Longtime Disney producer Peter Del Vecho may have had a hand in the studio’s hits Princess and the Frog and their recent Winnie the Pooh big screen foray, but nothing has touched him like the work he’s been doing for years now on Frozen.
We went to Disney recently and checked out almost a half-hour of footage, meeting the latest Frozen Disney characters, and marveled at the incredible looking and sounding (the score is to die for!) film starring Kristen Bell, Josh Gad and Idina Menzel and afterward… got an exclusive chat with Del Vecho.
Movie Fanatic: You've been working on Frozen for years, even to share a part of it with people like you did with me today, how does that make you feel?
Peter Del Vecho: This movie feels to us like a perfect present you have to give someone, but you have to wrap it up and put it under the tree and you cannot wait for Christmas Day for it to be opened. So, as we begin to hint at it, it’s fun. I’m anxious for people to see the whole movie because then you can really get the scope and the scale and the story we’re trying to tell.
Movie Fanatic: The story is so rich, as we could even tell in that first Frozen trailer, from what we’ve seen so far. What aspects of it most resonated with you personally?
Peter Del Vecho: It’s an epic story, but I love the fact that we have a lot of great characters -- one of whom has the power to create ice and snow. She’s almost superhuman. But, it’s really Anna’s story and she is an ordinary person without any powers at all. And yet, it is her inner strength that becomes the ultimate superpower. I always love the underdog story!
Movie Fanatic: Putting together a movie like this, there are immeasurable hurdles. Is there one that stands out that you are particularly proud of that you and Disney conquered?
Peter Del Vecho: Certainly, the biggest challenge on the movie was the amount of time we had. We always knew we’d get the story right, but can we get it right in the time we were given? We knew the potential of the story early on, but can we deliver on it? On the production side, we knew early on we didn’t want to do a movie where characters were walking on a white surface.
Movie Fanatic: So glad you mentioned that. It is animated snow unlike any I’ve ever seen!
Peter Del Vecho: Glad you noticed that. A lot of research was done on snow and walking in snow and on snow and we created the technology behind that. It was a big feat for us. And also just from an art direction standpoint, when we first started talking about the movie and a lot of it takes place on the snowy and icy landscape, our art director helped us realize that it was a blank canvas and that white is the perfect canvas because you can reflect any color you want. Shadows can help give it contour, and all of a sudden we have a whole new world.
Movie Fanatic: We as a people have always loved animation. But, it seems like right now in 2013, audiences just cannot get enough. What do you attribute that to?
Peter Del Vecho: Live action does a great job at depicting realism and we have the ability to really make a believable world, but it doesn’t have to be a realistic world. We can have characters like Olaf (check out the Frozen Olaf trailer), who can, yes, carry a lot of comedy, but he’s an innocent character who can also be quite poignant and can say things in a way that perhaps in a live action movie you couldn’t. There’s something about animation that still touches us on an emotional level.
Movie Fanatic: What is your first memory of animation?
Peter Del Vecho: My first memory is Bambi. I remember being in the theater. I remember being horrified and I felt so sorry through the death of the mother. That struck me, the power of that. If you watch Bambi, that moment is actually a very simple moment. But, it is so powerful.
Movie Fanatic: I’ll never forget that moment either.
Peter Del Vecho: You’re not alone! I hear that all the time here at Disney. As a story maker, I understand how parents don’t make it past the beginning of the movie. I realized it’s because one of the biggest obstacles is having a character who is alone in the world and overcomes odds by themselves. It raises the stakes.