Moana Directors Interview: Ron Clements & John Musker

By 12/12/2016 12:08:00 PM ,

For the past 3 weekends Disney's MOANA has been #1 at the box office! Which, if you've seen the movie, you'll agree is well earned and so deserving thanks to the vision of some many people including Directors Ron Clements and John Musker.

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Note: Disney and ABC TV invited me on this all expense paid trip to Los Angeles for the Moana Event and ABC TV Event. While I will share different events and activities during the trip, any personal views expressed are always 100% my own.

But that's not the only awesomeness surrounding Disney's MOANA. It's been announced that it's been nominated for GOLDEN GLOBE Best Animated Feature Film. Congrats to Ron Clements and John Musker.

Moana Directors Interview: Ron Clements and John Musker

I'm so glad I had a chance to meet and interview them while in L.A. for the #MoanaEvent. Ron and John is the film making team behind some of my favorite Disney movies like “The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin,” and “The Princess & the Frog”. And now they have worked their Disney Magic for MOANA

Talking about the steps they took to respect Polynesian culture, while making MOANA, Ron and John shared

RON: The big thing we did was a huge research five years ago when we first pitched the movie. We spent like three weeks in Samoa, Fiji, Tahiti. We met with cultural ambassadors, linguists, anthropologists, Sailors and chiefs, etc

We learned about their connection to and the importance of respect for nature. Respect for the environment, the inter-connectedness, extended families and the idea of your heritage and your legacy.

JOHN: We got to sail in Fiji with navigators. Went to Tahiti for three weeks. We really try to connect with the culture and learn how proud they were of their background as the greatest navigators the world has ever seen.

We also kept people involved from the Pacific islands. We had an oceanic story trust that we bounced story ideas off including costume ideas and the way the characters looked throughout this process. We would Skype with them. They came out to visit sometimes.

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Sharing some of the ideas behind the Realm of Monsters, Ron and John said

RON: Undersea colors actually are so high key and Gooding, our production designer, said when we go below the sea there's that kind of phosphorescence that's down at the bottom of the ocean.

JOHN: And they're jumping off a giant cliff and going down under the ocean to a world in the ocean, which is from inspired mythology.

RON: There's other worlds that they thought of. And in fact, even when people die there's a myth that the next world is you jump off a cliff and you go to the bottom of the sea and there's a place which is sort of the realm of the underworld. In our case, this is the realm of monsters.

JOHN: We have some monsters that didn't make the cut. Some that were in the movie, you see a little bit, there are eight-eyed bats. We have bats in there but there was a giant sort of eight-eyed bat. That was in the myth and it was fun to explore that. We liked the idea of getting contrast from the world, because you're on the boat so long and up on the surface. We wanted to break it up and have a different area to sort of explore. So that was the origin of that whole place.

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Talking about the challenges of a primarily computer animated film, Ron and John shared

RON: Some things are the same in terms of the script and the story-boarding and the voice actors. But the actual production process is, is quite a bit different. We had to actually have tutorials before even the movie started.

JOHN: Steve Goldberg worked on Pros and gave us a tutorial and said these jobs don't exist in CG. In CG they've got to build the characters, literally sort of create them in three-dimensional space. They've got to rig them which means they'll put all the armature in there so they can move around. They got to create the world they work in. So, it's a longer set of time.

RON: There are amazing things. I mean with, with the camera movement and the textures and the hair.

JOHN: And certainly, the ocean in the movie we were able to do stuff in CG.

RON: And the lighting. There's a lot of cool things you can do. But a lot of things even like that had to be figured out in the movie. Even the idea of a living ocean that has a personality of a monster, a lava monster, some of those things particularly where character animation and effects animation merge, that isn't done usually.

So there were a lot just to figure out how to do. A lot of really smart people sort of said, we actually don't know how to do this. But we are confident that we will figure it out.

JOHN: We'll figure it out before the end of the movie. And they did. They really did.

YES they did and what an amazing movie all around. Disney Moana is STILL playing in theaters so make sure to see it!

Disney's MOANA poster


From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes “Moana,” a sweeping, CG-animated feature film about an adventurous teenager who sails out on a daring mission to save her people.

During her journey, Moana (voice of Auli‘i Cravalho) meets the mighty demigod Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson), who guides her in her quest to become a master wayfinder.

Together, they sail across the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous monsters and impossible odds, and along the way, Moana fulfills the ancient quest of her ancestors and discovers the one thing she’s always sought: her own identity.

Voice Cast: Auli‘i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Jemaine Clement, Rachel House, Temuera Morrison, Nicole Scherzinger, Alan Tudyk.

Directed by: Ron Clements and John Musker
Produced by: Osnat Shurer
Featuring music by: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mark Mancina and Opetaia Foa‘i

Visit the official MOANA website -

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