Oscar 2012: Pixar’s Enrico Casarosa and Kevin Reher Talk La Luna
DS: Let’s jump ahead to La Luna. Where did the story idea originate?
EC: I would say it came from two basic ingredients. One was finding an emotional, personal story. I looked at my youth growing up in Italy, in Genoa, with my dad and my grandfather, who lived with us. The two of them never quite got along and I always felt a little bit in the middle of those two strong personalities.
Being the boy that’s feeling the pressure from both of them was something that I thought of trying to explore. So, I put that together with something that was more about the things I love in movies and in literature, more of the fantastic. Specifically for La Luna two influences I always mention are Antoine Saint-Exupery with his wonderful Little Prince and the writings of Italo Calvino, an Italian writer who masterfully weaves together stories that are at once mundane and surreal. So I thought of representing those three generations in a very fantastic setting. I have always loved the moon and I thought it would be really great to invent my own myth about what the moon is. Why is it bright, why does it change shape, you know? Those are the things that came together at the inception of the idea.
At Pixar, when you start thinking about pitching some shorts, you start talking to development, which is, of course, headed by Kevin. And we have – we call them the development ladies - there are three ladies, Mary, Karen and Kiel, who I think are the greatest for just listening and giving some good feedback.
You start pitching ideas to them and developing ideas with them. You hear what’s working, what’s not, and you slowly build three ideas for an eventual pitch. Given that I’m a story artist, I wanted the pitch to be very visual. I made beat boards, fully kid’s book-like, with small illustrations of the key moments.
Out of the three we pitched, John really reacted to this specific one. It was certainly my favorite. From there it was really about figuring out when the production could happen, and get ready to produce it.
DS: Kevin, How did this project come on your radar and how is the decision made that “this is the film we’re going to move forward with”?
KR: At one time, we have at least five or six people who I want to pitch ideas for a short film to John, and one tends to rise to the top. [This time] it was clearly La Luna; we changed almost nothing from the beginning, what actually came out.
When we presented, John said, “Of the three ideas I like this one the best and yes, go make it.” Then we got a budget together. This film was sort of the gauntlet that had been thrown down by finance to say, “This is a simple elegant little short film, let’s try to do it for a reasonable amount of money,” and so we did. It wasn’t like Day & Night where we had to find 2D animators and clean-up people, and it wasn’t like Partly Cloudy, which had rolling clouds and talking clouds and lots of little characters and stuff. It worked with only two sets and three characters, so it stayed very confined
DS: Even though you say that it may have been simpler than Day & Night or Partly Cloudy, I’m sure it wasn’t simple to make. Can you walk us through the production? What were some of the main challenges?
EC: After being simply elated, I sat down and started storyboarding the whole thing. I didn’t have the idea 100% figured out in my mind. But I had a simpler version of the storyboards in my head and I knew exactly what to do with it.