowing. No one seems to know for sure why. Moana is in direct conflict with her father, Tui. As a chief he must protect his daughter and the village. He has a rule that the people can’t go out on the water pass the reef. But Moana feels this pull to the ocean. She has a great connection with her grandmother. The name Moana is important. It means Ocean. The oceans unite and doesn’t divide. That’s the role Moana plays in the film. Moana showcases the life-changing journey of a tenacious 16-year-old who teams up with the mighty demigod Maui to fulfill an ancient quest.

3. Mini Maui as a character came in later. It was later decided he would be able to be alive and move around. It’s fun. It was hard to make it look like a tattoo bleeding out on the skin and yet look natural. Everyone wanted to see more of that relationship. Let’s look at my Mini Maui. They taught me how to draw him! Eric Goldberg the animation superviser taught us! What do you think? Should I keep my day job?

mini maui

4. Hei Hei is this small extension of Pua (Moana’s pig who is full of puppy energy). He (Hei Hei) wasn’t going to work and they were about to cut him. They decided to try to save Hei Hei. They did it. They put the dumb Hei Hei in different scenes. Then Hei Hei earned his way back into the movie. In the Pacific Islands there are pigs and chickens running around everywhere. You don’t know that until you go there. So that’s why we ended up with the pig Pua and the chicken Hei Hei in the movie. Their visit to the islands taught them so much which ends up in the movie.

Hei Hei
Photo Credit to Disney

5. At Disney we don’t have focus groups. We have story trusts. It’s all the directors, animators and others gather together in the room after the screening of segments of the movie. Then they give notes on the screening they just viewed. The room comes together and they talk about it for 2 hours. The team then has to put the movie back together. The story team is in a room all day long with the director and writer and depending on where they are it’s different conversations. The story team is the cutting room floor of animation. I have thousands of drawings that have been thrown away. Not too much on this film though. Once we start animation, it’s 24 frames per second. So after it gets to animation we try very hard to not get rid of it. Did you read that?

24 Frames per second. that’s 24 separate pictures in one second of film. That’s a lot!

Don’t miss Moana releasing November 23 just in time for Thanksgiving!

Before Moana is the fun short Inner Workings.inner workings

Inner Workings utilizes the hand drawn and CG amalgamated “Meander” animation style previously used in the Oscar-winning shorts Paperman and Feast. This is the story of the internal struggle between a man’s Brain—a pragmatic protector who calculates his every move, and his Heart—a free-spirited adventurer who wants to let loose. This was a really cute short that did give me the feels of Inside Out. Yet we can all relate to the struggle this office worker goes through. It’s really cute and fun! Check it out and enjoy when you view Moana in theaters.

More about Moana the movie.

moana release date

MOANA Release Date and New trailer

Moana movie what's it about
MOANA is an adventurous, tenacious and compassionate 16-year-old who sails out on a daring mission to save her people. Along the way, she discovers the one thing she’s always sought: her own identity. Directed by the renowned filmmaking team of Ron Clements and John Musker (“The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin,” “The Princess & the Frog”) and featuring newcomer Auli’I Cravalho as the voice of Moana, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Moana” sails into U.S. theaters on Nov. 23, 2016. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

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Genre: Animated Comedy/Adventure
Rating: TBD
U.S. Release Date: Nov. 23, 2016

Voice Cast: Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson
Directors: Ron Clements, John Musker
Producer: Osnat Shurer

Three thousand years ago, the greatest sailors in the world voyaged across the vast Pacific, discovering the many islands of Oceania. But then, for a millennium, their voyages stopped – and no one knows why.

From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes “Moana,” a sweeping, CG-animated feature film 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), who 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, and along the way, Moana fulfills the ancient quest of her ancestors and discovers the one thing she’s always sought: her own identity. 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” sails into U.S. theaters on Nov. 23, 2016.

Walt Disney Animation Studios’ new feature film “Moana” is about an adventurous teenager who, with help from demigod Maui, sails out on a daring mission to prove herself a master wayfinder and save her people.

Filmmakers auditioned hundreds of talented young women throughout the Pacific Islands before finding the gifted Native Hawaiian Auli’i Cravalho, who did not initially pursue the coveted role. The film’s Hawai’i-based casting director recalled her singing performance from a video submission for a fundraiser/talent showcase and asked Auli’i to come in and try out. Three auditions later, including her first trip to Burbank, Calif., she earned the title role, thanks to raw talent.
Dwayne Johnson stars in the critically acclaimed “Ballers” for HBO, directed by Peter Berg. Last year, he starred in the blockbusters “Furious 7” and “San Andreas.” Up next, Johnson appears in “Central Intelligence” opposite Kevin Hart for New Line, the big-screen adaptation of “Baywatch” and “Fast 8.”
The diverse and dynamic team behind the film’s inspired music include Tony®-winner Lin-Manuel Miranda (Broadway’s Pulitzer Prize-winning and multiple Tony-winning “Hamilton,” Tony-winning “In the Heights”), Grammy®-winning composer Mark Mancina (“Speed,” “Tarzan” “The Lion King”) and Opetaia Foa’i (founder and lead singer of the world music award-winning band Te Vaka).
Directors Ron Clements and John Musker made their writing-directing debut on the 1986 feature “The Great Mouse Detective.” They went on to write and direct some of Disney’s most beloved animated classics, including the undersea adventure “The Little Mermaid” in 1989, the hilarious hit “Aladdin” in 1992, 1997’s epic comedy “Hercules” and, most recently, 2009’s “The Princess and the Frog.”
Producer Osnat Shurer served as the executive producer of the shorts group at Pixar Animation Studios, responsible for Pixar’s short films, as well as all DVD bonus materials. While at Pixar, Shurer produced or executive produced a host of hit shorts, including the Oscar®-nominated “Lifted” (2006), “One Man Band” (2005) and “Boundin'” (2003).

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