Q & A with Directors of ZOOTOPIA ~ Rich Moore and Byron Howard ~ moderated by MAX FOIZEY of MAX ON MOVIES -FM NEWs Talk 97.1


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Audience Q & A with Directors of ZOOTOPIA – Rich Moore and Byron Howard

Moderated by Max Foizey of MAX ON MOVIES – FM News Talk 97.1 – St. Louis

Having grown up with the “Animated Magic” that Disney is known for, I was super excited to sit in on the Q & A at Wehrenberg Ronnies 20 Cine’ with Directors Rich Moore and Byron Howard who ~ for the last five years ~ have been working to bring Disney’s new animated MASTERPIECE ~ ZOOTOPIA to life…and who graciously took questions from the audience after the advanced screening in St. Louis ~

Q: From a Creative standpoint ~ in trying to make a film that is as enjoyable for adults as for the “little ones”…in the creative process do you purposely start off with that in mind?

A: Rich Moore: I don’t think that we purposely doing it…we work at a place where we are trying to make entertainment for everyone – that’s not just a slogan or a saying ~ That’s REAL FOR US. And we do that because those are the things we liked as kids. Those are the things I like as an adult that I can enjoy my kids. We never want to exclude anyone from our entertainment. We want to be inclusive in the comedy, in the drama. We don’t want to make it too scary for the little kids, but we want it to be thrilling enough that an adult or a teenager feels that they are getting their monies worth. So, it’s very important to us, but nobody has to say to us “make sure to put in something for everyone”, because it’s just something we do naturally…


Q: How many total savage animals are in the film?

A: Byron Howard: This seems more like a trivia question…but I think there are 15 in the movie.


Q: Are you using Emmitt Otter’s name in the movie on purpose with the character Emmitt Otterman?

A: Byron Howard: Yes, if anyone remembers Jim Henson’s Emmitt Otter’s Jug band Christmas –with the funny porcupines? Well, yes, this is an omage to Jim Henson, which we love and we know a lot of muppeteers too. We just got to meet the person who voices Gonzo the GREAT a couple of weeks ago, and it was a very exciting finally meeting him…


Q: Tangled is one of my favorite movies…Are their any plans to do a sequel?

A: Rich Moore: Great question? You know the Director of the movie is right here – pointing to Byron…

Byron Howard: I know we are doing a television series for sure. The question is what do you do once you cut off her hair, but we are working through that process in the television version of the story…so stay tuned…


Q: What inspired you both to start filmmaking?

A: Rich Moore: I was inspired very, very early in my life, when I was about 5 years old, when I saw the movie Jungle Book, in a theater just like this back home in Southern California. And I was so moved by it – I thought it was funny, I thought it was thrilling, I loved the music, I loved the experience with my whole family being there – at that young age – I want more of THIS?? I didn’t know how that did that, in making the movie…I just knew I wanted to be a part of however that great movie came to be…

A: Byron Howard: and for me, I wanted to be a film maker was when I went to a movie called STAR TREK ~ THE MOTION PICTURE with my dad – he was a big Star Trek fan – and there is a scene where James T Kirk is in a shuttle coming towards the Enterprise, and the music was flowing on a huge, huge screen at the John Dance in Seattle, and I was overwhelmed by this scene, I decided I HAVE TO DO THAT – Films are amazing …and just like Rich was like this was Jungle Book, that is when I get THE BUG – and I think that is what a lot of people do, you see something you love and you decide you want to do that…and you figure out a way to make it happen…we work with thousands of people in film – writers, cinematographers, animators, and its exciting and we all geek out ~ yes we ARE GEEKS and we geek out about all this stuff…


Q: What is the best and most difficult thing about directing an animated movie?

A: Rich Moore: The BEST THING – Like Byron said, is we get to work with hundreds of people, and getting to form relationships with them as an artist working with other artists is awesome, getting to witness what other people bring to the table. Each film starts out as a small idea, just two or three people working through development and production to start with, and it builds into hundreds of people, and hundreds of friendships with all the people you meet in the process of watching this little idea grow into what you saw tonight.

THE TOUGHEST PART? – Finishing up the movie – they are almost like our babies, and at some point our child has to go out in to the world, on its’ own two feet and make it on its own ~ which is really hard…


Q: You said earlier that someone in your crew wears Hawaiian shirts all the time…is that why Nic has a Hawaiian shirt on???

A: Byron Howard: That’s a great question? Maybe we did that…. subconsciously. The person we were talking about was John Lassiter – our boss at Disney – and that is what he lives in – he has more Hawaiian shirts than there are seats in this theater. He is the KING OF HAWAIIAN SHIRTS. Maybe that did sink in from seeing him all the time, and it stuck in our head, and that’s why we put Nic in a Hawaiian shirt…


Q: How is it different directing animation that directing a live film?

A: Byron Howard: What Rich and I do is look over the whole crew – like 800 people – and we have to kind of keep the big picture in mind as everyone is working on their little detailed parts. We have people that are cinematographers, and groomers ~ who are actually are working putting fur on the characters ~ and animators who are actually animating a scene, and Rich and I are constantly going back and forth to meeting after meeting and we are helping everybody get to the same place. And the nice thing is that, we don’t have to do it alone – its not just us making the whole film by ourselves – we are making the film as a team. It’s a BIG COMMUNITY OF PEOPLE and we listen to everybody. Everybody feels like it’s THEIR FILM – they feel like Nic and Judy are their characters and any time some has a good idea we listen, and that’s how we make the films better, because we make them TOGETHER. And it is a GREAT JOB! We get to listen to academy award winnibg composers like Michael Giacchino, and we got to go to the sound stage and hear a hundred piece orchestra record the score, and then we got to be in Barcelona when Shakira records the song for the film, and then, we get to come to St. Louis and get the opportunity to talk with all of you, which is exciting too. Sometimes it’s a tough job, but we love doing it!!!

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