Learning about others cultures is so magnificent to me. So is discovering the process of how art is created. I may be a fan girl and a Disnerd, but I am totally awe struck when it comes to Pixar. Being able to visit them and sit down to Get to Know The World of Coco with Film Makers Lee Unkich Adrian Molina and Darla K. Anderson tops it all! It is an explosion of very interesting pixie dust that is rich and magical at the same time. Just like Coco is. Here are the details of our exclusive sit down with the creators and film makers of the Disney-Pixar animated film Coco:
Get to Know The World of Coco with Film Makers Lee Unkich Adrian Molina and Darla K. Anderson
I had so much to ask! We did get plenty of answers and got even more excited to see the rest of the film! To begin, we found out that Director Lee Unkich sat with John Lasseter and pitched the movies along with 2 other ideas back in 2011. The original story has changed since then, but not the setting around the celebration of the Day of the Dead. It felt unique to John Lasseter and he was really excited about. He wanted the team to plow forth and soon a month later they were all in Mexico in time for the Day of the Dead to begin their first research trip. Adrian Molina is the story writer and Darla K. Andreson is the producer.
Fun fact: Yes, Darla in Finding Dory is named after producer Darla Anderson!
Why is the movie named Coco?
Yes, this is a burning question. Lee Unkich shared:“You go into a theatre and you don’t quite know what it means or who it is but very early on you discover that Coco is Miguel’s great grandmother and kind of in the spirit of connection to family and remembrance. She’s the oldest person in this family and as such kind of the keeper of those stories and the keeper of the memories and we thought she kind of really symbolized the spirit of a lot of the themes of our film”. To that, Adrain Molina added: “she seems to play a minor role in the story but you haven’t all seen the whole movie yet so all I’ll say is I think Coco earns and deserves having the movie named after her”. It seems there are lots of secrets in the movie, so we do need to make a point of discovering them on November 11th when it is out in theaters everywhere!
Challenges Making Coco
The film makers agree that the biggest challenge is creating the story itself. Darla K. Anderson stated by telling us that figuring out a story, adding the intricacies of it and then pulling it all together is never easy. Adrian Molina continues: “It’s always a process of creation and revision, creation, and revision and sometimes the hardest part is really great ideas that you put in early on that you fall in love with and then maybe the story gets to a place where that idea no longer can exist in the same place that it started in and so as storytellers we kind of have to have the courage to let stuff go that we really love to make room for new stuff.” I believe Lee Unkich statement on this point speaks volumes: ” Adrian as the writer on the movie had a big job on his shoulders because when you see the finished film, hopefully, you’ll appreciate that it was quite a balancing act writing this story. Because there are a lot of moving pieces and there are a lot of misdirects and secrets throughout the movie that we have to be careful about when we’re giving information and that made things very complex at times. Yet, still tell what’s essentially a pretty complicated story in a relatively short amount of time.” He goes on: ” When you stop back and look at the story it’s a relatively simple story at face value. But we set on this grand stage of this adventure and this trip to the land of the dead. Through this whole process it’s been a real balancing act of how to tell our simple emotional funny story but also produce a film that as you’ll see is very, very grand in its scope and that translated to quite a bit of work. I think it’s the most visually complex movie I think we’ve made at Pixar, I think it’s safe to say.”
Fun fact: Dia de los muertos o dia de muertos? There is no wrong way to say it. It just depends on the region, the tradition. Language is ever changing and it is reflected in Coco as well. Both ways are included in the film depending on the character that says it.
What was Surprising about Mexico?
With all the research trips the team had, we wondered if they learned anything about Mexican culture that was surprising, or changed their views about the country. There is so much heart in Coco and Adrian Molina lays it out for us when he said that from the beginning, this story came from a love of Mexico, so it was all about sharing that love: “Wanting to create this love letter to Mexico that was really important to us. So if anything I think it only reaffirmed how much we love and appreciate the culture and the people and the traditions that come from the beautiful country”. Lee Unkich was surprised at how differently the Day of the Dead is celebrated throughout the country, even from town to town. This in turn translates into the depth and richness of the celebration to him.
Fun fact: Coco will have its world wide premiere in the Film Festival of Morelia in Mexico! Yes, there is a Spanish version of Coco available for Latin America.
A Rich Cultural Movie Made Universal
While the movie is culturally authentic and specific, at heart it speaks a universal language we can all relate to. It is clear when Adrian Molina says:”It’s definitely about family, almost first and foremost. The idea of family and tradition is infused in the film. It’s also very much a film about following your passions and making choices in life and pursuing dreams versus, maybe, just saying what your family wants for you or what they think is best for you and I think that’s something that a lot of people can relate to.” Darla K. Anderson tells us next that:” All of our films we want to just so entertain and bring audiences, immerse them in this other world and immerse them in a grand adventure and I think that’s universal too”. Lee Unkich illustrates for us:” A lot of the people who work at Pixar are artists and some of them are like me where they come from families that really support that and always said you can do this, go for it, we support you. But then, a lot of them also came from situations where art was an impractical career path or maybe geographically it took them far away from their family and people had to make decisions it. I think being able to chart your own path in the context of wanting to be connected to your family is something that is very universal across cultures, across experiences and following your passion. Everyone can understand that”.
Fun fact: De Los Muertos is about never forgetting those who came before us
The passion and love in creating Coco shine through easily from the film makers. While I am not Mexican, I had goosebumps and was happy that there is so much care in getting us curious for the people in our world. I am embracing the Dia de Los Muertos whole heartedly and exploring it with my family.
Do you know about the day of the dead? Any plans to celebrate it this year? I would totally recommend doing so with Coco this November 22nd!