Clements & Musker Go Deeper into Princess and the Frog
JM: It was a tremendous experience. He's a filmmaker and a director and he's known us and I went to school with him at CalArts, so we really spoke the same language. We had a short-hand and we never had to worry about the roughness of the presentation. He could take a rough story sketch and envision a color scene there. And it was invaluable that he brought the experience that he had. Again, he draws the analogy that it's like a pair of comfortable shoes. You push them to the back of the closet and you pull them out and put them on and you wonder why you haven't worn them again lately.
RC: Yeah, I don't even think there was an awareness until John came to Disney that The Frog Prince had been developed over a period of time by both studios. And then it was certainly John's idea to set it in New Orleans.
BD: Now that it's finished, what do you think you've achieved?
JM: Aside from the fact that she's African-American, I think we broke some ground with her approach and having a princess with a career. And I think it's been fun for us to go back and do a musical. We're both fans of musicals and love the way it can interact with animation in telling a story. We feel like there's an innate appeal to it and we both enjoy getting involved with it.
RC: You know, you work on these things for quite a while and you lose objectivity. The first time you see it fresh is the first time you preview it. The first time we previewed this movie was last May, actually, in a fairly unfinished form but it was basically the movie that it is now. And we previewed for a very diverse audience that was a mixture of African-Americans and non-African-Americans and it scored very high and everyone reacted pretty much identically, as did children, and that's really gratifying because that's what he intended.
BD: How have you both matured as directors as a result of this experience?
RC: There was a rough patch for hand-drawn animation and a rough patch for us and I would say there is value in rough patches.
JM: You don't get complacent; you can't afford to take anything for granted. I think we saw with John that we would contribute ways of finding warmth and emotion in small ways on the film.
BD: What in particular?