Disclosure: This event and trip to LA was an all expense paid journey sponsored by Disney. All thoughts, opinions and experiences are 100% my own!
A few weeks ago I was in LA for the red (blue) carpet world premiere of Disney’s MOANA. I shared with my my review of MOANA here, and in the next few days I will be sharing many more behind the scenes interviews from both cast and filmmakers. I have already shared my interview with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and also my interview with Lin-Manuel Miranda and of course, make sure to check out my interview with Auli’i Cravalho, the young actress who voices Moana and my interview with Nicole Scherzinger who voices Sina, Moana’s mother.
John Musker and Ron Clements
Did you hear the news? MOANA is a Golden Globe nominee!
Today I am sharing with you my interview with MOANA Directors John Musker and Ron Clements and a HUGE congratulations goes out to them this morning as they can now boast that their film MOANA is a Golden Globe nominee! No big shocker if you ask me, but definitely exciting to say the least!
One of the most fascinating parts about this film, in my opinion, is the history and cultural research that went into making it and of course, that’s where Ron and John come in. They shared with us
Ron: The big thing was we did a huge research trip five years ago when we first pitched the movie. We spent like three weeks in Samoa, Fiji, Tahiti. We met with cultural ambassadors, linguists, anthropologists, sailors and chiefs.
John: We got to sail in Fiji with navigators and we really tried to connect with those people. Such a tough gig. We got to go to Tahiti for three weeks. We really try to connect with the culture and learn how proud they were of their background as the greatest navigators the world has ever seen…
Ron: …and their connection to and the importance of respect for nature, respect for the environment and also the interconnectedness and extended families and the idea of your heritage and your legacy. We heard this expression in Tahiti, know your mountain. And your mountain is essentially everything that led up to you, all the people that led up to you, everything that happened, all of the things that if they didn’t exist, you wouldn’t exist. And they said if you don’t know your mountain you really don’t know who you are.
“We heard this expression in Tahiti, know your mountain. And your mountain is essentially everything that led up to you, all the people that led up to you, everything that happened, all of the things that if they didn’t exist, you wouldn’t exist. And they said if you don’t know your mountain you really don’t know who you are.” ~ Ron Clements
After talking with them, you would really see their passion for telling this story, and their integrity and concern towards telling it correctly for the Polynesian people. Not only did they study the land and get to know the people, but they also heavily researched the mythology behind Maui and the legends surrounding him and ironically, this all brought them to the creation of a Moana character and I loved hearing from them how she came to be:
John: I was intrigued with the area, the area of the Pacific islands. And then that led me to read Polynesian mythology and then I read about this guy Mali who was unbelievable. He was you know, a shape shifter. He had a magical fishhook. He could pull up islands. He had tattoos and was kind of a superhero. I was like why has this never been done in a movie before? And so I showed it to Ron. We pitched a simple idea to John Lassiter, and it was even kind of called the Mighty Maui. That was sort of the original title. Then John said you’ve got to do research, you’ve got to go to the islands.
And when we went there and we heard about navigation and all this and it was really Ron’s idea, what if we have a character called Moana, which means ocean, and we built it around her. Someone who wants to be a navigator like her ancestors. And we sort of saw this as a true grit type story where she really is this determined, forceful individual and she teams up with kind of a washed up, down on his luck…
Ron: seriously flawed demigod.
John: ….but she’s the focus of the story and so it was a challenge when we were making the movie always to keep her at the center. Sometimes Maui, because he’s kind of like a magic character, he could start to rise up and we said no, no, this has got to be in the service of her story. So our producer was very strong in terms of keep the focus on Moana when Mali threatened to take over sometimes.
Ron: Yeah, it was really a hero’s journey. We thought of this as a hero’s journey for Moana. She’s on a quest to save her people. She faces numerous obstacles. She’s resilient. She’s also empathetic, which is an important part of who she is and, and fearless and that she really finally proves herself and becomes the person that she’s meant to be.
“It was really a hero’s journey. We thought of this as a hero’s journey for Moana. She’s on a quest to save her people. She faces numerous obstacles. She’s resilient. She’s also empathetic, which is an important part of who she is and, and fearless and that she really finally proves herself and becomes the person that she’s meant to be.” ~ Ron Clements
Yay!! MOANA is in theaters NOW!!
Photo credits: Disney and Louise Bishop / MomStart.com
Just in case you are wondering what MOANA is all about, here’s a peek at the trailer: