This trip was sponsored by Disney. All opinions are my own.
We just shared our Behind-the-scenes look at Disney’s Moana and today I am sharing another fun thing that I got to do. We got to screen the Disney Tangled: Before Ever After movie, and then sit down with Executive Producer/Supervising Director Chris Sonnenburg and Supervising Producer Ben Balistreri. These two guys are really talented and it was a priviledge to hear them talk about the movie and the Tangled: The Series show. The movie and the series are set between the stories told in Walt Disney Animation Studios’ acclaimed film “Tangled” and its short film “Tangled Ever After,” the Disney Channel Original Movie “Tangled Before Ever After” makes its debut on FRIDAY, MARCH 10 (8:00 p.m., ET) leading to the highly-anticipated premiere of “Tangled: The Series” on FRIDAY, MARCH 24 (7:30 p.m. ET) on the Disney Channel.
The first thing we wanted to know was what made them decide to continue with Rapunzel and her story?
Chris told us “Just looking at the story, that there was this moment at the end of the movie where they meet and they fall in love and then there’s the short, Tangled: Ever After, where they get married. Just looking at the two of those moments I was wondering like well what–, what happened? Did they get to know each other a little bit more? Like what happened in between that time. And then there’s this great line at the end of the movie where Eugene Fitzherbert, says after years and years of asking and asking I finally said yes. You know, there’s a kind of fun line that he says there which you might be kind of you know, joking about but I also think maybe there was some time in between there.”
I myself have often wondered about this and wanted this story to continue. I love Tangled and the characters in it and definitely wanted to see more. Chris continues with “It started to become like what do I have to say about this time in these people’s lives, and young people’s lives about getting to know yourself, getting to know the people in your lives, getting to understand your relationship with your parents? And if the kids that had seen the movie in 2010 were maybe 10 at the time or eight then they’re probably getting to be about 17 years old and they might want to know like how is this character that I love so much as a kid coming to grips with this part of her life? And that was kind of for me the in of why to tell the story and how to tell the story.”
I love that they did this, because it is relatable as a parent of a teen as well as a teenager coming into herself and learning about who she is.My 5 year old is going to love this movie and the series just as much as my older girls. It is fun and entertaining, but also has meaning and truth to the experiences.
Where are they getting their inspiration for the movie and the series from?
Chris jokingly told us “You mean when I go home at night at 7 o’clock and I hear the drama that is coming from my two daughters?” His daughters are 15 and 17. I have an almost 13-year-old – so I can relate to this as well. He continues with “You know, in any kind of story, telling stories the way Disney always tells stories, there’s such a wonderful truth to the stories and there’s always magic and excitement and kind of like the fairytale aspect of our stories. But what really is the driving force between the best Disney stories is the truth of them, right? So, when we’re telling these stories, of course, we’re going to have the long hair and the mythology and the magic and what’s going to be happening, in the fun part of it. But if we don’t tell that heart story and that real story about these real characters, then we’re missing our opportunity. So, whenever I go home and my daughters are telling me about their friends and, you know, boys they’re dealing with and they’re arguing with me about something and my wife and I are talking, you know, disagreeing about how to do something with them, those are the things that hopefully we’re pouring into the stories that the kids are going to have fun watching the magic but the parents are going to, and hopefully the older kids and even all the kids will have a better view into, into the stories, the emotional sides of it.
Rapunzel is back to blonde. Why was that decision made?
Chris told us “Ultimately her name’s Rapunzel, right, long blonde hair. You know, if you’re going to tell a story about the Hulk you’re not going to tell about a dog. He’s got to be big and green. And I think Rapunzel has to be long blonde hair for it to kind of just read as the character. But really for me the trick about it and what ultimately was the trick for the filmmakers in the original movie was to give the hair a reason for being blonde and for being long and in our case, being uncuttable.
“So, all of the big story, the big question that we always ask in the story was always why. Why do these things exist? Why are we telling the story? And, you know, her hair represents her personality. It’s bigger than life. It’s bright. It’s long. It shines. It’s magical. It’s pretty much who Rapunzel is. And then the added layer of it, which is being unbreakable has its own reason for being that we’re going to get into as we go along in the story. But it always should go back to serving the purpose of why does it exist this way.”
Is there any special meaning behind the journal and that quote (“‘Plus est en vous“)?
Chris told us “It’s two things. Number one, again, I’m very much fed by my daughters. My older daughter, Arianna, I named the Queen after her. And the reason we named her after my daughter is because right when we were breaking the story and figuring out what everything was going to be, she had gone on this trip to Mexico with a huge group of people to build houses for people, kids in Mexico.
“She had just turned 14, and she was going on this big trip. I didn’t know if she was ready for it. I didn’t know if I was ready for it. My wife and I wondered if she was old enough to go, like go by herself and everything. And there seem to be this kind of questioning of is she prepared for this. She’s not–, she’s our little baby. Is she ready for this life of traveling beyond the borders and all this kind of huge life excitement? And she went and she had come back and they had given her these journals to kind of take notes and get to know people and stuff.
And when she had come back the little journal was completely covered in drawings of the little girls that she met and how she learned how to put a hinge on a door and she learned how to do all this fun stuff and she dropped her phone in water. But she kept all these drawings of her journey. I was like, that’s what Rapunzel would do. She’s very creative. She’s very much a storyteller and that’s how she would do it. So, we immediately said well, let’s give Rapunzel a journal that she can keep a record because she’s going to want to paint on the road.”
I also loved that they added this. I have been encouraging my kids to keep a journal, even if it is drawing so that they can look back and remember things. I hope this will encourage them to keep one as well. Chris continued with “So, we gave her this journal and then the added element of the inscription came very much from the movie, Glenn Keane who created the character of Rapunzel for the film, had come and I was talking to him about what we wanted to do with the show and he had done this quick drawing for me. I said give me a drawing that’s going to encourage me for years as we go into the show. And he had done this picture, this beautiful drawing of Rapunzel and on it he wrote, ‘Plus est en vous,’ and I was like what is that?
“And he says well, in the movie, we had this phrase that we were using just in the story rooms at the end of the movie all of her magic is gone but she squeezes out one last drop of magic out of her. And he said the reason behind that, the meaning behind that is that we all have more in us that we can push through it and he was telling me like when you feel like you’re at the end of your ropes, if you can’t give any more, push through and there’s always more inside of you. And I thought that was such a beautiful sentiment and I thought that the mother would give it to Rapunzel as like listen, everybody has these expectations of you of a princess, of a daughter, of a girlfriend.
“And I thought that was such a beautiful sentiment and I thought that the mother would give it to Rapunzel as like listen, everybody has these expectations of you of a princess, of a daughter, of a girlfriend. But there’s more in you than everybody else has you know, expected of you and show the world what that is and, and keep record of that in this journal. So, the phrase means there’s more in everybody. There’s more inside of Eugene. There’s more inside of Pascal. There’s more inside of Corona than everybody just sees on the surface. You know, we’re going to get into the, as we go into the season, there’s even like tunnels underneath Corona. We try and put that in every aspect. So, the journals very much a part of the large story for the show and for who Rapunzel is herself.”
The design style is much different than it is in the movie. What was the inspiration for the design for the series?
Ben explained this one. He told us “One of the things that Chris and I both come from old-school traditional, 2-D Disney background. We both started a little over 20 years ago, and so just our passion for that, that feeling of like a good Disney traditional animated film really I think drove us early on to be like hey man, we got an opportunity to push that side of it. And then from a bigger story point we really sat down and we were like if this is Rapunzel telling her story, by the time this whole series is over, this should really feel like Rapunzel told us her story.
“And how would she tell us that story? She’s not going to sit down in computer programs and be typing zeros and ones in getting mathematical equations down for our rig. She’s going to sit down and put her hand and actually do it herself. So, we really kind of embraced the whole ideological side of doing a 2-D, you know, series and where we put in everything on these little brush strokes like dry brushstrokes in that should feel like she painted it. The lines that surround everything and inside we use a very rough line quality to really give a tactile sense of sketching.
“We lay off gradient, like very computer, Photoshoppy gradients is much as possible. They pop up here and there but we kind of stay away in place of feeling like it really feels like a storybook come to life just because it–, we really want to make it feel like she is the person that’s telling you this story.”
Ben also talked about “I mean even with the tattoo and stuff like that, I think it was just literally one of the cool things about the program we’re using, it’s called Harmony. It’s sort of this blend between doing CG and 2-D. I mean technically, what we’re doing is we’re building like all of these characters in a computer by flat images that end up spinning around. So, in traditional 2-D animation you could never, ever get away with a detailed tattooed. You’d kill somebody by having them to draw it 10 billion times. But in the computer, we can actually just plant it on there and have it spin around. So, some of it’s just a little bit of, of us as designers on the show being able to get in with some cool, nitty-gritty details.”
I really liked the 2-D animation. It brings me back to when I was younger and I think my kids will love it as well.
TANGLED: BEFORE EVER AFTER (premieres Friday, March 10th at 8/7c)
TANGLED: THE SERIES (debuting Friday, March 24th at 7:30/6:30c)
Learn more about Tangled on: