Looking Into the Eyes of La Luna with Enrico Casarosa #DisneyPixarEvent
In April, I had the opportunity to attend the Brave press event with a feature of the upcoming short film release – La Luna. I have three words to describe my reaction to this short film – I LOVED IT!!! The expressions in the little boy’s eyes were full of emotion and curiosity. And I LOVED the clinking sound of the stars! La Luna is heartwarming and full of feeling, even with no words!
At the press event, we had an opportunity to sit down to a round table discussion with the director of La Luna, Enrico Casarosa. He was so sweet and full of expression himself! Here are some questions from the discussion:
Q: How long did the short take to create and is it your own story, or is it inspired from something?
The short film took about nine months to produce. Enrico said that there were a lot of inspirations behind La Luna…..it was his story, based on experiences from his own life. The core of the inspiration stems from his dealings with his dad and grandfather during childhood. His grandmother passed away and he and his father moved in with his grandfather. It was a small house and his dad and grandfather weren’t getting along. Enrico said that if you went back twenty five years ago to the kitchen table with the family of three, it would have been a lot like the interactions in the film. Enrico felt like he was always stuck in the middle. He had two men telling him different ways to do things and he had to find his own path.
Another source of inspiration was Saint Exupery in The Little Prince, which he loved as a child. In The Little Prince, there is a cute little prince on a very small planet. Enrico was fascinated that there was a place where you could walk around in a minute.
Hayao Miyazaki was also another inspiration for La Luna. He is a huge influence on the work of Enrico Casarosa. Enrico said that he loves his work and that there is this “kind of wonderful, kind of surreal, fantastic with very real small details.”
The last inspiration is Italo Calvino. Italo is an Italian writer that he read growing up. Enrico described it as “very surreal work and he had one story which had a ladder to the moon. And in that story, specifically, they were…..I think getting milk from the moon, and it’s got me thinking, wouldn’t it be fun to kinda come up with my own strange child-like myth of what someone could be.” “How does the moon work?…..There’s also shorts like ‘Grand Day Out’ from Wallace and Gromit….in which the moon is made of cheese. I always find that kind of amusing, you know. And so that got me thinking, and I thought, couldn’t there be janitors? The family business is janitorial moon, cleanup, and that slowly got to, uh, well, what could they be sweeping? And then stars came in my mind, and I was like, oh, maybe they could be sweeping stars. But if they’re sweeping them, maybe they’re making….the phases of the moon.”
Q : Talk about gibberish. Did you make a conscious decision to not have a language?
Enrico answered saying this: “I grew up with this wonderful…cartoon called La Linea, which is an Italian…animation in which there was this character that was made out of one line, and he was talking this crazy language. But it was very Italian. It was, like, [imitating Italian expressiveness], and you would know exactly what he is feeling. You didn’t know what he was saying, of course, but it had a flavor that was distinctively Italian, and I knew that I wanted gesticulating animation, so I thought wouldn’t it be great to still have that….flavor.”
“At first, actually, some of the feedback we got, yeah, you might not need it, just put some music on it. So we had to fight to keep it. It took us a while to prove it….probably because I was doing the gibberish in the story reels with the….editor, and it was pretty bad, you know. They’re like, it’s kinda annoying, and I was like, well, that’s because I’m doing it. Let’s get some performers…..gibberish is a real art. We tried….many different way and we had to tone it down. If you put too much words, it sounds, it’s a little distracting.”
“So we found that we toned it down a little bit, it was a little, sometimes it’s more about, huh [GRUFFLY]than [GIBBERISH], you know, less, more about attitude and less about actual language. And then we found performers that really embodied the characters. We found our grandpa, seventy-five year old….performer….that’s a storyteller, here in the area that was really, you know, y- you, when he came in, he asked me if I wanted to do the takes with his teeth, and he took out his teeth, or without my teeth. So he was really a grandpa guy, y- you know. So it was kind of a funny…moment.”
“But, and then the same thing for Dad, we found a big, uh, Tony Fucile’s our dad an- and he’s an amazing animator who’s been at Pixar many years. He’s now doing kid’s books…..amazing artists and a big papa, and, and, you could feel it, you know. When we had tried, you know, it would be always someone who was forty years old trying to sound like a seventy year old, so it was, it took us just a little bit to get there, and finally we convinced John Lassiter…to keep him. And I, I thought he, the story needed it so that you would feel that spirit, a little more of the pressure that these guys, uh, are putting on, on this little guy, you know.”
Q : What is the process like to make a short?
Enrico said, “Yeah, the process really doesn’t change. The…difference is that you have much, a much smaller crew. So one specific artist has a little more to do, so you try and cover more…within your….abilities. Like I am a director, but I storyboarded the whole thing, while normally, you would have a story team. The same way, I did some mapping things for the stars in the background or, you know, you really have the smaller team, so those limitations become an interesting thing.”
“It’s really ultimately really fun because you’re tighter, there’s less people you’re dealing with, you feel you, you can make changes quicker, um, and you have a lot of camaraderie being so small, a little smaller. So I, as an experience, it’s extremely fun. I mean, you feel very privileged to kinda, every day you see a little piece of the puzzle coming together, and so it’s really fun. But yeah, the process is the same, you know, layout, from story you go to layout, layout, you, of course, have to build all these virtual puppets and sets and then slowly…give them texture….and you know, we specifically looked for a different look for this short.”
“I really brought a lot of actual material and traditional watercolor paintings. We scanned them and put them on the…on our geometry. I…think I was looking for warmth…that sometimes a computer can take away a little bit, and imperfection. You know, the computer is very good at making quite precise, slightly colder things. So we brought a lot of man-made imperfection, and…because it kinda, I thought, I thought it would support this more fable-like story, that it’s a little more like a kid’s book kind of world.”
“And then, you know, after that….we animate it fully…the animators do these wonderful performances. They’re our actors, and then….we put in kind of our cloth and all the grooming. You’ve probably…heard a lot about the amazing cloth in Brave. On our shorts we’d never have the latest technology. We were on Toy Story 3 technology, so I was very jealous of Brave and their beautiful, flowing cloth and hair. Hair was a little hard for us because we needed moving mustaches and beard.”
“But we made it out and….and then lighting is kinda your finishing touches where you really are kind of putting the colors and, and the details that you want, you know, for the finished image. Yeah, it’s really wonderful. Quite, quite time intensive and lot of specialization in, in our, in our industry.”
Be sure to check out La Luna in theaters on June 22nd as it opens up for the upcoming release of Brave!!!