Just a few short months ago, I was invited to visit Pixar Animation Studios to get a sneak peek at Inside Out and Lava (including interviews with the directors and producers). When the van turned into the lot we all spotted the Pixar gates. We had to jump out and take photos! Typical bloggers, we all had our cameras ready and starting taking photos.
Not everybody gets to go through these gates, but I joined 24 other amazing bloggers onto the Pixar property. As we walked around the corner we spotted the iconic Pixar lamp.
The Pixar lamp is located in front of The Steve Jobs Building. We entered this building for a little shopping, lunch, and our interviews/viewing of the movie clips.
When you walk into the building you will immediately fall in love with the decor…it’s all about the characters! You will run into Sulley, Mike, Woody, Buzz, Luigi and Guido.
We headed into the screening room were we meet Producer Andrea Warren and Director James Ford Murphy of the animated Pixar short: LAVA. Andrea and James just returned from the Film Festivals and were excited to talk to us about LAVA. Andrea joked that we “may feel inspired to take a Hawaiian Vacation and we will not be held responsible for that.”
James began by telling us about the steps of how you can pitch ideas for Short Films. Anyone can pitch, but you can’t just pitch one idea, you have to pitch 3 ideas. James has been at Pixar for 19 years and he wanted to “reach out and try something,” so he pitched 3 ideas. His one rule for himself is that if he would only create stories about things that he really, really loved and things that he connect with emotionally.
“And ever since I was a kid, I’ve had this tremendous fascination with Hawaii and Volcanoes as I think most kids do. And I think it was, I was a huge Elvis Presley Fan and I think Elvis had a fascination with Hawaii and I was exposed to that but it wasn’t until my wife and I got married and we went to the big island for our Honeymoon that I really fell in love with Hawaii, Volcanoes, and particularly Hawaiian Music.
And probably about 15 years ago, my wife and I were watching an episode of “ER” that featured a very recognizable song that I had heard and knew from the “Wizard of Oz” but I’d never heard a more hauntingly beautiful rendition of this song, it literally floored me. And I’d go, who – who is this? It just blew my mind and the more – the more I uncovered it, I could believe the power and the beauty of that song. So then when it came time for me to come up with an idea for a Short Film I thought, well I have this love of Volcanoes and this love of Hawaii and Hawaiian Music, what if I could write a song that makes me feel the way that that song did when I first heard it and feature it in a Pixar Short.”
This prompted James to develop an idea, plot a story, an pitch LAVA to Pixar. He even wrote the song that is featured in the film. Every time he pitched the idea, he would sing and play the Ukelele…and he began to sing the first few verses of his song, including the chorus.
“A long, long time ago, there was a Volcano living all alone, I never did see. He sat high above his bay watching all the couples play and wishing that he had someone too. And from his lava came this song of hope that he sang out loud every day for years and years. I have a dream I hope will come true that you’re here with me and I’m here with you. I hope that the Earth, Sea, and Sky up above will send me someone to love.”
For one year, all James did was listen to Hula music. He wanted the song to be sung by traditional Hawaiian singers. He searched and listened to “every single Singer that was available in Hawaii and in doing so, I found out about a Music Festival and an Awards Festival. It’s called the Noku Hana Awards, and it’s the Grammy Awards of Hawaiian Music and it’s held every May in Honolulu. And when I learned about it, it was right around the time that Andrea came on, and I said we have to go because every single person I’m interested in is gonna be there and this would be our opportunity to see, meet, and hear all of these wonderful Musicians.”
They left there with two Musicians: Juan Heles Vehele from Jilo and Napula Grey from Maui. They also left with a “new understanding and this new responsibility that dealt with this tremendous culture and this sense of Aloha that they speak of, and this sense of family, and this sense of place. And all these things were like Oh My God, can we get all these things into the Film?”
LAVA is amazing…I lava it and you will too!
LAVA is the Pixar Short that will play in front of Inside Out. In theaters June 19th!
Like INSIDE OUT on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PixarInsideOut
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You can read my interview with the Inside Out Director & Producer.
Disclosure: I was 1 of 25 bloggers to attend an all-expense paid trip to the San Francisco area courtesy of Disney. All opinions, excitement, and smiles are my own.