Pooh Returns to Disney’s Animation Studios

July 26, 2011 by  
Filed under /Headlines

Have you seen the new Winnie the Pooh film yet?  It’s definitely on The List.  Anyway, Khia Beauchesne talks about the new Winnie the Pooh film at Moving Pictures Network.com:

(EXCERPT) For live-action films, location scouting is not out of the ordinary. But for an animated movie like the new “Winnie the Pooh,” even directors Don Hall and Stephen Anderson were surprised to have a budget to travel to Ashdown Forest in East Sussex, England, to see the inspiration for the Hundred Acre Wood.

“We suggested that idea, almost as a joke, because we didn’t think they’d actually send us,” Hall admits.

While Hall and Anderson were in England, they also toured several London museums to see E.H. Shepard’s original drawings for A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh stories. The entire film is hand-drawn with a watercolor aesthetic, just like Shepard’s artwork. Other research for the cast and crew involved family screenings of all the previous Pooh classics.

“I think the idea of Winnie the Pooh coming back into the building was something we wouldn’t have anticipated … but suddenly it was a really exciting proposition,” Anderson says.

It had been 35 years since Pooh and his friends had been in Walt Disney AnimationStudios (recent films came from the straight-to-DVD unit) and 85 years since Milne introduced the characters to the world in his first storybook. The pressure was on for the filmmakers to handle the beloved and timeless characters with care. Modernizing the film for audiences without tampering with the classic aspects of it came in a few different forms.

“We didn’t want iPads or iPhones, even in Christopher Robin’s bedroom when we dressed the set,” Hall says. “We didn’t want to make it so period that it was strictly things from 1922. We opened it up a little bit, but we just wanted it to feel timeless.”

Bridging the old and the new in the new “Winnie the Pooh” movies is Jim Cummings, the third person to have voiced Pooh, having taken over the role in the late ’80s. Cummings has been exercising his voice versatility since then as the voice of both innocent Pooh and adventurous Tigger, including numerous scenes alone between the two friends.

“I’m glad they’re very, very different,” Cummings says. “I used to switch back and forth … but years and years ago, and I’m the only person that heard this probably, but I almost heard a syllable of Pooh at the beginning of a Tigger word. So I said from that day, ‘I have to do Pooh separately,’ and I always do Pooh first, then Tigger.”

Though diligent in maintaining the timeless factor of Pooh, Hall and Anderson also linked the film to the present-day generation through the musical talents of singer-songwriter and actress Zooey Deschanel.

“We wanted to get somebody contemporary to record [the opening theme], but the list of appropriate artists is a pretty small list. So when they showed us the list with her name on it, we felt like that was perfect. She is contemporary, she’s hip and cool and kind of trendy, but her sound’s not at all contemporary — it’s a throwback,” Hall says.

“Our mandate was that Winnie the Pooh should find a broad audience — little kids, big kids, teenagers, twentysomethings and beyond,” Hall says.

Read the whole article at MovingPicturesNetwork.

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