Disney invited me to the all expenses paid Disney-Pixar Premiere in Los Angeles. All opinions shared are my own.
Darla K. Anderson, Lee Unkrich, and Adrian Molina were very insightful when I first sat down with them at Pixar. But they still have lots to tell about creating and working on Coco. So, we met in Los Angeles after the fabulous Marigold Carpet Premiere, where the Disney-Pixar Coco Filmmakers Share Their Journey with us.
Disney-Pixar Filmmakers Deliver Coco with A Strong Family Message
There is no doubt that Coco is a film about family. Latinos will definitively relate to the abuela’s chancleta (grandma’s slipper), but everyone will understand the feeling of familia even if there is not a direct connection to the story itself. Lee Unkrich tells us that in the six years that it has taken to make the film, they have strived to ensure the film feels timeless. The filmmakers were full of stories and exuded passion for this beautiful project that
Bring tissues to the theater
Yes, Coco pulls your heartstrings and tissues are recommended. Director Unkrich has had a hand in getting us shed tears watching his movies. We asked why he liked making us cry so much, and to this, he replied he wasn’t sure he likes to make us cry. He does want us to feel something, to have genuine emotions watching a movie. Darla K. Anderson adds that in order to have to bring the tissues out, you need to go on the emotional journey with the character. You have to laugh with them, go on the adventure with them and be invested in them. In the end, the feelings a movie leaves us with are the sum of the multitude of emotions of a film.
Fun fact: Lee Unkrich is the voice of the guy in the show that says “what did I miss?”
The biggest challenge telling the Coco story
Adrian Molina starts off by sharing that there are many pieces to the story itself, and a particular order in which the characters discover each other. It took a lot of discussions to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Added to that is the fact that the traditions shared are very familiar with part of the audience and foreign to others. So, the trick was balancing how to invite in, without slowing it down too much for those that know all the details without making it feel like it is a school lesson.
Coco has an all-latino cast
For the filmmakers, this was a natural thing to do. Lee Unkrich shares:” It was non-negotiable. It was very important to us, and it was the right thing to do. It would have been very strange not to. And it didn’t make casting a challenge; it definitely narrowed the options. I’ve worked with a lot of great actors in the past, and many of them have become my friends. Part of me felt like, I wish I could work with them again, but I knew it wasn’t going to be on this movie. So, we, we have new friends”. [LAUGHTER]
Fun fact: When someone says:” The guitar- its gone!” in the movie, that is Adrian Molina
Fun fact: there are several Mexican celebrities featured in the land of the dead like Frida Khalo, Diego Rivera, Pedro Infante, Jorge Negrete, Cantinflas, Maria Felix, El Santo, Juan Carlos Esquivel. Why? because Miguel loves music and does not have role models to connect to. These Mexican icons who used their art to change the word are in the film to inspire him and push him.
The Inspiration for Mama Imelda’s Blessing
Darla K. Anderson asks Adrian Molina to share his family’s story when he left home. Adrian indulges:“The other, the other thing that was very difficult about this is that in the land of the dead, we needed to create a whole set of rules that are not exactly intuitive to an audience. One of them being the idea of a blessing, and that the blessing is the way to send you home, In the first act, we always knew what Miguel was- he’s a musician and he loves his family, and all he wants is for them to give their acceptance and give their okay. And, and so we’re like, well, in the second act, why don’t we make that manifest? Why don’t we, we make him literally need his family’s blessing in order to go home and set things right. And this was inspired by this moment when I was going off to art school. But before I left the house, they said, before you go, we just want to give you our blessing, and I’m like I don’t know what that means. But it was my mom and my dad, so I took a knee, I knelt down and they just said a little prayer over me, and, and said, we love you, we support you, we know this is your first time going off on, on your own, and we want you to know that you have our blessing”.
Darla K. chimes:”It’s making me cry, [LAUGHTER]” You were not alone Darla K. Anderson. Even as I share this my eyes fill with tears.
What would these filmmakers want to be remembered for
Immediately Adrian Molina responded:” I would probably like to be remembered as someone who tried to use their art to make the world a better place”.
Lee Unkrich says he will say that and add:“The same thing I always tell my kids; the only thing I want for them is to be kind people. That’s always the most important thing to me, so I would like to be remembered as somebody who was kind and fair.”
Darla K. Andreson takes both of those and adds:” I think especially as a woman who had the courage to learn how to find my voice, and to set an example for other- I’m always conscious of that in the world. If you’re in any kind of a public figure to set an example to find your voice and speak out loud about things that matter”.
Disney-Pixar Coco Wins us Over
At every encounter we have had with Coco, we have brought to you love, passion and excitement. From the research, the creation of the land of the dead, bringing skeletons to life and talking to the voices of the film like Gael Garcia, Benjamin Bratt or Alanna Ubach and Anthony Gonzalez there is no doubt that at every step of the way there is so much heart and care poured into making this film. $72million at the box office for its opening weekend shows Coco has won us over as much as it has those who worked on this film.
Are you ready to watch it again? This time I plan on enjoying it entirely in Spanish!
Oh and if you are helping Santa this holiday season, be sure to get Coco fans the best gift ever!