Backstage with the Animation Oscar Winners

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The 86th annual Academy Awards are now in the history books, but there’s still lots of good little tidbits coming out from the happenings Sunday night at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

Here are the comments from the backstage press room from Best Animated Feature Oscar winners Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee and Peter Del Vecho for Frozen.

Q. Can you talk about your collaboration with Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, especially in regard to how popular the song “Let It Go” has become in terms of videos and tributes and parodies online?
A. (Jennifer Lee) Well, we worked together with them every day via video conference for a few hours a day for about 14 months and we’d work on the script with them as much as the songs. I mean, they wrote the songs. I did not say we did that. We went back and forth and “Let It Go” for us was a game changer. When we heard that, we knew that we could do something very special with Elsa and we rewrote the movie. So we understood and really felt the emotional power of that song and we’re so happy for them they’re nominated.
Q. I do have a question, because the film actually went so well not only in the United States but also around the world and especially in China. So China now, it’s a big film market for everybody. So I just want to know if you guys actually have any plans upcoming to do an international co-production with China or any Chinese film company?
A. (Chris Buck) Let me tell you, first, we’re thrilled that this movie has touched the hearts and souls of people around the world, I think it touches on some very universal themes that everybody can relate to. Truthfully, what we’re doing next is, we still haven’t finished opening the movie, we still have to open in Japan and then we’re going on vacation before we figure out exactly the next step.
A. (Peter Del Vecho) We’re not going together on vacation.
Q. This movie and this story talked a lot about true love and finding your true love in a time in America where so much has been talked about, about love and marriage equality. Do you think that this film finds a perfect timing this year?
A. (Jennifer Lee) You know what we love about Frozen is we love that we’re finding people are relating to the characters, and from any part of the world or what they’re doing or any families and that’s been huge for us. And we certainly encourage and love all the different interpretations of our characters, and what it means to people and inspires them. I mean, that’s the greatest thing you could ever feel like you’re doing as a filmmaker.
Q. You have had such an meteoric rise since coming on to Wreck-It Ralph. What do you do now to top yourself and what does this Oscar mean to you?
A. (Jennifer Lee) I think I will understand it maybe a few months from now. I’m still completely overwhelmed. Working with these guys has been heaven, being a part of Disney has been a dream come true for me. Yes, I will take a little break and then I really have no idea. But what I love is John Lasseter, all he wants is for us to dream up something new, that means a lot to us, and we always really, really appreciate that freedom.
Q. I enjoyed your article in the L.A. Times today about the travails of a female director and your work on the red carpet. How did you get to choose Oliver Tolentino for tonight’s red carpet?
A. (Jennifer Lee) I saw he had made this dress and it was everything I could ever dream of. He’s an amazing talent. He was very gentle with one who was overwhelmed with the red carpet, took care of me. So I’m very grateful to him and honored that he let me wear this.
Q. There’s been a lot of discussion about another renaissance at Disney animation and I’m wondering what your thoughts are, if that is the case, and what have you learned from your colleagues at Pixar?
A. (Peter Del Vecho) Well, it’s interesting, I was there for the first renaissance. The second one
A. (Jennifer Lee) He was the youngest person there.
A. (Peter Del Vecho) So it’s interesting, every movie we just try to do as good as we can. Pixar, too, a lot of our friends are up at Pixar, a lot of the directors are there too, and personal friends. We’re all just trying to do just films that will touch people, and once in a while you get lucky. And this one we got really, really lucky. We got a great cast, great song writers, and a great story. And it all kind of came together. We had no idea that it would be the phenomenon that it’s turned out to be, but we feel blessed.
Q. I’m here from Norway. And I guess, a lot of Norwegians actually feel that they might have won an Oscar right now, do you agree?
A. (Jennifer Lee) Yes.
A. (Chris Buck) When we sent our art director and the lighting team over to Norway, they came back so inspired. The mountains, the vastness of the mountains going down the Fjords, all the detailing of the [inaudible] where they brought so much back from that trip from Norway that we really feel it added a lot of believability to the world we were creating.
A. (Peter Del Vecho) And I actually, I get to go there in a couple weeks. I’m going to Norway finally.
Q. Welcome. Thank you.
Q. You are now officially an EGOT. What’s your reaction to that?
A. (Jennifer Lee) We are?
A. (Chris Buck) I don’t know.
Q. It means you won an Emmy, an Oscar, a Tony and a Grammy.
A. (Jennifer Lee) I think that that’s Bobby and Kristen Lopez. It’s Bobby Lopez. We still don’t know yet.
A. (Peter Del Vecho) I was going to say, did they announce it?
Q. What is your reaction then to how much this you’ve got the number one soundtrack, it was number one animated movie. How much does that mean to you for that?
A. (Peter Del Vecho) Overwhelming.
A. (Jennifer Lee) Amazing.
A. (Peter Del Vecho) Just like everybody else, we watched all the YouTubes. We still do. And then to watch the songs, it was sort of a slow climb up, especially with the soundtrack, and it just took over. And that song, “Let It Go,” became sort of anthem for people. So for us it’s you know, we love the song, but the fact that the world suddenly could take it and make it their own, it’s unbelievable.
Q. I heard that you were developing a Broadway musical version of Frozen. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
A. (Jennifer Lee) Sure. We’re in very early stages of development. We’re still opening the film, as we say. We are opening in Japan and then we’re going to take a little break and then start looking at it. But, yeah.

One of the cutest moments of the night was the acceptance speech from Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez for winning the Best Original Song Oscar for “Let It Go” from Frozen.

Robert Lopez: Wow, thank you Academy
Kristen: And to our fellow nominees, you are all rock stars.
Both: Literally
Kristen: We have so many people to thank, luckily, everybody’s name rhymes.
Robert: Idina Menzel
Kristen: Kristen Bell
Robert: Jennifer Lee
Kristen: Peter Del V.
Robert: Chris Buck
Kristen: Chris Beck
Robert: John Lasseter
Both, singing: Happy Oscars to you. Let’s do Frozen 2.
Robert: Tom MacDougall
Kristen: Chris Montan
Robert: Oremus
Kristen: Metzger
Robert: Besterman
Kristen: The Anderson
Robert: And the Lopez Clan
Kristen: Jon Groff
Robert: Josh Gad
Both: Mom and dad
Robert: John Buzzetti and our team back East
Kristen: and Kate…Brooklyn. And last but not least
Robert: Our girls
Kristen: Katie and Annie. This song is inspired by our love for you and the hope that you never let fear or shame keep you from celebrating the unique people that you are. Thank you, we love you.
Robert: We love you. Thank you.

And here is what the song winners had to say backstage:

Q. Hey, Robert and Kristen, congratulations.
A. (Robert Lopez) Thank you.
A. (Kristen Anderson-Lopez) Hi, it’s our friend.
Q. So, Robert, not only did you make history by joining a group of people who have won the Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony but in the Philippines you just made history by being the first Philippine American to win an Oscar. So, your thoughts please.
A. (Robert Lopez ) Filipino pride. I’m so excited. I’m just sending love to the Philippines. I know they’ve had a tough year and I just send out my feelings to them.
A. (Kristen Anderson-Lopez) We are doing a concert for the Philippines. I believe it’s March 12th, in New York City.
A. (Robert Lopez) A benefit.
A. (Kristen Anderson-Lopez) A benefit, and probably be singing something from Frozen.
Q. Congratulations again.
A. (Robert Lopez) Thank you.
A. (Kristen Anderson-Lopez) Thank you.
Q. Bobby, Kristen.
A. (Robert Lopez) Hey, David.
A. (Kristen Anderson-Lopez) Hi, David. These are our friends.
Q. I know. Could you two be any more adorable? No, really, that’s the question. Could you be any more adorable? I mean, that was really cute what you guys were saying up on stage. But I have to ask you the question, Bobby, the EGOT question. How does it feel?
A. (Robert Lopez) It feels great. I don’t consider it, you know — I don’t really consider myself in that group. I mean, I’m a collaborator.
A. (Kristen Anderson-Lopez) The girls and I made something for you, Bobby. Just in case this moment happened. We made it last week.
A. (Robert Lopez) Oh, no.
A. (Kristen Anderson-Lopez) It’s made of pasta.
A. Thank you. No, I mean what I was going to say is every award that I’ve ever been fortunate enough to win has been won in conjunction with an amazingly talented collaborator, and I just — my thanks go out to all of them, my collaborators, including my wife, who has been in the background all of my work for every — you know, every single show that she’s not received credit for, she’s been whispering in my ear the whole time. So, I’m glad that she is finally getting credit for being the amazing artist that I’ve always known that she is.
A. Thank you.
Q. Congratulations.
A. Thank you.
Q. So, how do you plan to celebrate tonight?
A. (Kristen Anderson-Lopez) I think we’re going to sleep. It’s been — we are New Yorkers, so we’ve been on Eastern time and we rented a house in like the worst place to be when it rains in Los Angeles. We are up in the canyons. So, there were like boulders flying. I think we’re just going to sleep after we party.
Q. Hi. You were so amazing at the concert. Yeah, and you totally underplayed, you know, oh, I can’t sing at all. But when you first performed the song to the directors and the producers, did you, in fact, sing it?
A. (Kristen Anderson-Lopez) Yes, we do that. That’s our process. We sing — we both perform all the songs that we write. We create a demo in our tiny little studio, and then we play them for the directors and John Lasseter, and John Lasseter played the demo that had me singing “Let It Go” in his car for months and months.
A. (Robert Lopez) We imagined him getting pulled over by state troopers, you know, hitting the accelerator when the music goes into overdrive.
A. (Kristen Anderson-Lopez) [Singing] Let it go.
Q. First of all, congratulations. The song has taken — the song has taken on a life of its own. What was the inspiration behind it?
A. (Robert Lopez) You know, we really think of our kids — when we were writing Frozen, we thought of our girls because we have two girls, just like Elsa and Anna, and we wanted to write a song that would sort of instill in them the idea that shame and fear should not prevent them from being the magical people that they really are.
Q. Hi, guys. Congratulations. I was out there on the red carpet.
A. (Robert Lopez) Thanks.
Q. Got a good picture. Hey, first off, question, Oaken, the guy in the sauna, was that his wife in there or was that his daughter?
A. (Kristen Anderson-Lopez) You know, the wonderful thing about animation is you bring to it what you want. And if you want — whatever you want to bring to that situation is what you bring to it. It’s like literature.
Q. And also I just wanted to tag on to that, Jonathan Groff, can you talk a little bit about collaborating with him and the song that you did for that and how that all came to be?
A. (Kristen Anderson-Lopez) Do you mean the making of Frozen song or do you mean the “Reindeer(s) Are Better Than People”?
Q. “Reindeer(s) Are Better Than People” and I was wondering, you know, because I think I had talked to you earlier and you were like, wow, we had this great, amazing Broadway singer and he, you know, just wasn’t used that much in the movie.
A. (Robert Lopez) Well, we hope to rectify that for Frozen, the musical. If we — if we do get a chance to write that, and we hope to with Disney, we’ll give Kristoff a proper song. But that reindeer song was sort of written, you know, because Kristoff had Sven and he could really only talk to Sven, and Sven’s this reindeer and he was doing Sven’s voice at the same — it was just kind of weird. And he didn’t — until the very last act of the film, it wouldn’t have made sense for him to break out into a real song.
A. (Kristen Anderson-Lopez) I feel like they’re announcing Best Picture right now. Is that happening?
Q. (Moderator) Best Actress, Cate Blanchett.
Q. Congratulations to you both. Your song “Let It Go” is now part of the Disney echelon. Can you just explain a little bit about how that feels to you both?
A. (Kristen Anderson-Lopez) It’s — you don’t really comprehend something like that. We wrote this song to tell a story. And we love musical stories, and you don’t — you don’t imagine that it will spread this far. But every single day on my Facebook or on my Twitter, I get some kind of testimonial from somebody who says this song kept me from committing suicide, or this song got me through the cancer treatment for my kids and that is just so meaningful to us that our song can go and give hugs to people like that.
Q. Thank you so much.
A. Thank you.

The Oscars

The Oscars