Oscar 2012: Pixar’s Enrico Casarosa and Kevin Reher Talk La Luna
[Of the three we pitched], this one was fuller, had more to it, and I think the choice to do it is to John’s credit. There was a little bit of figuring out, sort of “Okay how do you make this work?” One of the first challenges was trying to figure out this language, this made up gibberish that I really wanted these characters to have. We always do the scratch voice, and it was me and the editor playing the two characters, trying to make up this [nonsense language]. People were not sold on the idea right away, but I grew up with a lot of great cartoons that had gibberish, and I thought it could have a great flavor, that it would go very well with that specifically Italian way of gesticulating.
So, we did a bit of searching, we tried a few different people. Things were still not quite working out. Then, we finally found [actors] that embodied these guys, like Tony Fucile, who is the voice for our Papa. And he’s a big Papa, really feels like the guy. We found out he’s also a gifted improviser of gibberish!
Then, for Grandpa, we did a few tests and we found a wonderful 75-year old that, again, felt like the real person. The first time he came in, he said, “you want it with teeth or without teeth?” And he proceeded to take his teeth out! And we were like, “Oh my god, let’s try it without teeth.” So, the gibberish finally worked.
One of [the challenges was] was that we usually try and do shorts that are a certain length. Throughout the production this short got longer and longer and longer. I was very thankful to Kevin for standing behind me on that. We started with story reels which were 4:40 and we have a 6:51 short. But I really felt that it needed time to breathe. And luckily we were able to still do it, still within the same price. We were proud of that.
DS: Are the longer shots easier to do?
EC: Yes. And the pacing was such that the amount of shots was actually relatively short. I think we have 71 shots. There are shorter [films] that have more shots.
DS: Looking back at when you started Day & Night versus starting on La Luna, do you inherently know that one film is going to be much easier than the other, or do these things become apparent only when production starts rolling?
KR: With Partly Cloudy, for instance, we had people in the technical world who said, we need at least a year of R&D, we’re never going to be able to do this. We managed to do it because we found a guy who had done clouds as his PHD at Cal and got him in to consult.
Day & Night was tough just from the standpoint that it had 2D and we’re not known for our 2D work. We had to find animators and cleanup people that could do that kind of work, because most of our animators are trained in CG.
With La Luna, I think the biggest challenge was trying to get the right team together. We had Dan McCoy who is the supervising tech and he is a shader maven. He was really awesome for the look and the feel. We got Justin Pearson who did the sound, and he was awesome. We were lucky to pull in people from the art world, like borrowing Robert Kondo. That’s the hardest part, trying to get a team to work on the short films at any given point because everybody has a full-time job somewhere else.
EC: Yeah, before being pulled by some production.
KR: Yeah, so we’d get two weeks of Robert Kondo, who did some character designing. And then, we’d get a month of Dice [Daisuke Tsutsumi] who would come in and do some paintings, and Bill Cone who did the color script. That’s it, you kind of beg, borrow and steal, that’s probably the biggest challenge. Because it’s not like there is just a bunch of people sitting around waiting to come work on your short.