Sunday 25 August 2013

Ron Clements Talks Disney, The Little Mermaid and Moana - Which Is Apparently a Musical

Photo credit: Sioux City Journal

Ron Clements, alongside directing partner John Musker, is a legendary name in animation, having directed Disney classics like The Little MermaidAladdin and, more recently, The Princess and the Frog. Clements and Musker are now hard at work on their seventh feature film, a film we've previously learned is called Moana. In a new interview with Sioux City Journal, Clements talks about his tenure at Disney and speaks a little about Moana.

SCJ refer to the upcoming film - which is apparently a Pacific-set Polynesian tale - as untitled (to be expected, given that the film has still yet to be even referenced officially by Disney), but do say that it's a musical. It's exciting news, and news we've all been hoping for, given that Clements and Musker made their names by helming some of the best musicals of the last few decades. With The Princess and the Frog's New Orleans-inflected jazz/blues numbers, expect appropriate Tiki-ish songs to populate Moana.
SCJ says: "Now, [Clements] and Musker are working on the script, deciding the film's look and considering possible voice talents. It's an exciting time in their world but it's at least four years before the untitled movie will see the light of theaters."

Paperman used new animation software, called Meander, which fuses traditional
hand-drawn animation with the computer-aided depth of CG. Moana is rumoured
to use it too.

That seems to tally with our previous speculation that Moana would open on Disney's pre-pegged 8th March, 2018 slot. And we can but hope that "deciding the film's look" entails working with the new Meander software that Disney used on their Oscar-winning short, Paperman.

The article also says that Clements and Musker were working on another film, but, due to conflicts over the rights to the unspecified property, "all that went away." Clements adds that the duo "were bummed for a little while and then went back to the beginning and pitched three new ideas," opting to work on an original film to prevent any similar problems. "We've been developing this for two years," the director says.

Clements, who will turn 60 this year, has been at Disney nearly 40 years and seems to think he may not have many more films left in him. "We're not sure if this will be our last one," he says. "They take so long and there are a lot of young directors coming up. The bulk of the work is down the line, so we'll see. We're not the Nine Old Men," he adds. "We're two old men."

Clements spoke in depth about his many experiences at Disney, including almost joining DreamWorks amidst Disney's mid-2000 dark days, before newly-appointed CCO John Lasseter brought him and Musker back post-Pixar buyout.

Clements and Musker's first big success, The Little Mermaid,
arrives on Blu-ray for the first time on 1st October.

One of the best quotes from the article is this one though:

"Everybody hoped there'd be another golden age of animation but nobody knew if it would happen. And then it did. 'Mermaid' surprised everybody and it proved these weren't just movies for children. Adults could like them, too."

Hear, hear! Be sure to check out the full piece for more about the legendary director's storied history at Disney, on Sioux City Journal's website. And if you missed it earlier in the week, check out the exciting new details we heard about another upcoming Disney film, Giants, here.

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