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‘Frozen 2’ Filmmakers Discuss Why They Returned For a Sequel & More

Earlier this month Geeks of Color had the chance to attend the Frozen 2 press day event that took place at Disney Animation studios. The day started off with a footage presentation and Q&A by co-director and writer Jennifer Lee, co-director Chris Buck and producer Peter Del Vecho.

They spoke in-depth about why they wanted to make a second Frozen movie, what they learned after the first one, and much more.

Check out what they told us below:

Peter Del Vecho: Six years ago when Frozen was released in theaters we could never have imagined how much that film would mean to people of all ages. How it would resonate with audiences around the world. We’ve never for one moment taken that for granted. And, that’s how we approached Frozen 2. At Disney Animation we never make sequels unless the filmmakers themselves have an idea for a film and a desire to tell it. That’s why even though Frozen 2 is our fifty-eighth animated feature, it is only our fourth sequel. It’s the first animated musical sequel that we have made at that.

Now, I’ve had the pleasure of teaming up once again with Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee. Chris is a talented Disney Animation veteran who
previously directed Tarzan. Jennifer returns as his fellow director and is once again the screenwriter, and she also happens to be our studio’s Chief Creative Officer. It’s been incredible to work with these two talented people again.

Peter Del Vecho: A few years ago, when I was traveling around the world presenting to artists and students I kept hearing the same question over and over again. Where did Elsa get her icy powers? Well, it turned out that question was one that Jennifer and Chris were beginning to wrestle with as well. We realized that there was more story to tell. Frozen’s ending was really just the beginning for Anna and Elsa, newly reunited as sisters.

So, we began early work on Frozen 2. That work started with research. For the first Frozen, Jennifer, Chris and I were so busy in story development that we weren’t able to go on the artists’ research trip to Norway. But in 2016, Jennifer, Chris and I finally had the privilege of making our first research trip for Frozen 2. Along with our artists, we traveled to Norway, Finland and Iceland. And, we were deeply inspired by the beauty of these places.

Chris Buck: Talking about the research trip. So, it was kind of a stark contrast between Norway and Iceland that framed the concept for us. Anna felt at home in Norway with its fairytale settings, but Elsa felt strangely at home in this dark, mythic Iceland.

Jennifer Lee : We realized on this trip is that Anna is your perfect fairytale character. She’s an ordinary hero, not magical. She’s optimistic. Whereas, Elsa is the perfect mythic character. Mythic characters are magical. They carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. In fact, the mythic characters often meet a tragic fate and we realized we had two stories going together, a mythic story and a fairytale story. In the mythic aspect of it, the fear of that tragic fate is something that Anna’s been worrying about and thus protects her sister from.

Chris Buck : So, to make Frozen 2, we got back together our incredible creative team from the first Frozen. That wasn’t hard to do, actually. Luckily. And, when it came to music we again collaborated with our original song writers and that’s Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez. And, so these Oscar-winning songwriters brought so much to Frozen and we’re thrilled to work with them again on Frozen 2.

Jennifer Lee: And, our incredible original cast returns to Frozen 2 as well. You’ve got Kristin Bell (Anna), Idina Menzel (Elsa), Josh Gad (Olaf) and Jonathan Groff (Kristoff), and they are all back. Each one of them brings so much to their characters, and they are joined by incredible new talent to the Frozen world, and that’s including Evan Rachel Wood who plays Anna and Elsa’s mother, Queen Iduna.

After the presentation, journalists had the chance to ask a few questions!

Question: What were your forest spirits on this movie? What
were things that cropped up because of the success of Frozen? Two – this is maybe a silly question – but there was an entire season of Once Upon A Time that was a Frozen sequel. Was any of that canon to you?

Jennifer Lee: Oh, in terms of the second question first, and then the first. No, that’s not canon. We didn’t see it. So, I kinda made a point of certain things not to see, so it wouldn’t affect us that way. Frozen 1 and Frozen 2 to me are one complete story and that’s really where we stand. So glad they had fun with that. I think they had a lot of fun with the characters.

Chris Buck: Our forest spirits. That’s a tough one. I mean it’s- the exciting thing about doing the sequel, which, was to be able to tell more of the story. We didn’t want to listen too much of what was out there in the zeitgeist of everybody, what their wishes for the next movie were. But, we wanted to tell the story that was true to the characters and we dug in, and we got excited about doing the sequel when we did a short called Frozen Fever. And, when we started to see the characters alive again in animation we both went, “Oh my gosh! I love these. I love this world. I love these characters”. So, we knew we have more story to tell and we wanted to do that.

Question: Because of the success of Frozen, did you feel pressure making this film? What kind of mindset did you have to going into?

Jennifer Lee: Yeah, we made a pact when we connected with Bobby and Kristen. We were just about a year out and didn’t know it would be picked up by later generations. We’re still naïve in that sense a little bit. But, we made a pact that we would build the second one the same way as the first, and not let that pressure into the story room. Because, every song has to come from the story, just like it did before. Every moment has to be true. Any time anyone of us were nervous we would just ground each other, and I think we had to or it wouldn’t be an authentic story. I think in many ways at the end of the day we – just like we didn’t know what the world would think of Frozen – we can’t know. But what we can know is that we did build this the way we believed in and there’s a lot of real emotion and real sharing of experiences and real story that was driven the way the first one was.

Chris Buck: I think the response from the audience was actually very exciting, because the audience loved the characters as much as we did. So, it showed that, we wanted to tell more story and we felt that the audience wanted to know more of the story. So, that propelled us and that kept us going!

We will have a lot more Frozen 2 coverage coming for you soon!

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