This past week at CineEurpoe in Barcelona, Spain, Pixar Animation Studios held an early press preview event, showcasing footage from the upcoming film, Coco. According to Yahoo Movies UK, producer Darla K. Anderson and co-director/writer Adrian Molina were on-hand as they shared candid stories, insights, as well as their journey into the making of the film.
Although Coco contains a darker subject matter (visiting the Land of the Dead), the film still manages to keep a light-heartedness as the film is peppered with high jinks and laughter — thanks to Miguel’s skeletal companion, Hector. Speaking of Hector, the press event featured an animation test with the skeletal figure bouncing on a trampoline – only to have his limbs pop off with each bounce.
Yahoo Movies UK sat down with the filmmakers and discussed the film’s pitch process, research trips, and more — below are some of our favorite questions from the interview (to read the complete interview, click here).
Did you draw on any historical Disney representations of skeletons for this?
Adrian: We always used to have the ‘Skeleton Dance’ playing in the background of our story room, just to remember the history. It’s from the 1930s or something.
Darla: We had that looping constantly.
Adrian: It was always a fun touchstone just to remind us of the ability to have fun with it, and to create characters which so much potential for appeal in animating skeletons.
Then we also drew a lot of references from José Guadalupe Posada. He’s a Mexican artist and his stuff is the iconic Dia de los Muertos imagery that you’ll see associated with the holiday. So letting that inspire this look and feeling of a world of skeletons that still has a lot of levity and a lot of color and vibrancy. It’s kind of ironic, but fantastic, that of all the places you go to in this film it’s the world of the dead that ends up being the most lively.
Adrian, what was your Pixar journey to co-directing ‘Coco’?
Adrian Molina: I started at Pixar as a story artist about 11 years ago and my first project as a story artist was ‘Toy Story 3’ with Darla [K Anderson, Producer] and Lee [Unkrich]. Very early on that project they just gave me a lot of freedom to explore scenes and adlib – if you will – in the storyboarding. And I enjoyed that freedom.
We just had a great relationship of creating an environment to make great scenes. So when I heard that Lee had pitched and got the greenlight for a film about Dia de los Muertos I was like ‘I have to work on that’. I come from Mexican heritage, I love working with Lee and Darla, and I started storyboarding on the film.
I may have been overly excited, but every aspect of it, I was super into it; it was all I would think about when I went home. There would come certain points on the film where story is tricky and solving problems, you can come at it from any number of directions, and you never know where the right idea would come from. But there were some problems that had been sticking points on our team for a while, and I said to Lee ‘I’ve got some weird ideas for how we might be able to navigate this, but I don’t have time to storyboard it right now. Can I write up pages, I just need to get it out of my system? You let me know if it’s helpful or not.’
So I wrote up some pages and Lee read them and it was just very fortunate that he was like ‘this has been a scene that has been sticky for me, but I’m interested in what you’re doing here. Do you have any other ideas?’ So I started writing more and more scenes. The more we sat in the story room and talked about how scenes could go, and what the movie could be, the more we just realised that we were on the same page about pretty much everything, so that very naturally turned into this situation where we both had the story in our brains, we were both agreeing on everything, and he asked if I would co-direct to be able to provide that voice and provide that perspective of the history of where the story had come from, and to get this movie finished.
Darla: He’s been a dream co-director on this film and so helpful in all of the reviews…
Adrian: I bet you say that to all the co-directors!
What are you hoping people take away from the film?
Adrian: My hope is that when you’ve seen this film you walk away with two things. One of them is a desire to pick up a musical instrument and play it, just because it’s so built into the story and the character, that I think it’s infectious. The other thing is, in the spirit of the Day of the Dead, that you leave the theatre wanting to call up your family and ask them about the stories of your grandparents or your great great grandparents. Ask your parents about their own stories. A lot of the times we never get the opportunity to make that connection, or we never think to ask. I think what this film really puts a spotlight on is that so much your family’s story is your story if you only think to ask.
Darla: In particular to Mexico, like we did with ‘Brave’ for Scotland or ‘Ratatouille’ with Paris, you get to vicariously go to an adventure in another fantastical, beautiful, different other world. We hope people fall in love with it as much as we have.
Adrian: It’s a party!
Darla: It’s a gorgeous party.
Share your thoughts on Coco with other Pixar fans in the Pixar Post Forum or in the comments below. Coco hits US theaters on November 22, 2017