What Makes Disney Pixar Coco so Special? #PixarCocoEvent

Posted on: August 28th, 2017 by

I was honored to be invited to the #PixarCocoEvent, a Disney Pixar press junket for Disney Pixar Coco and THE LION KING Blu-ray/Digital HD release. As a guest, my expenses were covered in return for a series of articles about my experiences.

 

What Makes Disney Pixar Coco so Special-#PixarCocoEvent

 

Earlier this August, I had the honor of sitting down with the team behind Disney Pixar Coco. It was a fascinating few days of sit down discussions that included a preview of part of the Disney Pixar Coco movie, a make and take craft session, and workshops that focused on different aspects of this new Pixar film that pays tribute to Día de los Muertos. Through all those meetings one thing became very clear Disney Pixar Coco is going to be a very special movie for all families when it hits theaters this November. In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing stories about:

  1. On September 19, 2017, I help introduce you to what is Dia de los Muertos, its history, and significance, including fun facts about the story of Coco.
  2. On October 2, 2017, I’ll share why skeletons are so important to the Mexican culture and how the skeletons in Coco were animated.
  3. On October 17, 2017, you’ll learn about Alebrijes and see photos of my own Alebrijes I made during a make-and-take session at the press junket.
  4. On November 2, 2017, we’ll talk about the music of Mexico and how it was so instrumental in creating the music of Coco.
  5. Then on November 22, 2017, we’ll celebrate with one last post to celebrate the opening day of Disney Pixar Coco.

 

For today, I wanted to share with you some details from the press conference with Coco director Lee Unkrich, writer and co-director Adrian Molina and producer Darla K. Anderson. I think you’ll agree that Disney Pixar Coco is going to be a special must-see family movie this fall.

 

Take a look at the Disney Pixar Coco movie trailer

 

What makes Disney Pixar Coco so special?

During our press conference with Coco director Lee Unkrich, writer and co-director Adrian Molina and producer Darla K. Anderson, I along with other reporters asked questions not only about the making of Disney Pixar Coco but also the inspiration that went into the film. So much great information came out of that press conference. I wish I could share it all here. While I can’t, I will share with you the moments and answers that made this press conference a wonderful way for me to learn how special the Disney Pixar Coco movie is.

 

Before there was a story there was a movie inspired by a holiday

It was interesting to hear from Lee Unkrich, that even before he had a script there was a movie. Unkrich had this idea of a movie around the idea of Dia De Los Muertos. He pitched it to John (from Pixar) back in 2011. From there John was so intrigued by the idea, Unkrich was giving the approval to move forward. Unkrich said,

“It was a film that I had been developing before Toy Story 3 happened and then another new original idea and then this notion of doing a story set against the Dia De Los Muertos and immediately John sparked to the Dia De Los Muertos idea. This first story that we developed was completely different than what we ended up doing with Coco but John just was really excited about the notion of setting a story in this world. It felt unique to him.”

 

It was different than anything we’d done at the studio and so he — I wouldn’t say he greenlit the film because we didn’t have a story yet but he wanted us to forge ahead and develop that idea.

 

Disney Pixar Coco Press Conference August 2017

Director Lee Unkrich at “Coco” Long Lead Press Day, which included a filmmaker roundtable, presentations about the music, story, characters and set designs of the film, on August 3, 2017 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

 

The messages of the Disney Pixar Coco movie

At the core of Disney Pixar Coco movie is this idea of family. While we may have only seen 30 minutes of the Coco, we could see how important it is for Miguel’s family to be close as well as remember family members who are no longer with them. The team during the Disney Pixar Coco press conference shared the following messages with us that they wanted to be incorporated into the film.

 

Adrian Molina started, “It’s definitely about family, almost first and foremost the idea of family and tradition is going to be infused in the film but it’s also very much a film about following your passions and making choices in life and pursuing dreams versus just saying what your family wants for you or what they think is best for you.”

 

Lee Unkrich added talking about the team at Pixar and relating it to the story of Miguel in Coco. “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 about and reconcile with their families if this something that they could support. 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.”

 

Darla Anderson  rounded out the response stating what a lot of us look for in movies, “Lastly this film like all of our films we want to entertain and bring audiences, immerse them in this other world and immerse them in a grand adventure and I think that’s very universal too. Go into a film and escape into a whole new world and go along this journey with our protagonist and his companion.”

 

Disney Pixar Coco Press Conference August 2017

Co-Director Adrian Molina, Producer Darla K Anderson and Director Lee Unkrich at the “Coco” Long Lead Press Day, which included a filmmaker roundtable, presentations about the music, story, characters and set designs of the film, on August 4, 2017 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

 

How Coco is the title of the Disney Pixar Coco film

It had us all curious. Why is a movie that ‘seems’ so heavily focused on Miguel named Coco? Unkrich and Adrian both shared answers,

 

Unkrich said, “…this title it was kind of our working title for a while and there’s a certain mystery to it. 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.”

 

Adrian added, “And we also knew that people would be wondering why they named this movie after Miguel’s great grandmother because 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.” The rest is a secret, for now. ;-)

 

Disney Pixar Coco movie image

NO MUSIC – In Disney•Pixar’s “Coco,” which opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2017, aspiring musician Miguel challenges his family’s generations-old ban on music, spending time with a local mariachi. But his grandmother Abuelita promptly puts a stop to it. “Coco” features Lombardo Boyar as the voice of the mariachi, Renée Victor as the voice of Abuelita and Anthony Gonzelez as the voice of Miguel. ©2017 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

 

How the Coco directors decided to tell Miguel’s story

I read a number of children’s books about Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) in preparation for my #PixarCocoEvent press junket. It became clear to me that there are a number of ways a storyteller could create a story about Dia de los Muertos. I was curious what inspired this story angle and if there were others the directors and producers considered. When I asked the question Unkrich was thoughtful in his answer.

 

“Well I can tell you one little interesting tidbit which is why I mentioned that we had a whole different story that we developed before we settled on this story. That was interesting because that story which we pursued for a little while ended up there was a kid as the main character. But it ended up being a story about him dealing with his own grief and letting go of the grief that he had over somebody who had passed away. We realized after we’d been pursuing that story for a while that A, it was a bit heavy but also B, it was kind of the antithesis of what Dia De Los Muertos is all about.”

 

Disney Pixar Coco movie image

FAMILY REUNION – In Disney•Pixar’s “Coco,” aspiring musician Miguel (voice of Anthony Gonzalez) makes an impulsive choice that sets off a series of events that ultimately lands him in the Land of the Dead where he’s able to interact with his late family members, including Tía Rosita (voice of Selene Luna), Tía Victoria, Papá Julio (voice of Alfonso Arau), and Tío Oscar and Tío Felipe (both voiced by Herbert Siguenza). Disney•Pixar’s “Coco” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2017. ©2017 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

 

Unkrich continued, “I mean Dia De Los Muertos is about never forgetting. It’s about having this obligation to remember those who came before us and to pass their stories along and the story that we were originally developing was more of a western American kind of a perspective on grief. We realized that we needed to kind of build our story from the inside and really embrace the values and the traditions that Dia De Los Muertos as well as embrace the story that was not about death or dealing with death but was about life and was about family. That’s why we completely ripped everything down to the studs and started over and came up with the beginnings of what became Coco.”

 

Making a movie that’s authentic to the culture

Through our sessions and interviews, it became very obvious that the creators of the Disney Pixar Coco movie wanted to be very authentic to Mexico. Adrian Molina even said, “We wanted to approach this film with… in its very origination came from a love of Mexico and a real kind of affinity for the people and the culture.” As we mentioned earlier even without a storyline the team was given authority to move ahead with the planning. Within weeks of that approval, the team visited Mexico, arriving just a few weeks before Dia De Los Muertos, to embrace the culture and learn as much as they could.

 

Adrian Molina talked about how his own mom was very integral to getting all the facts straight. “She likes it as a reason to get a phone call. As we’re writing the film we wanted to infuse some of the language into the storytelling because that’s so much a part of the culture. As a screenwriter [we have to decide] when to use Spanish and when to use English. We wanted to try to use Spanish anytime where the meaning is kind of evident and even if you don’t speak the language you understand. Then also part of the process is working with our team in Mexico just to double and triple check all the language.”

 

Unkrich shared how they worked to keep even the signage in Coco authentic. “We made a choice early on that any and all signage the words would be in Spanish unless it was something where there was storytelling involved in that moment. In that case, those shots will be translated into different languages all over the world but because the bulk of it takes place in Mexico and it’s a Spanish speaking nation we wanted to have that authenticity.”

 

Anderson also commented on how their partnership with Disney helps. “We were so fortunate to work with Disney who has lots of folks who helped us make sure that we were getting it just right and consultants. The film was constantly evolving. A big part of the job of this film was just constantly checking and double checking.

 

Disney Pixar Coco movie image

THE LAND OF THE DEAD – In Disney•Pixar’s “Coco,” aspiring musician Miguel (voice of Anthony Gonzalez) finds himself in the Land of the Dead—a rich and vibrant community featuring bridges of marigold petals. Directed by Lee Unkrich, co-directed by Adrian Molina and produced by Darla K. Anderson, Disney•Pixar’s “Coco” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2017. ©2017 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

 

That Disney Pixar Coco is NOT the same movie as The Book of Life

There are not a lot of family friendly movies about the Hispanic culture, especially ones about the Land of the Dead. It’s only natural that there would be questions about the differences between the Disney Pixar Coco movie and The Book of Life movie. We did discuss that during the Disney Pixar Coco press conference.

 

Unkrich explained about the timing and presumed similarities, “In terms of Book of Life we were already way under way with this film before we were even aware that was happening. I was happy that it came out a few years before us and that we had the opportunity to see it and make sure that we were telling a story that was unique and different. I would have been much more nervous if we were coming out at the same time and I didn’t know anything about it. We’re confident that our film is a completely different story. I think it’s great that there are multiple stories kind of set in the same culture. We’ve since gotten to be good friends with Jorge Gutierrez who directed Book of Life and we were supportive of his film and he’s been very supportive of our film.

 

Disney Pixar Coco press conference

Co-Director Adrian Molina, Producer Darla K Anderson and Director Lee Unkrich at the “Coco” Long Lead Press Day, which included a filmmaker roundtable, presentations about the music, story, characters and set designs of the film, on August 4, 2017 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

 

The secrets in the Disney Pixar Coco movie that will have you watching it over and over

Unkrich shared with us that the Disney Pixar Coco movie is the most elaborate Pixar movie to date and Anderson agreed. There were layers of complexity to not only the effects and imagery in the movie but also within the stories of Miguel’s family and how the Mexican culture celebrates Dia de los Muertos. Sitting in on a session to learn how the Land of the Dead was lit up on screen or how to add clothes to a skeleton body so they hang correctly was amazingly intriguing. More details on that soon. It’s expected that there are going to be some secrets and of course Easter eggs in Disney Pixar Coco. One secret still under wraps, is who will be singing the Disney Pixar Coco movie soundtrack. Another is just how does grandma Coco become so important to the storyline. As far as Easter eggs in the Coco preview we saw, one of the bloggers noticed a certain pizza truck. If you are like us you’ll be watching Coco a few times this fall just to find them all.

 

Disney Pixar Coco movie image

MAGIC – When aspiring musician Miguel (voice of Anthony Gonzalez) finds himself in the Land of the Dead, all he needs to return to the Land of the Living is a blessing from a family member, a magical marigold petal and a promise he’s not sure he can make. Directed by Lee Unkrich, co-directed by Adrian Molina and produced by Darla K. Anderson, Disney•Pixar’s “Coco” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2017. ©2017 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

 

Disney Pixar COCO opens in theaters on November 22, 2017.

Click over to read more from our #PixarCocoEvent series

For more information about COCO visit the COCO Official Channels

 

Posted in: All, Family Entertainment, Family Friendly TV & Movies

Tagged as: , , , , , ,

Jennifer Auer is the hyperlocal mom blogger who runs Jersey Family Fun. From New Jersey, this mom of 3 boys just can’t sit still! Her husband likes to say she’s a work-at-home mom who never stays home. Jennifer started traveling as a child and hasn’t stopped since. Instead of letting her husband and boys slow her down, she brings them along! Did you know that boys behave better when they are out exploring? As her boys start to become teens there’s still so many places she wants to discover with them both across the U.S. and internationally. She has been a Jersey Girl for 20+ years, and a Jersey Mom for 8+ years and a New Jersey mom blogger for 7 years, although she'd much rather be referred to as an influencer or just by name. She has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a focus on Entrepreneurship from Bryant University in Rhode Island.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *