And the call isn’t out there at all
It’s inside me
It’s like the tide, always falling and rising
I will carry you here in my heart
You’ll remind me
That come what may, I know the way
I am Moana!
What an experience! I had the opportunity to interview directors Ron Clements & John Musker, producer Osnat Shurer, costume designer Neysa Bove and “Mini Maui” 2D animation supervisor Eric Goldberg.
Imagine being the woman responsible for Moana’s famous look – the one that every child under 9 is wearing these days?! Even my 11-year-old is walking around rocking Moana’s necklace. What an impact the costumes and design had with this animated film. I was so happy to see how excited Neysa was about her job. She truly loved every second of her day and that’s all that we can hope for, right?
And Eric Goldberg?! T-H-E Eric Goldberg??? Oh my! He’s the famous hands behind the Genie from Alladin. It only made sense that the creators tapped this artist to bring Maui’s 2-D tattoos alive on the screen. I always had so much fun watching that mini Maui go!
Related: How To Draw Moana
Then we have Ron and John. RON AND JOHN! Don’t get me started on the Ron and John duo – The Little Mermaid, The Princess and the Frog, Alladin, Hercules… and more! Talk about Disney GREATNESS. It was a bit overwhelming if I am being honest with you. I grew up watching The Little Mermaid over and over again on a VHS.
I played it so much that we had to buy another one. I broke the first. I loved every song, every frame, every villain. It even inspired me to go back and read the original story – (which was a bit different from the animated version that we all know and love by the way.) I was beyond thrilled to be included in this adventure.
To have a chance to talk to the Disney creators that have directly impacted my life… well, that’s something that will never grow old. Every trip back to Disney feels like the first. Every interview gives me that original feeling of joy. As odd as it seems, these trips inspire me to reach for bigger stars – the ones that are way in the back. The ones I might have thought were untouchable before.
It didn’t end there! We also had the opportunity to have a dance presentation led by none other than Tiana Lirufau! Be sure to check out the above video to see her team in action. But be warned – once you start hearing the beat of her drums, your hips will begin to move. Can you read and shake at the same time?
So, yes. We had a magical Polynesian presentation followed by some amazing interviews. What a Disney treat! Here are my favorite quotes from our evening with Moana.
Moana interview: My favorite quotes
Did you know that Moana originally had brothers in the film? John explained why the team decided to take them out. But guess what? We can look forward to seeing a scene with them in the BONUS MATERIAL!
In the earlier version of the story, Moana had several brothers. She was like, “I’m the only girl in the family full of brothers.” I think from that early, one of the early screenings we had this big canoe race, where she basically races her brothers and manages to finish sort of first. That was a fun scene. Then as the story evolved, the brothers went away because we were trying to focus more on gender not being her problem. She’s really just trying to find this voice within. Who is she? So, the brothers kind of went away. But it’s a fun scene on its own right, and it’s got some fun action and things.
Everyone had to take multiple trips to the Polynesian region in order to understand the culture, to interview the people who lived there and to properly paint a picture that everyone would be proud of. I asked the team what was one thing they wished our culture had more of from what they saw from their travels.
JOHN: 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, you’re the soul of everything. 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 : There’s a big emphasis on connection and interconnectedness. They’re connecting to the people around you – the people that were before you, and the people who will come after you. And connecting to nature – that sort of sense I think that people on an island have very strongly. It’s this kind of, “we’re all in this together” sort of, sort of attitude.
OSNAT : I think also the respect for nature, the relationship with nature. I talked about it a little bit in the piece, because we were on this island, this small island and were greeted and this great food was prepared for us in a very traditional manner. And nothing in that entire meal was manufactured in some other country and shipped. Everything was local. Everything. Even, like the way they, they put the taro into the fire.
The hard part of it was your spoon, and the inside was your potato, basically. And then we came back from the island, we were with a bunch of young guys, you know, really young, hip, current guys, and we had too many things to fit in the little minivan to head to the airport. They went, “Oh, no problem.” Went to the coconut tree, pulled down some sinnet, made rope real fast on their jeans and tied it up to tie the stuff onto the minivan. That ability to work with nature, and to be self-sufficient, and to be in relationship – to always apologize to a tree before you take it down. To be in a relationship with nature.
Everyone wants to know – will there be a sequel to Moana?
RON : Oh, I’m sure there are stories to tell. The mythology is very, very rich and, and it’s something John talked about, a little bit, but that we were not familiar with. Somehow, the western world is pretty familiar with Greek mythology. I think people know that, and Norse mythology. But, Polynesian mythology isn’t really well known. This is just a taste of some of the fascinating stories. They’re lending themselves very well to animation.
As far as highest compliments are concerned, the feelings were so warmhearted. My favorite answer was from Eric.
ERIC: I’ve done a few presentations for art colleges around here that have animation programs. And at one of them, a woman came up to me afterwards who was from the pacific islands and she was practically in tears. And she just said, “I can’t believe you guys did it. You, you got us on screen.”
That really got me. Truly! When people who feel forgotten are finally found… it’s a beautiful thing. Disney did that this time around.
Heading over to the costume department: Neysa asked herself one very important question while coming up with design conceptions and after she said it, it just made so much sense to me!
NEYSA: At the end of the day, I would always look at it and think, “If I was a little girl, what would I wanna wear?” So, I always think that when I look at it. Like, would I be excited to wear that?
Super fun, right?! What a great group of individuals. I would say I can’t wait to see what they all will do next… but I’m still really caught up on what they just put out that I really don’t care. Moana for LIFE.
*Disney invited me to LA to interview the Moana team. Flights and accommodations were covered.