As part of my trip to LA for the McFarland USA press junket, we got to cover the release of the new Disney Tinker Bell and the Legend of the Neverbeast movie that is coming to Blu-Ray and DVD on 3/3/15. Not only does it feature on of my favorites Ginnifer Goodwin as the voice of Fawn, the movie itself is very touching and the story is beautiful for all ages. We were able to interview Director Steve Loter & Producer Michael Wigert about the film.
As we all sat down around the table Steve greeted us – “Hello! So hi and welcome to Disney Tune Studios. We’re, we’re really glad to have you guys here. Appreciate you all making the journey and joining us. And we just had a fantastic day talking about the film.”
We got right into the interview. The first question was “What’s your favorite part of the animation process?”
Michael answered first with “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 artistry with some amazing people was absolutely a joy.”
Steve added “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. And there’s something magical that happens there because the Storyboard Artist is a new voice. And 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.”
Since we were able to see a screening of the movie the night before the interviews, we also got to talk to Steve and Michael a little as well. They told us that the movie was based on a true story (about Steve’s daughter) and so we wanted to know more about that.
“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. And you know many years have passed and I have a family of my own. And 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.” Steve said.
At this statement many of the moms in the room got big eyes and nodded their heads as they related that they understood exactly how he felt because their kids did the same thing. Steve went on to say “Right, yeah I see it on your face. That’s exactly how I felt. [LAUGHS] And it was like, “UUUHHHH” so you get that, that kind of reaction. And, “Okay the dog is okay to pet, whew.”And, and 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. And 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.”
This is so beautiful. It’s so true about kids and the love they have for animals, and it is a great message to open our hearts and minds to the unknown and love everyone and everything.
The story is beautiful, but we wanted to know if that is how it started or if it evolved as they did the film. Michael gave us more insight. He said “We were actually incredibly fortunate in that the initial pitch that Steve did to John 4½ years ago is the film that we ended up making. And so you know little events bounced a little bit, but for the most part the introduction of Fawn, Fawn discovering Gruff, Nyx, Tinkerbell, all of that interaction. That all remains true to the goodbye at the very end. And that was the entire story. That was the pitch and John fell in love with it. He was like, “I know exactly where you’re going. That’s the film we’re going to make.” And that’s– that is in fact the film we ended up making. And we were very fortunate in that respect it was relatively smooth.”
Steve added “The story remained very consistent. John got the emotion almost immediately and as soon as I talked with him about my daughter and inspiration and how I would tell him, “This is a real event and this is the prospective I took with Nyx and Fawn because this happened, that happened. That’s how I felt about that.” He got it. He goes, “Yeah that’s your film. You got it. You know what you’re doing.”
In the movie Nyx [voiced by Rosario Dawson] and the other Scout Fairies were very agile and moved quickly. We wanted to know more about Nix.
Steve told us “They’re physical. They’re very able. They’re very athletic and there’s a Pixie Hollow for them, absolutely. That action scene of where she’s saving the Sparrow Men in the tower and stuff like that I love Par Core. We did some reference on Par Core and we said that’s a pretty amazing thing and it’s real. You can do it. People do it. It’s not a trick of the camera. It actually happens. Nyx is so skilled she would be able to do that. And certainly the drive is there because she is there to protect and nothing– crumbling towers, falling rock will prevent her from saving a fellow fairy.”
The cast for Tinkerbell and the Legend of the Neverbeast is amazing. We wanted to know if they had an idea of who they wanted to cast or if they held auditions.
Michael told us “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 Nyx we then discovered Rosario [Dawson]. And when we brought Rosario up she just has this cool voice. And 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. And working with both of them was just an absolute joy. We’ve been blessed on this project having a terrific cast. With Ginnifer, Rosario, Mae Whitman [Voice of Tinkerbell] and the rest of the occurring cast have all been absolutely fantastic to work with.”
The cast for the movie includes Ginnifer Goodwin as Fawn, Mae Whitman as Tinker Bell, Rosario Dawson as Nyx, Megan Hilty as Rosetta, Pamela Adlon as Vidia, Lucy Liu as Silvermist, Raven-Symoné as Iridessa, and Anjelica Huston as Queen Clarion.
Previously we had gone into a session with Bleu and we were able to hear the music he made for the movie as well as talk to him. He said that Steve was very musical. We wanted to know what type of stuff Steve was listening to when he was shaping this story?
Steve told us “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. And 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, he will understand the emotion I’m trying to go through ‘cause I connected to this, but it absolutely does influence the work 100%. And the soundtrack was actually very important to me because being I’m such a music nerd. We brought on Joel McNeely who has done 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.”
During our interview wtih Ginnifer Goodwin (which we will post soon) she told us that Steve and Michael set up a bed for her when she was pregnant (and working on the film). We wanted to know what they had to say about it.
Michael told us “She was quite relaxed.” and Steve added “Yes it was, it was great.”
Michael went on to say “Yeah the great thing about it was it didn’t impact her performance. We were a little worried. Sometimes she can be a little too relaxed, and of course both [of us] being fathers, there’s that little bit of fear of like, “Oh we’re not gonna’ be called to do any dramatic rescues on this,” but the session was fantastic.” Steve added “So I’m glad she had a good time with it.” and laughed.
Gruff has beautiful designs on him. We wanted to know if they were particular for anything or they just random?
Steve told us “They’re intended to be tribal and earthy. I did a lot of reference. I looked at a lot of ancient literature. A lot of wood cut drawings you’d find in these really old tones. And I also looked at some of the more modern comic book graphic novel sensibilities. I wanted to find something that looked so old world. Something familiar, but very old. It was from imagination but definitely rooted in a lot of uh truth and material research. I just picture in my head the Gruff that I love and I think he’s a combination of all the things I loved as a child. So everything is part of the DNA I think.”
The interview was really great and I am so glad that I had a chance to sit down with them and learn more about this amazing movie that will be hitting homes soon!
Pre-order your copy of Tinker Bell and the Legend of the Neverbeast out on DVD and Blu-Ray on March 3!
Also be sure to check out these fun Tinkerbell and the Neverbeast items: