Mark Dindal's Place in the Sun
(continued from page 8)

Dindal relates the backgrounds of Peter Pan to an empty stage waiting for actors to perform. © Walt Disney Pictures. All rights reserved.

MD: Perhaps when you see more of the style of the backgrounds. Peter Pan was an influence in terms of the brighter colors we're using, and in what we call the 'pool of light' look. It's very theatrical -- they've lit the set for the place where the character is going to perform. When you look at the backgrounds without the characters, they feel like an empty stage waiting for the actors to come on.

Character design-wise, all the characters were designed by Joe Moshier, who was very influenced by the later years of Milt Kahl [directing animator and character designer on Disney's Sleeping Beauty and The Sword in the Stone]. There was a sense of having a straight look and not an all-round, curved kind of design. He touched all the characters, even the smallest and most insignificant walk-ons. He did them all and it looks really nice to have them have that angled look.

JS: I understand there aren't any songs in the body of the movie.

MD: Sting is still in the film -- he has a ballad over the closing credits that's about the friendship, the relationship between Pacha and Kuzco. He also wrote the song that Tom Jones sings at the beginning and at the end that bookends the movie and describes the character's transformation.

JS: You're talking about his emotional transformation as opposed to his physical one. But there aren't songs or production numbers throughout the course of the film; there hasn't been a song-free Disney cartoon since The Rescuers Down Under in 1990.

MD: If you don't count the Pixar films.

JS: I'm talking about the traditionally animated features. Were there any qualms about that?

MD: They definitely were aware that they had played that hand quite a bit, and they wanted to move into different areas using music. But the music's very important. Everyone realizes the value of music, and the emotional potential of having strong music in a movie, so I don't think music will ever be completely absent. It's just too valuable. So I think you'll see different applications of music and songs in the next movies that are coming up.

JS: The idea of someone turning into a llama reminds me of Lampwick's donkey transformation in Pinocchio; was that an influence?

MD: We definitely looked at that. That was much more of a horror moment; this is played for the comedy. Kuzco's completely unaware that he's changing. He continues to be the arrogant insensitive person that he is. He's just babbling on about something, completely oblivious to the fact that the other two characters are watching him and realizing something very strange is happening.

JS: In Saludos Amigos Donald Duck has a run-in with a llama...

MD: Yeah, we saw that too. What I really liked in that film was the way they caricatured the South American landscape. Some of our people who went down there said it's not caricatured all that much; it's a very dramatic landscape with breathtaking mountain shapes. I wanted to get that impact -- not to represent anything completely photo-realistically, but to have a sense of how, in your imagination, it seems to be; to create that heightened reality that you see when you go to Disneyland or Disney World. It's the way it looks, but it's better.

JS: You feel good about the film.

MD: Yeah I do. As we finish it up we've been listening to the score that's being composed by John Debney. As I was saying earlier, it's amazing what an effect music has upon the picture. It really helps the audience know how they're supposed to feel, because music certainly gives you that cue. The pieces that we've heard either create such dramatic weight or emotional weight, or they let me know its okay to laugh at this point, that Kuzco's being mean but you're supposed to be amused by it and not appalled by it.

It's really fun to watch because we had a terrific scratch score on the movie, but when you get somebody who's really tailor-making it for the movie itself with a 90-piece orchestra, boy what a jump it is -- it feels like a film. Movie music sounds a certain way and does a certain thing.


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