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The directors of Zootopia sit down for an interview

Posted on: by Kate
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Disclosure: Our interview sessions were part of the Disney hosted #ZootopiaEvent press junket. While all expenses were paid, opinions are always 100% my own.

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As an animation enthusiast I am always so excited to get to meet the filmmakers behind Disney’s latest animated film.  Today I am sharing about the interview with the directors of Zootopia.  Byron Howard and Rich Moore were kind enough to sit down and share with our group at the beautiful Animal Kingdom Lodge and talk about what went into making Walt Disney Picture’s 55th animated feature film.

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It was really special to interview the producers of Zootopia at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge because it is literally where the film making began for Zootopia!  Once Zootopia was cleared for take off by John Lasseter, Disney’s Animal Kingdom was one of the first stops for artists, directors, and producers.  They mentioned meeting for the press junket at the same place things really began was like a nice ‘book end’ to the project…. “Circle of Life” to quote another Disney film you may be familiar with. 😉

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While they did start their research on Disney property eventually 14 film makers did make the journey to Africa.  While it is not uncommon for filmmakers to be sent to far off places for research, they said that Africa was unique…

Byron Howard said “But Africa, for me, I had never been any place that kinda changed you down to your core. Because you’re stepping into an environment that has been the same for 40,000 years. And I’d only been to zoos where I’d seen like two zebra at a time. And then just, you know, 30 feet away from us were 200 zebra. Or 50,000 wildebeest. 100,000 wildebeest….. And just to see nature, like full on nature right there. Uh, it really made us feel like, okay, if we’re gonna do this movie, we’re gonna do it right. ”

NATURAL ENEMIES — Zootopia's first bunny officer Judy Hopps finds herself face to face with a fast-talking, scam-artist fox in Walt Disney Animation Studios' "Zootopia." Featuring the voices of Ginnifer Goodwin as Judy and Jason Bateman as Nick, "Zootopia" opens in theaters on March 4, 2016. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

They also spoke of the great legacy of anthropomorphic animals in Disney animated films.  It was so cool to hear the directors of Zootopia speak with such fondness of some of my favorites – Robin Hood and The Jungle Book.  Nobody does animals walking on two legs quite like Disney.  They were thrilled to take that same concept and now use the incredible advancements with Computer animation.  While the animation from decades ago was brilliantly executed, things can now be done with textures and hair and environments that were not possible back then.

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When asked about how the film speaks about strong subjects like diversity, tolerance, and acceptance, Rich Moore said the following about keeping the film still light, understandable, and palatable for little ones.

“Well, I think it was very important to us that this wasn’t just an adult movie. That it was playing on some kinda lofty level that- that a child would be like, ‘I’m not getting this at all. I don’t relate to it.’  It was important to us that Judy’s kind of journey and character was something a a child could relate to.”

He spoke of a scene where Judy Hopps is bullied as a child and says

“Unfortunately, I think that all of us have had those moments. Some more than others. But- but it’s relatable. So, that’s- that’s why we chose to have that happen to her as a child.”

They agreed that they wanted Zootopia to be a story that spoke to both adults and children and worked on different levels – even with it’s sometimes quite serious and timely theme.

Fun fact :  When asked which animal was the hardest to make walk on two legs, they both agreed that an Armadillo is a complicated little being to dress up and have walk upright.

Thank you so much to the directors of Zootopia; Byron Howard and Rich Moore for taking the time to share with our group!Zootopia opens in theaters on March 4th – I know I have shared the trailer before – but if you haven’t watched it (and even if you have!) you gotta click and enjoy!  The directors said that this scene in particular resonates with test audiences all over the globe and at all different ages – nobody could believe the ‘bit’ hadn’t been done before! Enjoy!

*All photos are by Disney and used with permission.*

Until Next Time ~ Kate
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