Disney Animation Studios’ Encanto will be in theatres November 24th, but we got a sneak peek at this beautiful new family-focused animated feature from Disney Animation Studios at their press event.
Fun facts about Disney Animation Studios’ Encanto
Disney Animation Studios Clark Spencer President and the film’s producer joined us for the virtual press day. We also met with a few other filmmakers and some of the design and choreography team, including Director Byron Howard, Director and Writer Jared Bush, Co-director and Writer Charise Castro Smith, Producer Yvett Merino, and Associate Production Designer Lorelay Bove, Heads of Animation Renato do Anjos and Kira Lehtmaki, and Animation Reference Consultant Kai Martinez.
Encanto is Disney Animation Studios’ 60th animated feature
Since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937, Disney Animation Studios has made 60 animated feature films.
This is Clark Spencer’s first musical.
In nearly 20 years with Disney Animation Studios, Clark Spencer had never worked on a musical until now.
Jared Bush and Byron Howard have teamed up again for Encanto.
This isn’t their first rodeo. The duo worked on Zootopia together. And they were meant to me cohorts; the two are even both musicians (trombonists–maybe not the most common instrument to realize as something you have in common) and LOVE musicals. Howard worked on Tangled and Bush worked on Moana.
“I think these long-term relationships really, really make a difference, Howard said,”
“I think because we all trust each other, and we’re all very close, that going into these mammoth efforts that take 5 years to produce,” Bush said. “And then bringing new people into that circle of trust like Charise. Amazing writer, co-director. And finding people who are part of that chemistry. It’s a wonderful experience.
Spencer had always wanted to work on a musical, but didn’t realize how challenging it was to tell a story through song until this project.
“Here’s choreography. You got to have the songs written. There are so many ensemble songs in this film. You have to have all the actors record their parts. You got to bring all that together. You got to bring in the music side of it in terms of Mike Elizondo. You got to bring in the score side with Germaine Franco. ]So you have so many elements that have to all come together, and still has to be timed. I mean, we are on a production schedule, and you can’t say to everyone, ‘You have two days to figure out.’ You have to build that into the process of making the film.”Spencer said.”
This is Jared Bush’s second time collaborating with Lin-Manuel Miranda on a Disney Animation Studios musical feature.
You guessed it. Moana was the first collaboration.
Encanto is all about family.
Bush said as they began to talk about what was the most important to them what they all have in common, it was family.
“No matter the size or the shape, everybody, all of us, we all have a family,” Howard said.
Howard said he, Jared, and Lin all have large extended families. “I have a large, crazy, wonderful Italian family in Philadelphia. Jared has a huge family in the mid-Atlantic area. Lin is deeply connected to his family both in Washington Heights and to his roots in Puerto Rico.”
One of the aspects they researched early on was how experiences differed between children growing up within the same family/household.
Bush shared a story of how he and his sister had a very different experience/memory of growing up, based on interest and parental support around activities, preconceived notions about attending college, etc. He said he was able to better understand her after that.
“Helping us see that everyone around us is fighting their own battles, and those battles and those choices have made each and every one of us who we are today,” Bush said.
The movie is named after secret forests.
The film’s name, Encanto, is named after the secret forests called “Encantos” they discovered while visiting Colombia to research the film. The Encantos are areas of heightened spirituality, places of magic that are all over Latin America, usually in areas of natural wonder.
“Our friends in Colombia told us that magic happens in these places and always has. But not European magic, not wizards and wands, but magic tied to emotion and part of a tradition called magical realism,” Howard said.
When the team found writer Charise Castro Smith, her reason for wanting to work on the film made so much sense. In addition to her fantastic script, she was a perfect fit.
“The language of magical realism just makes visceral sense to me,” Smith said. “It’s woven into my imaginative DNA. Growing up in Miami, a place where fact often felt stranger than fiction, the tall tale version of a story often felt like the best way to capture the reality of a given event; still does.”
The family in Encanto is structured with family dynamics that we can all relate to.
There’s a strong, dependable child who’s the rock of the family. There’s the perfect golden child whose happiness blossoms. There’s a quiet kid who’s not so comfortable talking to people, so he talks to animals. And there’s the worrywart who can see the future, but only sees the bad things. And the family’s house isn’t just a house, because in an Encanto, the house itself can have powers too.
The filmmakers worked with a group Columbian Cultural Trust who were there with them throughout the making of this film, from the very beginning until the end.
The Cultural Trust reviewed early scripts, participated in every screening, and met with the Encato team weekly to help ensure that the creation design look and feel of the Encato world is on point.
The Cultural Trust is made up of experts in music, anthropology, culture, architecture, botany, and more from both inside Disney Animation Studios and outside the studio.
Being able to talk about her culture and heritage is something really excited Kai Martinez about this project.
“One of the biggest things for me working on this film was the ability to not only share my experience as a Colombian American woman and my family and talk about my home, my culture, and really dive into that, was I really appreciated the interest and the desire to learn from the whole production team, the animation team. We had meetings, and the questions, and then again the desire to create an authentic feel, an authentic story.”
“She really shared with us her personal story. And she did. She showed us home videos. She told us stories about her grandma and the family. And in this time of the pandemic, there where so many things that we wanted to go out and do with research. Having Byron and Jared going to Colombia early on, and that was such a blessing to have that. But, you know, so many of us wanted to go to Colombia and-and really dive into this research. But we weren’t able to. So Kai graciously brought Colombia, a bit of Colombia to us,” Lehtomaki said.”
Encanto is in theatres November 24th.
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