Behind the scenes of Frozen 2 with Marc Smith [INTERVIEW]

” height=”540″ src=”” width=”540″> On the occasion of the broadcast on Disney+ of “In another world: behind the scenes of Frozen 2”, we posed questions to Marc Smith, director of the story on the animated film. He explains how this highly anticipated sequel was created.

En broadcast on Disney++, the six-episode documentary series “In Another World: Behind the Scenes of Frozen 2” aims to share with us the creative process that allowed the Disney animation studio to bring Frozen to life. des Neiges 2. We follow in particular the directors, the songwriters and composers of the songs, but also the artists and actors of the film in this making-of in six parts which makes it possible to realize the way in which an animated blockbuster is set up. We follow in particular the recording of the songs by the actors, the informal discussions about the key scenes of the film or the various presentations organized internally to find out if the film is on the right track or if it needs to be modified. .

Among the major players in the creation of Frozen 2, Marc Smith is the Story Director, i.e. he leads the team in charge of the film’s storyboard, in other words the visual framework of the film from which the animators can work in order to bring the directors’ vision to life. Marc Smith has worked at the Disney animation studio for over 66 years. He recently worked on Zootopia, Rapunzel and Frozen 1 and 2. During a telephone interview, Marc Smith answered our questions about the creation of Frozen 2, which was not of any rest as you will be able to read it in this interview but also to see it in the documentary series on Disney+.

You worked on the Frozen 1 storyboard. For Frozen 2, you were promoted to Story Director. What has changed for you?

As the storyboard artist for Frozen 1, I was only directing not the team and I arrived on the project later than for Frozen 2. For the second film, I had the chance to start the project very early and to participate in the research trip. It’s something we do a lot for our films. For this one, we went to Iceland, Finland and Norway. This trip had a very important role in the creation of the film. I didn’t have the chance to be part of it for the first one.

What does your work as a Story Director on Frozen 2?

At the beginning of the creative process, it’s a lot of discussions with the directors at the subject of characters and plot. I try to find out more about their vision and how to bring it to the screen. Once the writing for the film begins, my team and I start drawing storyboards for the film. The characters and scenes are drawn by hand. We try to create the whole film in storyboard. Usually, temporary voices are added, dubbed by directors or crew members. Once we have everything composed, we look at what this version of the film would look like. We offer between six and twelve versions of the film, sometimes very different from what the film looks like in the end.

Since Frozen is a musical film, we also have to find a way to integrate them into the plot. It must be quite a challenge!

Kristen Anderon-Lopez and Robert Lopez [auteurs-compositeurs des chansons de La Reine des Neiges 1 et 2, ndlr] greatly contributed to the film. We had meetings with them every morning, them in New York and us in Los Angeles. They were showing us what they were experimenting with and we were showing them what the film was going to look like. In these kinds of films, you really have to combine your forces to find the right songs at the right time. There was a lot of exchange between the songwriters and the producers. Working on a musical film is a unique challenge. On the other hand, the songs also help to present the story for us. A big part of our job is therefore to ensure that the logic of the film allows these songs to shine in these precise places.

As you can see in the documentary, “I’m looking for you” was a particularly difficult sequence to create. Can you explain to us why?

“I am looking for you” is a difficult sequence because it is the culmination of the narrative arc of ‘Elsa not only for Frozen 2 but also Frozen 1. From the first film, we wondered where Elsa’s powers came from. This sequence in the 2 therefore represents the culmination of its history on the two films. It required a lot of work, a lot of exchanges, conversations and storyboarding then re-storyboarding so that we could consider that it was part of the logic of the film.

The documentary shows how much animation work has to be repeated and re-rehearsed. How many versions of Frozen 2 were there before the final version?

I could be wrong but I believe that ‘we had maybe eight versions before the pre-screenings to the public. So eight versions of the film, some very different from the final version, others closer. The more we advance in the project, the less things change. But yes, probably between eight and ten versions.

It also means that, sometimes, entire scenes or even songs should be removed from the film. It must break your heart…

At the beginning yes because most of the time they are very very good songs or very good scenes. Everyone loves them and you can see what place they could have in history at this point. But when the story evolves, some songs or scenes become superfluous. Some emotion sequences appear elsewhere or something is changed. I think everyone understands when to take a song or a scene down. But at the beginning, indeed, it is difficult.

Throughout the creation of the film, you organize screenings for feedback. Often, these feedbacks dissect your work in a very direct way. Is it hard to deal with it?

It’s true and it can be hard at first. But we can accept them as long as we keep in mind that everyone is working towards the same goal. It’s actually quite unique to our studio. It doesn’t matter who you are: whether you’re working on the story, the direction, the security, the technology… Everyone is working towards the same goal. I think it makes it easier to know that we all have good intentions.

The team did she feel any pressure working on this sequel to a blockbuster movie?

For me, this pressure comes from the fact that these characters are very important to many people. We don’t want to betray that. We don’t want to change these characters but go further with them. It was my wish and that of the directors.

What did you think of the feedback from the public on the film ?

It’s an honor that so many people came back to see these characters and this world. I have the impression that people are still so attached to these characters. It’s an honor for me to be part of this adventure.

Sometimes we compare animation studios Disney and Pixar. Do you think this comparison is valid?

We do the same thing so I guess we can be compared from this point of view. We work hard to make animated films that appeal to as many people as possible and that are important to us. We work with Pixar by the way. Many of my friends work at Pixar. Animation is a small world. It doesn’t seem to me that there is a rivalry between us. We’re a bit like brothers and sisters!

There is also an emulation that pushes the two studios to push back their limits?

I’m sure there’s a healthy competition between the two studios. Or simply inspirations because we look at what Pixar does and we love their films. Sometimes we show them our films and they seem to like them. Sometimes they ask us how we managed to do certain things. This relationship seems healthy to me. I am very happy that we have the chance to exchange between us.

Last year, Jennifer Lee announced that you and other filmmakers will soon be directing your first feature film for Disney. What can you tell us about this project?

All I can tell you is that I’m at the beginning of the development phase. I am very happy and excited to be part of this group of filmmakers.

In another world : Behind the scenes of Frozen 2 – available on Disney+


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