I love going behind the scenes on an animated film. It’s crazy to think of how long it takes from conception to actual movie it takes vs. a regular film. Tinkerbell and the Legend of the Neverbeast is a different Tinkerbell film. Here’s what the director Steve Loter and producer Makul Wigert had to say about the film:
Q: So what’s your favorite part of the animation process?
MAKUL: My favorite part of the animation process is the collaboration and seeing an idea come to life through the work of a fantastic team of Artists. It’s been an absolute joy seeing Steve’s idea, which started 4½ years ago, and through story boarding and design into animations, to see that coming to life through the, the artistry with some amazing people was absolutely a joy.
STEVE: For me it was a story. You get to this really sweet spot when you’ve got a script and then you’ve got Storyboard Artists visualizing the script. There’s something magical that happens there because the Storyboard Artist is a new voice. They look at the written word and they say, “Oh I can add a joke here. I can put the camera here that’s gonna’ emphasize this moment or emotion.” And for me that’s when things really turn and things really elevate. So that’s a magic time for me.
Q: Can you please tell us a little bit about an idea about this movie?
STEVE: The movie was inspired by my daughter. I grew up in a household with no pets of any kind, none. No dogs, no cats, nothing and because of having no pets around I have a fear of very large dogs. Like Irish Wolf Hound dogs, Horse Line dogs. You know many years have passed and I have a family of my own. My daughter loves one thing above all else, very large dogs, and our neighborhood just has a ton of dogs. So she’ll see a neighbor walking a dog down the street and she’ll run up to the dog and she’ll throw her arms the dog in a big loving hug. Right, yeah I see it on your face. That’s exactly how I felt. It was like, “UUUHHHH” so you get that, that kind of reaction. And, “Okay the dog is okay to pet, whew.”
It showed me something you know once the fear subsided, something very important that my daughter has a huge open heart. So I had to sit her down and we had to talk about this encounter we just had with the dog. And she would say, “Well all animals are my friends. Why wouldn’t they be? In fact, the bigger they are the bigger the love they have to give.” And I thought that’s the story. That’s the story. Fawn, the animal town fairy. Loves animals unconditionally. She takes care of animals and she encounters a creature that can be perceived of as a monster and her open heart’s gonna’ be put to the test.
I thought, “Okay this is a message, this is a good message for Fawn, the character to have and for my daughter to learn to.” It’s beautiful to think with an open heart. To see the world through that prison, through that perspective a wonderful thing, but you also have to think with your head. You need the balance to have a happy life and I thought that’s exactly the story that I wanted to tell.
Q: What did your daughter think of the movie?
STEVE: My daughter loved the movie. My daughter was not just the inspiration for the initial idea through. She basically became Fawn. I looked to her for acting, for moments. There was one time when she was supposed to clean her room because friends were coming over and she just hid everything under the bed and I caught her. So there was a whole lot of “Yeeaahhh I should have done that and I did know, but I didn’t.” And I was just– as she was saying this, I was just watching the way she would twist her hand, the way she would move her shoulders up. And I thought that’s Fawn and I literally took that scene and I worked it right in the film.
When I realized that’s the connection she is Fawn, I just kept looking to her for dialogue, for moments, for movement. She just became infused into the film and on top of that she is also Calista the Bunny in the film. There is one Bunny that refuses to hop. She walks. And that’s my daughter, written just for her. Also actually speaking to that, I’m gonna’ expound on that a little bit. The film, though it’s about fairies and monsters, honestly is really about my family. I knew I needed to pull this story from a personal place. Not just with my daughter, Nyx the Scout Fairy, the over protective Scout Fairy is me. She was a very easy character to write for because that’s the helicopter parent that I am. I am the parent that you go to the park and you’re on the monkey bars and I’m concerned not only about falling off the money bars. What germs are on the monkey bars and all of these, “No get down from there. No don’t, don’t, don’t stand on there.” I’m that parent. So once I realized that’s my perspective on the world that maybe I’m thinking with my head too much and maybe I need to relax and think a little more with my heart and my daughter’s the opposite of that. I realized there’s my antagonist and protagonist.
But I wanna’ point out that Nyx is not a villain. Nyx has a point of view. She’s right about it. She’s trying to protect Nixie Hollow. She believes in this strongly. It was really important for me that it was a point of view that was real and believable and realistic.Because if she came off as a villain then I would have come off as a bad parent. So that was really important to me, but it is my family life with some names changed to protect the innocent.
Q: When you guys were creating the story did you have an idea who you wanted to cast in the various roles? Or was it more of an audition process?
MAKUL: Well we knew Ginnifer Goodwin. We loved Ginnifer Goodwin and her voice we knew was going to be Fawn. That was easy for us. We had a conversation about then who would be playing against her and we wanted somebody who could contrast the joyful bubbly nature that was Fawn. And so for Nyxz we then discovered Rosario. When we brought Rosario up she just has this cool voice. You can hear her passion and her belief in what she feels is right and that contrast we thought was really beautiful and really nice. Working with both of them was just an absolute joy. We’ve been blessed on this project having a terrific cast. With Ginnifer, with Rosario and Mae Whitman and with the rest of the occurring cast have all been absolutely fantastic to work with.
Q: What type of music were you listening to when you were shaping this story?
STEVE: It’s really interesting because music does shape your mood. I am a huge music nerd. I have a pretty long drive to and from the studio. It’s about an hour and a half, two hours sometimes and so there’s a lot of opportunity to listen to music. At the time of coming up with the story I was listening to Bleu who is a power pop Singer/Songwriter. I emotionally connected to the music. I connected to the lyrics, I connected to the sound and I knew oh this guy is a kindred spirit. I need him on the project. He will understand the emotion I’m trying to go through ‘cause I connected to this, but it absolutely does influence the work 100%. The soundtrack was actually very important to me because being I’m such a music nerd.
We brought on Joel McNeely who has done you know all the other fairy films and has done this beautiful score and Bleu as a featured instrumentalist brings the sound of Gruff. This tribal earthy sound that you haven’t heard before. He used these found instruments to create this texture that you’ve never heard. So yeah it was really important for me because I wanted to listen to the CD of the sound track in my car. It entertains me.
Q: The design of the Neverbeast, how much did that evolve from when you first started to the character that he ended up being?
STEVE: The, Neverbeast came very quickly. Initially I hired a few designers to work with me to kinda’ do some drawings from a verbal idea. Pretty quickly I realized that I had this character in my head. I knew what I wanted. I did a drawing very early in the process and we did a painting of it and then we showed it to John Lasseter and John said, “That’s it, done, there’s your character.” That was a wonderful thing to have approval and understand and visualize the character very early on. The challenge was following up on that because you have a beautiful 2-D painted imagine and now you have to realize that in a CG world, in a dimensional world.
John kept going back to us, “Keep the appeal, keep the appeal. Look at those eyes. Go back to that drawing, go back to that drawing.” It was an interesting process. He did come early and I’m very thankful for that, but it was still a challenge.
Tinkerbell and the Legend of the Neverbeast is on Blu-ray, Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere March 3rd!
***Disclosure: I attended #NeverbeastBloggers Event My flight, lodgings, and expenses were covered by Disney All opinions are 100% mine. ***