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Disney•Pixar’s “Coco” Celebrates
Family and the Art of Being Remembered
“For this music is my language
And the world es mi familia.”
~ MIGUEL, “Coco”
In Disney•Pixar’s “Coco,” aspiring musician Miguel (voice of Anthony Gonzalez) teams up with charming trickster Héctor (voice of Gael García Bernal) on an extraordinary journey through the Land of the Dead.
We adore Disney Pixar's multigenerational Mexican masterpiece and can't rave highly enough about it. This is THE film to see over the holiday season. The voice talent and original score are fantastic, as is the animation. It's stellar story telling of the highest magnitude with stunning visuals the whole family will enjoy.
ChiIL Mama was invited to a sneak peek press preview of Coco two days before it opened to the public, where jaded critics were actually tearing up. This celebration of music, family, ancestors, and Mexican culture resonated with me and I can't wait to return with the whole family and catch it again. I love the adventure, the family relationships and the clever plot twists that make this a keeper. Coco is sure to delight audiences for generations to come. Oh SO highly recommended.
“Coco” showcases the importance of family,
honoring your ancestors and following your dreams.
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U.S. Release Date:November 22, 2017
Running Time: 1:44:53
Voice Cast: Gael García Bernal, Anthony Gonzalez, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Renée Victor, Jaime Camil, Alfonso Arau, Herbert Siguenza, Gabriel Iglesias, Lombardo Boyar, Ana Ofelia Murguía, Natalia Cordova-Buckley, Selene Luna, Edward James Olmos, Sofía Espinosa, Carla Medina, Dyana Ortelli, Luis Valdez, Blanca Araceli, Salvador Reyes, Cheech Marin, Octavio Solis, John Ratzenberger
Director: Lee Unkrich
Co-director: Adrian Molina
Producer: Darla K. Anderson
Despite his family’s baffling generations-old ban on music, Miguel (voice of Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt). Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead following a mysterious chain of events. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Héctor (voice of Gael García Bernal), and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel's family history.
Did you know...
Director Lee Unkrich and producer Darla K. Anderson teamed up for 2010’s Oscar®- and Golden Globe®-winning feature “Toy Story 3,” which is the third highest-grossing animated feature in worldwide box office.
Directed by Lee Unkrich (“Toy Story 3”), co-directed by Adrian Molina (story artist “Monsters University”) and produced by Darla K. Anderson (“Toy Story 3”), Disney•Pixar’s “Coco” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2017.
Did you know...
“Coco” features an original score from Oscar®-winning composer Michael Giacchino (“Up,” “Rogue One”), a song by Oscar winners Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez (“Frozen”), and additional songs co-written by Germaine Franco (“Dope,” “Shovel Buddies”) and co-director Adrian Molina. Also part of the team is musical consultant Camilo Lara of the music project Mexican Institute of Sound, as well as cultural consultants Lalo Alcaraz, Marcela Davison Avilés and Octavio Solis.
“Coco” features an original score from Oscar®-winning composer Michael Giacchino (“Up,” “Rogue One”), a song by Oscar winners Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez (“Frozen”), and additional songs co-written by Germaine Franco (“Dope,” “Shovel Buddies”) and co-director Adrian Molina. Also part of the team is musical consultant Camilo Lara of the music project Mexican Institute of Sound, as well as cultural consultants Lalo Alcaraz, Marcela Davison Avilés and Octavio Solis.
“‘Coco’ is about a 12-year-old boy with big dreams,” says director Lee Unkrich. “It’s about a hardworking family with great traditions and a lot of love. But what’s so cool about ‘Coco’ is that the boy could be my son. That family could live next door. The sweet, bossy grandmother who insists on one more bite might be your grandma. There’s something familiar to us all in this story. That’s what makes it so special.”
The universal theme of family resonated with filmmakers. “We are all part of a family,” says co-director and screenwriter Adrian Molina. “Those relationships are beautiful and complicated. But our family shapes who we are, which made us wonder—if you had an opportunity to meet your ancestors, what would you recognize in them that you see in yourself?”
Adds Unkrich, “We recognized a common need to be remembered—to feel that we’ll matter long after our time here. Likewise, there’s a strong desire to keep alive the memories of our loved ones. By sharing their stories and creating our own, we build this connection across generations that is bigger than our day-to-day lives.”
Pixar Animation Studios’ 19th feature film introduces Miguel, an aspiring singer and self-taught guitarist who dreams of following in the footsteps of his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz, the most famous musician in the history of Mexico. But Miguel’s family forbids music. Many years ago, his great-great-grandmother and great-great-grandfather came to an impasse: She wanted to raise their family together in Santa Cecilia, but he couldn’t let go of his dream, leaving his family behind in his quest to be a musician. Passed down from generation to generation, great-great-grandmother Mamá Imelda’s consequent ban on music is strictly enforced—much to Miguel’s dismay. “When Miguel unearths a secret from his family’s past—a connection to Ernesto de la Cruz, he rushes to share the news with his family, thinking it will clear the way for him to be a musician,” says screenwriter Matthew Aldrich. “To his surprise, it only makes matters worse.”
Adds Molina, “Miguel feels like he has to choose between his passion for music and his love for his family. He really wants to share his talents with his family—to prove to them that making music is both beautiful and honorable. But he goes about it the wrong way.”
Miguel’s impulsive actions spark a magical event that renders him visible only to those who have come to visit from the Land of the Dead on Día de Muertos, also known as Día de los Muertos. This lively and colorful parallel world is populated by generations and generations of people who long ago left the Land of the Living, including Miguel’s own ancestors, who instantly recognize him and offer to help—but only if he agrees to give up music forever. “That’s just not something Miguel can accept,” says producer Darla K. Anderson, “so he teams up with a scrappy, streetwise skeleton named Héctor and they set out to find Ernesto de la Cruz—who they believe holds the key to Miguel’s baffling and decidedly unmusical family history.”
Fortunately, the Rivera family’s ban on music doesn’t extend to the film itself. “I love the irony,” says Anderson. “We have a family with this inexplicable objection to music who live in a country that’s rooted in it. In ‘Coco,’ we pay homage to all different styles of Mexican music.”
According to Anderson, authenticity was important. Filmmakers wanted to ensure that the film’s music not only sounded genuine, but looked genuine, too. “We used footage of musicians as reference so that when Miguel strums his guitar, it looks right. We recruited a number of talented musicians from Mexico whose ability to pour their hearts into this music makes all the difference in the world.”
Set in Mexico, “Coco” features two distinct worlds: the Land of the Living and the Land of the Dead. Miguel and his family hail from Santa Cecilia, a charming town with a bustling central plaza where residents congregate. The look and feel of Santa Cecilia is inspired by villages visited by the filmmakers during research trips—but those trips did so much more. “The story of ‘Coco’ is inspired by Mexico’s people, cultures and traditions,” says Unkrich. “The people of Mexico made us think about our own families, our own histories and how that makes us who we are today. We are grateful for the opportunities afforded to us, and we can honestly say we are different people as a result of our experiences.”
The voice cast includes characters from the Land of the Living and the Land of the Dead. From the Land of the Living, Anthony Gonzalez (“Ice Box,” TNT’s “The Last Ship”) lends his voice to Miguel, Renée Victor (“Weeds,” “The Apostle”) provides the authoritative voice of Abuelita, and Jaime Camil (CW’s “Jane the Virgin,” Disney Junior’s “Elena of Avalor,” “The Secret Lives of Pets”) is the voice of Papá. Lombardo Boyar (“Happy Feet,” TNT’s “Murder in the First”) voices a town mariachi, and Ana Ofelia Murguía is the voice of Miguel’s cherished great-grandmother Mamá Coco. Sofía Espinosa (“Gloria”) provides the voice of Miguel’s loving Mamá, and Luis Valdez (“Which Way Is Up,” director “La Bamba” and “The Cisco Kid”) lends his voice to Tío Berto, Miguel’s hardworking uncle.
From the Land of the Dead, Gael García Bernal (Amazon’s “Mozart in the Jungle”) helps bring to life charming trickster Héctor, Benjamin Bratt (Fox’s “Star,” “Doctor Strange”) is the voice of Miguel’s idol Ernesto de la Cruz, and Alanna Ubach (“Meet the Fockers,” Bravo’s “Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce”) provides the voice of Miguel’s great-great-grandmother Mamá Imelda. Alfonso Arau (“¡Three Amigos!” director/ producer “Like Water for Chocolate,” director “A Walk in the Clouds”) is the voice of Miguel’s late great-grandfather Papá Julio, Herbert Siguenza (“Larry Crowne,” “Ben 10: Alien Swarm”) lends his voice to both Tío Oscar and Tío Felipe, Miguel’s late identical twin uncles, and Gabriel Iglesias (“Planes,” “The Nut Job,” “The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature”) lends his voice to the Clerk. Natalia Cordova-Buckley (“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D”) provides the voice of legendary artist Frida Kahlo, Selene Luna (“My Bloody Valentine,” “Celebrity Wife Swap”) voices Miguel’s aunt Tía Rosita, and Edward James Olmos (“Blade Runner,” “Stand and Deliver”) lends his voice to Chicharrón.
Also lending their voices are Carla Medina, Dyana Ortelli, Blanca Araceli, Salvador Reyes, Cheech Marin, Octavio Solis and John Ratzenberger.
Directed by Unkrich (“Toy Story 3”) and co-directed by Molina (story artist “Monsters University”) from a script by Molina and Matthew Aldrich (“Spinning Man”). Anderson (“Toy Story 3”) produces, and John Lasseter is executive producer. “Coco” features an original score from Oscar®-winning composer Michael Giacchino (“Up,” “Rogue One”), a song by Oscar winners Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez (“Frozen”), and additional songs co-written by Germaine Franco (“Dope,” “Shovel Buddies”) and Molina. Also part of the team is musical consultant Camilo Lara of the music project Mexican Institute of Sound, as well as cultural consultants Lalo Alcaraz, Marcela Davison Avilés and Octavio Solis.
OFF THE BEATEN TRACK
“Coco” Team Finds Their Story in Mexico
Pixar Animation Studios explores a wide range of worlds in its films—from Paris to the Great Barrier Reef, space to Monstropolis. Research is the cornerstone in creating these fantastical, yet believable worlds and the characters who inhabit them—whether that means deconstructing classic toys or figuring out how many balloons it would take to lift a house off of the ground.
For “Coco,” filmmakers wanted to immerse the audience in the culture that would anchor their story. They approached their research from many directions—enlisting consultants and experts, studying Mexican art, film and music, and traveling throughout Mexico to experience the traditions, meet the people and see firsthand where their characters would live.
Filmmakers collaborated with a team of cultural consultants, including political cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz, playwright Octavio Solis and heritage and arts author, independent producer and advocate Marcela Davison Avilés. The consultants, whose families all hail from Mexico, weighed in on everything from character wardrobe and sets décor to the color palette and even dialogue—encouraging a fluid blend of Spanish and English within the script in a way that required no translation. “That reflects our upbringing,” says Solis. “We grew up in bilingual households. We spoke Spanish and English in the schoolyard interchangeably.”
Solis, who’s worked in the Bay Area arts arena for three decades, says filmmakers welcomed his honest opinions. “I don’t always toe the party line,” he says. I’m aware of what people in my culture desire in order to grow and become more involved in the fabric of the American experience.”
Solis encouraged filmmakers not to take the characters in the Land of the Dead too seriously. “Our approach to honoring our ancestors is lighthearted—if someone was a real pill in life, she’s probably a pill in death, too. I think the film captures that very well.”
Alcaraz, the nationally syndicated editorial cartoonist behind the comic strip La Cucaracha, supported the filmmakers’ efforts to lean into the family theme. “Latinos have strong family structure—family is number one,” he says. “That’s what I love about ‘Coco.’”
“It’s a universal story about a family’s enduring love for each other,” adds Avilés. “While there is a profound cultural homage taking place during Día de Muertos—it’s important to understand the celebratory aspects of the holiday and that the children in the film are happily taking part in the celebration.”
“People are going to understand this culture—these traditions—a lot more after they see this film, because Pixar has done its research,” says Alcaraz.
According to Avilés, who also curates and produces Mexican heritage cultural arts programming, the most important thing filmmakers did in their quest for an accurate and respectful representation of the Mexican culture in “Coco” was awareness that it needed to happen. “Then they acted on that awareness,” she says. “They took the time to try to understand. They listened to experts from many different fields—archeologists, musicians, cultural advocates. And they embarked on numerous research trips. It was all done with utmost sincerity, respect and humbleness.”
“As soon as we decided that we wanted to tell a story that takes place in Mexico, we immediately booked our first research trip,” says director Lee Unkrich. “Over the course of three years, we visited museums, markets, plazas, workshops, churches, haciendas and cemeteries throughout Mexico. Families welcomed us into their homes and taught us about the foods they enjoy, the music they listen to, their livelihoods and their traditions. Most importantly, we witnessed the importance they place on family.”
That, according to Unkrich, is what ultimately sparked the story audiences will see on the big screen this Thanksgiving. “We really wanted to explore the family bonds that tie us to the generations that came before us,” he says. “This story is about celebrating our past—even as we look to the future.”
Unkrich traveled with producer Darla K. Anderson, production designer Harley Jessup and story supervisor Jason Katz to Mexico City in 2011. The team visited Mexico City’s Museo Dolores Olmedo to see the altar dedicated to Pedro Linares, the local artist who created the papier-mâché figurines named alebrijes in the late 1930s following a bizarre fever dream. The filmmakers were so enamored of the vibrant figurines that they vowed to include them in the film one way or another.
The trip also included time spent in Oaxaca, where they visited Santo Domingo church and cultural center, as well as the Tlacolula Market and El Árbol del Tule, an enormous Montezuma cypress tree estimated to be as old as 3000 years. Filmmakers toured the village Teotitlán del Valle and also saw alebrije artist Jacobo Angeles’ studio. A highlight was Monte Albán, where they saw ruins of great plazas, pyramids and tombs, which served as reference for the vertical design of the Land of the Dead.
While in Morelia, the team saw Plaza Morelos, Tarascas Fountain and the Aqueduct Morelia, which would later serve as reference for the film’s impressive marigold bridge that spans between the Land of the Living and the Land of the Dead. They visited the Palacio de Gobierno and Cathedral in Guadalajara’s historic center. On Día de Muertos, they went from Pátzcuaro to Santa Fe de la Laguna to visit “Casa del Muerto del Año.” A local family welcomed them into their home for dinner, and they spent time in the beautifully decorated cemeteries at Tzintzuntzán.
Though the film was still in its infancy, the pictures taken proved valuable years later. “We were so inspired,” says Jessup. “It was early in the process and we just soaked it all up, capturing images we knew we’d use in any version of the story. The Mexican skies, the cobblestone streets, the gorgeous embroidered fabrics, the food on the ofrendas—we brought all those images back.”
Unkrich, Anderson and Jessup were joined by director of photography-lighting Danielle Feinberg and sets art director Nat McLaughlin, among others, in Mexico City, Oaxaca, Tlacolula, Tlalixtac, Abasolo, Guanajuato and Santa María del Tule. “We focused more on Oaxaca and Guanajuato on our second trip,” says Anderson, whose favorite parts of the trip were spending time with families. “They welcomed us into their homes,” she says. “They are the least guarded and most generous people I’ve ever met. We were treated like any other villager or a member of the family. ‘Come in. Eat with us. Laugh with us.’ They made tamales and traditional soup called pozole. It was truly lovely.”
The team took in more altars, markets, haciendas, gardens, churches and plazas—which inspired the film’s fictional city of Santa Cecilia. They saw mariachis performing at Salón Tenampa in Mexico City, and stumbled upon a comparsa—or parade—in Oaxaca. On Día de Muertos, they visited the San Juanito, San Felipe del Agua and Atzompa cemeteries. They found the crowds to be lively and filled with music; they fell in love with Xolo dogs.
Feinberg returned to Mexico in 2013, along with co-director and screenwriter Adrian Molina, character art director Daniel Arriaga, director of photography-camera Matt Aspbury, story artists Manny Hernandez and Octavio Rodriguez and story lead Dean Kelly, among others. This trip was focused mainly in Oaxaca, where the filmmakers returned to some favorite spots and found new treasures, including a chocolate mill. The team visited a huarache (shoe) workshop to garner reference for the Rivera family shoemaking business.
A TALE OF TWO WORLDS
From the Land of the Living to the Land of the Dead:
“Coco” Features Contrasting Worlds and Colorful Characters
“Coco” is set in Mexico in two distinct, but parallel worlds: the Land of the Living and the Land of the Dead. Pixar Animation Studios’ artists were deeply inspired by their research trips. “Mexico is a designer’s dream,” says production designer Harley Jessup. “I knew we would feature the rich color and textures that we saw everywhere.”
But the designers would have to create two complete worlds. For most of the year, these two worlds exist separately but harmoniously side by side. And every year, for one day, they come together in a magical way. “Día de Muertos is like a big family reunion that spans the divide between the living and the dead,” says director Lee Unkrich. “But it isn’t about grieving; it’s a celebration. It’s about remembering those family members and loved ones who’ve passed, and keeping them close.”
Although these worlds were designed in direct contrast to each other, co-director and screenwriter Adrian Molina says they actually share key characteristics. “They’re both filled with color, music and joy,” he says. “The characters—whether living or dead—are optimistic and completely devoted to their families.”
Producer Darla K. Anderson has long been an admirer of the team’s work to populate these worlds. “Somewhere along the line, these characters became real to me,” she says. “They’re unique and are imbued with these very specific personalities. It would be impossible not to fall in love with them. We set out to create characters that are believable and empathetic, transcendent and interesting. They’re larger than life—real, yet utterly fantastical.”
“We knew that we wanted to have as much contrast between the Land of the Living and the Land of the Dead as possible,” says Unkrich. “We looked at ways we could differentiate the worlds. One was time of day—most of the action in Santa Cecilia happens during the day, while it’s nighttime in the Land of the Dead.
“Another way we separated the worlds was through color,” continues Unkrich. “Given the holiday and the iconography, we knew the Land of the Dead had to be a visually vibrant and colorful place, so we deliberately designed Santa Cecilia to be more muted. It’s certainly not depressing or devoid of color, especially since the holiday is happening, and we knew from the beginning that we would embrace Día de Muertos and everything that goes with it.”
The characters who live in the worlds of “Coco” all share one goal: to be remembered.
THE LAND OF THE LIVING
“Santa Cecilia is inspired by real villages in Mexico,” says production designer Jessup. “We stayed grounded in reality in the Land of the Living. It’s sun-bleached and dusty, but the color palette is accented by the brightly colored decorations for Día de Muertos. There’s a town square where people gather, the Rivera compound where Miguel’s great-great-grandmother built the family’s shoe business, and the local cemetery is prominently featured.”
Named after the patroness of music, Santa Cecilia is home to Miguel and the entire Rivera family. While it may be small, it has a major claim to fame, says co-director Adrian Molina. “The most famous musician in all of Mexico was a son of this town,” says Molina. “He started right there in their little plaza. Many years ago, Ernesto de la Cruz rose to stardom and became beloved by the world. As a result, musicians from all over Mexico also come to Santa Cecilia to pay homage to the icon, who remains revered long after his tragic death.”
Jessup and his team were transformed into city planners. They created a layout for the village of Santa Cecilia reflective of a typical rural Mexican town. According to sets supervisor Chris Bernardi, Santa Cecilia is a good example of how story drives the look of the film. “It had to be a small town because there’s a sense that Miguel feels a little confined,” says Bernardi. “And he longs to follow in his idol’s footsteps, who made it out into the bigger world.”
Artists knew that Santa Cecilia had been around a long time—Miguel’s family has lived there for generations. “It’s not a brand-new subdivision,” says Bernardi. “There are adobe buildings and stucco that have been plastered over—they’ve chipped and been repaired a hundred times. You can see the previous two paint jobs showing through. The streets are cobblestone. Nothing is perfect or precise, but it’s clearly well cared for—well loved.”
Adds shading art director Bert Berry, “We wanted to play up the beautiful patina of the older architecture. Our hope was to depict Santa Cecilia as an older charming city, and we used aged building materials such as chipping plaster, hand-painted tile and signage, and cobblestones to accentuate the history and appeal of the town.”
According to director of photography-lighting Danielle Feinberg, filmmakers wanted to contrast Santa Cecilia from the vibrant Land of the Dead without pulling the color from Miguel’s hometown. “We landed on a look that’s more hot and dusty,” she says. “Instead of turning the color down, we let it be colorful paint that over time has been bleached by the sun and aged. We didn’t want to accidentally make things look bleak, it still needed to look like an awesome, appealing town.”
The layout is largely flat with one- and two-story buildings, which influenced the way the scenes there were shot, says director of photography-camera Matt Aspbury. “In general, our camera treatment for Santa Cecilia was simpler and restrained compared with how we shot sequences in the Land of the Dead,” he says. “With the exception of some crane shots that we used to reveal a few of the key locations—such as the town plaza and the cemetery—we mostly stuck to more grounded and intimate staging with Miguel and his family in Santa Cecilia.”
Each set that appears on screen had to be designed from scratch, including architectural details, furnishings and props. But the look isn’t complete until lighting and effects are added, creating the desired look and feel for each scene.
Miguel’s home is adorned for Día de Muertos, including an elaborate ofrenda that holds several framed pictures, flowers, some favorite foods and shoes.
The Rivera shoe workshop was designed to feel oppressive and confined, reflecting Miguel’s feelings about working in the family business. Filled with assorted tools and—of course—shoes, the workshop also makes room for the family to gather.
“Miguel created a hideout in the attic of one of the buildings in a far-flung corner of the family compound where he keeps his collection of records, posters and figurines celebrating his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz,” says director Lee Unkrich.
The hideout is stocked with items filmmakers theorize Miguel has collected over many months, recycling much of it from the trash. He pieced together a makeshift guitar and with a little help from a black marker, decked it out like Ernesto’s signature skull guitar. A battered black-and-white TV and VCR are at the ready, allowing Miguel to watch old video snippets of his idol. “He actually learned to play the guitar by watching those tapes over and over,” says Unkrich, who adds that Miguel’s guitar playing is technically accurate. “Every bit of music that’s performed on screen is authentic,” says Unkrich. “We videotaped musicians playing each song or melody and strapped GoPros on their guitars so we could give the animators tons of reference footage for how their fingers move and play.”
Aspbury says they treated the scene with care. “We wanted very elegant, lyrical camera moves for this intimate moment with Miguel up in his hideout,” he says. “We used gentle drifts and slow arcing moves around Miguel as he plays his guitar with very shallow depth of field to enhance the beauty of the soft-focus foreground candles.”
As the locals prepare for Día de Muertos, the Santa Cecilia cemetery is filled with the brilliantly colored marigolds and celosia blossoms, as well as handmade decorations and hundreds of candles. “What we saw in Mexico for the holiday really redefines the idea of a cemetery,” says Feinberg. “It’s not dark and sad; it’s festive. Thousands of candles put off this beautiful orange glow, which creates a wonderful mood—romantic, warm and interesting. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Ernesto de la Cruz’s mausoleum is fit for a king. “He’s obviously the most famous person the town has ever known,” says Bernardi. “While the other graves are varying levels of humble, Ernesto’s mausoleum is made of stone and white marble. It’s five times bigger than anything in the vicinity. And his famous guitar hangs there.”
The Plaza is the hub of the town where a statue of the legendary musician stands, along with a placard: Seize Your Moment. “Santa Cecilia is where Ernesto rose to stardom,” says co-director and screenwriter Adrian Molina. “As a result, the town attracts musicians from around the world.”
According to Paul Mendoza, crowds supervisor, even the people who congregate in the Plaza reflect the film’s Mexican setting. “In the U.S., we tend to like more distance between us,” he says. “But there’s a lot of hugging in Mexico. So we made sure to create that feeling of togetherness.”
Feinberg, who traveled to Mexico to garner inspiration for the overall lighting, says that while the candlelight was magical, it was an unexpected light that really caught her eye. “Everywhere we went, we saw these fluorescent lights,” she says. “It might now sound as appealing at first—fluorescent light can even be foreboding at times—but to me it has a magical, romantic quality that I just adored and felt very Mexico to me.
“We have a scene that happens right after the sun goes down,” Feinberg continues. “It’s really lovely with bits of orange, pink and purple. And then in the kitchen there’s a green fluorescent light. I wanted to fold that into the scene but wasn’t sure I could get anyone to buy into it, but it looked so good, we had to show it to Lee [Unkrich], who just loved it.”
WHO’S WHO IN THE LAND OF THE LIVING
The characters in the Land of the Living are largely inspired by people the filmmakers met during their travels. “Miguel is surrounded by family members,” says character art director Daniel Arriaga. “He has aunts and uncles, cousins, plus both a grandmother and great-grandmother. So we took that into consideration for our character design to help the audience instantly recognize them as family.”
Miguel is a 12-year-old who struggles against his family’s generations-old ban on music. “Miguel secretly nurtures this love of music,” says director Lee Unkrich. “He’s constructed a guitar and designed it to mimic Ernesto’s iconic skull guitar. And he’s taught himself to play.”
Anthony Gonzalez lends his voice to Miguel. “Anthony’s just a dream,” says producer Darla K. Anderson. ”He’s been playing mariachi music since he was 4 years old, so he really understands Miguel’s love of music and his desire to perform.”
Adds Unkrich, “At our very first recording session, Anthony asked if he could sing for us. He just busted out and sang a cappella. It was beautiful; he has an amazing voice.”
“Miguel and I are alike in many different ways,” says Gonzalez. “We both are 12 years old, we both love our family, and we both love music. I relate to Miguel a lot because we are both very determined and perseverant, we both share the passion for music, and we never give up.”
According to co-director Adrian Molina, Miguel is a relatable character to everyone. “Everyone has dreams,” says Molina. “And with those dreams often comes a question mark: Can I really do this? And Miguel has the added pressure of going against his family’s wishes.”
Adds story supervisor Jason Katz, “Miguel is a good kid who desperately wants to respect his family—he recognizes that they are a big part of him. But this other side of him, the one who loves music, can’t help but pursue this dream.”
Miguel soon discovers that Ernesto de la Cruz is actually part of his family. And when a magical mishap lands Miguel in the Land of the Dead, he learns that the iconic star is the only one who can help him get back to his family in the Land of the Living. Miguel’s journey through the Land of the Dead reveals a lot about his family—and a lot about himself.
Miguel’s cherished great-grandmother Mamá Coco is very old and fragile, but that doesn’t stop Miguel from sharing his daily adventures with her. According to Unkrich, filmmakers were touched by so many of the Mexican homes they visited in which multiple generations lived under the same roof. “Babies were at home alongside their great-grandmothers,” says Unkrich. “We wanted to embrace that. Even as her own memory is slipping away, Mamá Coco will always be surrounded by people who love her.”
One of her biggest fans is Miguel. “It feels like they have a real relationship from the beginning,” says editor Steve Bloom. “It’s very sweet. It’s clear that he really cares about her—whether she can respond to him or not. It’s unconditional love and it is really special.”
Mamá Coco, who filmmakers estimate is about 97 years old, had to look her age. With several generations living in the Rivera family compound, artists and technicians had to find a way to clearly distinguish Mamá Coco from her daughter, and Miguel’s grandmother, Abuelita. But the great-grandmother wears her wrinkles proudly. “All of the detail in her face isn’t actually modeled,” says character supervisor Christian Hoffman, whose team used special software to design a separate layer of detail that was added to Mamá Coco’s face through the shader.
According to Arriaga, Mamá Coco’s age also shows in her movement—or lack thereof. “She moves slowly and doesn’t look directly at who she’s speaking to or who’s speaking to her. And we kept her wardrobe more traditional. She wears a mandil—or apron—with a dress underneath and sandals.”
Ana Ofelia Murguía provides the voice of Mamá Coco. With a film career spanning more than 50 years, she is an actress esteemed as a national treasure of Mexico. “She embodies matriarchal feistiness,” says Anderson. “She’s like the Katharine Hepburn of Mexico.”
Abuelita is Miguel’s grandmother and the ultimate enforcer of the Rivera family rules. She loves her family very much and will do anything to protect them. But when she gets angry, she wields a mean slipper. “Abuelita is the torchbearer when it comes to the family’s rule where music is concerned,” says Unkrich. “She can be warm and loving one moment and sharp-tongued and strict the next. That’s what’s so entertaining about her—you never know what you’re going to get.”
Molina sees a bit of his mother in the character. “She’s doting and loving, but she’ll keep you in line.”
Filmmakers called on Renée Victor to provide the authoritative voice of Abuelita, and though she doesn’t see herself in the character—she found her relatable nonetheless. “I certainly see my 108-year-old mother, Miss Vicki, in her,” says Victor. “Her orders and rules were to be obeyed or else! But she cared. Oh, how she cared!
“I naturally connect to the themes of ‘Coco’ as I was raised in a very cohesive and musical family,” continues Victor. “In fact, I've never known my family with less than four or five living generations. I gleefully remember lots of gatherings, lots of visitors and above all, lots of music. Pianists, guitarists and so many glorious singing voices seemed ubiquitous—especially on Sundays after mass at my grandparents’ house. The visuals of a living room filled with family—children lovingly held in the protective arms of adults—while music and song filled not only our house, but quite possibly our neighborhood, remain firmly etched in the archives of my memory.”
The Rivera family also includes Papá, Miguel’s supportive father, who hopes that someday Miguel will join him in the family shoemaking business. After all, a Rivera is a shoemaker through and through.
Jaime Camil was tapped to voice Papá. “Like any other Pixar project, ‘Coco’ has a beautiful message and a deep and heartfelt connection to family and family values,” says Camil. “But what I really love about this particular project is how accurately they depict the heritage and history of one of the most important celebrations in Mexican culture, El Día de los Muertos. It is evident that Lee, Adrian, Darla and everybody involved in this film did deep and thorough research about what it means and how important it is for our culture. This is no caricature, this shows the real Día de los Muertos, and that will make all of us very proud.”
Miguel’s loving Mamá gently encourages her son to embrace their family’s traditions. She and Papá are expecting a new little brother or sister for Miguel.
Mamá is voiced by Sofía Espinosa. “For me, the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos), is the most beautiful and significant celebration in Mexico. I grew up making ofrendas and going to the graveyard with my grandparents to visit the family that is already gone. There we put flowers and candles on their graves, and it was a celebration, it wasn’t something sad, but the contrary—the place was full of music, and we heard all kinds of stories of the past. I really think that keeping this tradition is a very important thing for Mexicans, and sharing it with the rest of the world makes people understand dead in a different way, by honoring and remembering those who are not with us anymore.”
Dante is a Xolo dog—short for Xoloitzcuintli—the national dog of Mexico. Nearly hairless, Dante has trouble keeping his tongue in his mouth due to his missing teeth—but he’s a loyal companion to Miguel. “Dante is Miguel’s confidant, the only character he shares his music with,” says screenwriter Matthew Aldrich.
“We actually invited some Xolo dogs to visit the studio,” says Arriaga. “We had a lot of fun designing Dante. We gave him patchy skin, he has a broken ear, he’s walleyed and his tongue is always hanging out.”
Dante’s tongue has a life of its own, says Hoffman. “As we learned what kind of performance Lee [Unkrich] wanted from Dante, we knew we’d have to do something special for the tongue. We had just created a tentacle rig for Hank in ‘Finding Dory’ and we felt like that would be perfect for Dante’s tongue, which is long and stretchy. Hank’s rig is really robust and provided animation with a lot of flexibility and control.”
Dante’s skin, however, proved more challenging. “He’s a hairless dog,” says Hoffman, “so we couldn’t use fur to hide any inconsistencies. Xolo dogs also have a lot of wrinkles, so we made Dante’s model a higher resolution model in order to dial in those wrinkles. Because he’s a street dog, he’s a little emaciated, so we had to make sure we could get a sense of his rib cage.”
Referenced as far back as 3,500 years, the breed was named for the Aztec god Xolotl, plus the Aztec word for dog, Itzcuintli. Thought to safeguard the home from evil spirits and intruders, the Xolo dog is said to have healing powers. Says supervising animator Mike Venturini, “Sometimes the strange and awkward ends up being strangely appealing, which I think is the case with Dante. We found a lot of opportunity to show Dante’s rather uncoordinated tendencies—and he always seems to have a big grin on his face.”
The Land of the Living also features the voices of Lombardo Boyar as the Plaza Mariachi and John Ratzenberger as Juan Ortodoncia.
THE MARIGOLD BRIDGE
As filmmakers created the two worlds of “Coco,” they knew they’d need to connect the worlds in a very magical way. Their research trips sparked something spectacular. “When we were invited to take part in Día de Muertos in Mexico,” says director Lee Unkrich, “we saw paths made of marigold petals that started out in the streets and ended at ofrendas—altars with family pictures, favorite foods and special objects. We learned that it was all done to help guide the spirit of a family’s loved one home.”
The marigold petals made such an impression on the filmmakers they decided to build a bridge out of the brilliant orange petals. “It’s elegant and magical,” says production designer Harley Jessup. “Its shape recalls the ancient aqueducts we saw in Mexico, and its brilliant orange color symbolizes connection to family.”
Danielle Feinberg, director of photography-lighting, had mixed feelings about the bridge of magical marigold petals. “It’s one of those things when you know it’s going to be crazy hard, but quite possibly the coolest thing ever,” she says, adding that the petals were actually light sources. “We have a new kind of light called a particle light that can have many, many points in it. Our special effects team gave us a way that we can automatically know which petals a person is stepping on as they cross the bridge and control the glow the petals emit creating little spots of light as someone walks through.”
“It was a huge technical challenge for us,” says effects supervisor Michael K. O’Brien, whose team studied video reference they found online of big volumes of rose petals. “It is so visually exciting with petals dripping from it; it was a massive artistic undertaking. We wanted it to glow—to feel alive.
“We thought of the surface as leaves,” O’Brien continues. “If you were to walk through the petals, your feet will kick them up.”
O’Brien and his team added a trough of petals in the paths of the characters walking across the bridge to best achieve the look of displaced petals. “And then we track a light that sits underneath the petals that adds the glow as a character steps down.”
According to O’Brien, the outer portion of the bridge includes petals that rain down. A set of lights and shading signals pulse on and off throughout the bridge—all done to make the bridge feel alive.
“On top of all of that, we have these hero moments,” says O’Brien. “Miguel actually scoops up a handful of petals from the bridge, and Héctor —in an attempt to get into the Land of the Living even though nobody has his photo on an ofrenda—runs onto the bridge, only to sink into the petals.”
Those hero moments were given extra-special art direction, plus additional effects to achieve the looks—all of which required a lot more time and precision.
THE LAND OF THE DEAD
For the Land of the Living and Santa Cecilia, filmmakers were able to find inspiration in the vibrant towns they visited in Mexico. But when it came time to create the Land of the Dead, the rules were much less defined. “I didn’t want to have just a free-for-all, wacky world,” says director Lee Unkrich. “There needed to be some logic to it. We realized that it would need to be ever-expanding because new residents would arrive regularly, if you think about it. So we asked ourselves, ‘What would a world look like that was being added onto constantly?’”
Filmmakers looked to Mexico City’s ancient history. The city was originally built on the site of the Aztec city of Tenochtitlán, which was surrounded by water. And while that water has mostly disappeared, artists found the idea very compelling—a city literally sprung from the water. “That lent itself to this idea of towers,” says Unkrich. “Almost like coral growing up and out representing layers of history.”
Adds production designer Harley Jessup, “Mesoamerican pyramids are at the base with Spanish colonial architecture built on top. And it just keeps going—period by period, layer by layer, as people continue to arrive. There are even construction cranes at the ready to prepare for future residents.”
The vertical layout, nighttime setting and water base proved a brilliant canvas for the palette. “When Miguel arrives in this fantastical new world, we wanted it to be a vibrant explosion of color,” Jessup says. “For the Land of the Dead, Lee [Unkrich] described a vertical world of towers, contrasting with the flatness of Santa Cecilia. The lights and reflections are dazzling and there’s a crazy transportation system that connects it all. The costume colors are much more vibrant than in the Land of the Living, where we tried to stay grounded in reality. We really went all out in the Land of the Dead to make it a reflection of the holiday.”
According to director of photography-lighting Danielle Feinberg, the first glimpse of the Land of the Dead was the first the team tackled. “There’s so much geometry on screen at once that it’s pretty staggering,” she says. “On top of that, we added street lights, lights for the plazas, architectural lighting on bigger buildings, blue lights along the trolley tracks, pinlights that outline the edges of many buildings, headlights on the moving vehicles, lights on the construction cranes and more. There is a lot going on.”
Supervising technical director David Ryu explains how they were able to render the millions of lights the scene called for. “We figured out a way to introduce a single light—but give it a million points,” he says. “The renderer sees it as one light, but we see a million lights.”
Ryu’s team also found a way to embed lights in buildings, as well as automating the process so that the computer would add the lights to the buildings in predetermined color combinations.
As the technology began to fall into place, Feinberg and her team realized they needed to figure out how best to showcase that the Land of the Dead goes on forever, but allow it to fade into the distance. By mixing color with fog from the effects team, they were able to create stunning dimension and a sense of scope and depth.
For director of photography-camera Matt Aspbury, the Land of the Dead inspired more dramatic cinematography. “The Land of the Dead’s verticality contrasts sharply with the more horizontal layout of Santa Cecilia,” he says. “It’s made up of enormous city towers that go on indefinitely and it’s populated with all sorts of flying creatures (alebrijes), gondolas and trolleys traveling among them. To capture the scope of it all, we used lots of wide lenses, big crane moves and dynamic aerial shots.”
With narrow, cobblestone streets (some of the pavers are shaped like bones) winding up and around the tower structures, and trolleys and gondolas adding motion to the vibrant world, the Land of the Dead is bustling and beautiful, home to a host of dynamic locations.
Marigold Grand Central Station is a bustling transportation hub. Filmmakers designed the expansive hub with an advanced transportation system that includes trolleys and gondolas. “The whole complex is inspired by the Palacio de Correos—the main post office in Mexico City,” says Jessup. “It’s a beautiful turn-of-the-century building with a gilded cast-iron structure. The Mercado Hidalgo in Guanajuato and the Bradbury Building in L.A. were also big influences—that whole Victorian period of cast-iron architecture was exciting to embrace.
“We looked a lot to José Guadalupe Posada, who created wonderful engravings that parody the Victorian society in Mexico,” continues Jessup. “His take on early 20th century Mexican culture was an inspiration for a lot of our Victorian characters.”
According to crowds technical supervisor Jane Yen, Pixar pushed the number of background characters that it could create for scenes like the Marigold Grand Central Station and others. It also pushed the quality of characters it could create. “We basically use the assets that are delivered from characters and simulation,” says Yen. “We take those assets and make them more flexible for our crowd system. We cache out a lot of that geometry into what we call model clips that allows us to quickly and easily manipulate thousands of characters at a time.”
Located within Marigold Grand Central Station is the Department of Family Reunions, where all of the family records are kept. According to Jessup, the space is designed in the spirit of a “Victorian DMV,” with skull and skeleton motifs incorporated into the architecture.
Families come to the Department of Family Reunions if they’re having problems with crossing over to the Land of the Living. Employed here is a clerk, who assists Miguel and his family in his cluttered, but cozy office.
Miguel and Héctor go to a shanty town in search of a guitar from Héctor’s friend Chicharrón so they can enter a talent show and win admission to Ernesto de la Cruz’s “Sunrise Spectacular” party. “Chicharrón is a bit of a hoarder who’s surrounded by his belongings,” says Jessup.
While the color in Chicharrón’s shack is somewhat limited to reflect his situation, filmmakers gave the shanty town a loving feel. “There are boardwalks over water with patches of fog, and moonlight and firelight dancing on the water,” says Feinberg.
Ernesto de la Cruz’s mansion in the Land of the Dead showcases his fans’ love for him. Says sets supervisor Chris Bernardi, “He has an ofrenda room, where there are giant spirals of musical instruments, as well as food and other items people around the world have offered him on their altars. It's beautiful.
“The whole mansion features really intricate architectural work,” continues Bernardi. “We were inspired by grand estates like Hearst Castle—with acres and acres of gardens, terraces, pools and dozens of ornate interior rooms. Ernesto has his own polo field, so his world within the Land of the Dead is quite lavish.”
“Ernesto’s mansion is inspired by the movie palaces of the 1930s,” says Jessup. “It’s an eclectic mix of Spanish, Moorish and Art Deco, built in a massive scale to match his personality.”
Ernesto de la Cruz throws a party each Día de los Muertos. “It’s by invitation only,” says co-director Adrian Molina. “It’s a huge celebration held at the top of his tower.”
According to Bernardi, Ernesto’s tower is easy to spot. “There are giant party lights coming off the top,” he says. “It’s almost like a movie premiere.”
“The party is completely over the top,” adds Feinberg. “It is crazy chaos. We crank up the color.”
As for the attendees, Ernesto’s party is a high-end affair—guests are dressed to the nines. “Everyone is very fancy, wearing gowns, holding drinks,” says crowds supervisor Paul Mendoza.
Rendering supervisor Susan Fong played a critical role in making it possible to render a crowd that size. “Cloth is one of the heaviest things to render because you need a lot of detail—a lot of points—to achieve the right drape,” says Fong, whose team figured out a way to reduce the number of points in a cloth render for background characters that were farther away.
WHO’S WHO IN THE LAND OF THE DEAD
Inhabiting the Land of the Dead is a rich and vibrant community. But these characters had to be built without many of the usual traits because they are all skeletons. “We had to figure out how to give them personality without skin, muscles, noses or even lips,” says character art director Daniel Arriaga. “We played with shapes and did a lot of paintings. We sculpted and studied skulls from every angle to figure out where we could add appeal and charm.”
Global technology supervisor J.D. Northrup came on board early in the production to address potential issues for “Coco”—and creating skeletons certainly qualified. “The skeletons can detach their bones and do little gags. Even their vertebrae comes apart,” says Northrup. “Each piece had to be independent so the complexity of the rig and the stress that it puts on the pipeline were something like we've never seen before.”
Alongside the characters team who built the skeleton rigs, Northrup’s team was tasked with finding ways to simplify the elements—for example, collapsing all of the independent bones into one batch following animation and lighting—to make the final rendering of crowds possible.
According to character modeling and articulation lead Michael Honsel, the process of creating appealing skeletons involved several additional controls. “They need to move in ways that humans don't, so we added controls in new places to allow animators to jiggle them, move their rib cages around and bow the bones.
“The faces were challenging because bone is rigid,” Honsel continues, “so we had to
think of smart ways to make our characters emote. The goal was to find appealing mouth and face shapes that could get feeling across, but still feel like bone.”
Artists played with plane changes and jaw movement—allowing the entire jawbone to drop in some cases—and added controls around the eyes and sockets to mimic brow movement. “There was a lot of back-and-forth with animation to get it right,” says Honsel. “But we ultimately found really cool ways to move our skeleton characters.”
According to supervising animator Gini Santos, rules were established early in production that guided the skeletons’ movement. “We always like to go a little scientific before we start our animation,” she says. “We realized that without any of the organs, muscles and skin, the character would only be about 20 percent of the original weight. So our rules with regard to animation timing definitely changed. And we wanted to bend, pull and push them in ways that we normally wouldn’t because they're not bound by the limitations of skin.”
Adds supervising animator Michael Venturini, “They’re held together with a life force and the strength of that force depends on how well remembered they are,” he says. “It’s like a rubber band—the more remembered someone is, the more taut the rubber band. And the closer to being forgotten someone is, the looser the rubber band. Each skeleton is animated with a different level of separation between bones based on how well remembered they are.”
The luster of their bones also illustrates the level of remembrance. According to character supervisor Christian Hoffman, the team developed a skeleton shader. “The skeletons range from Ernesto de la Cruz, who is the most remembered and the most pristine, to Héctor and Chicharrón who are the most forgotten,” he says. “The skeleton shader helped artists dial in the levels of being remembered. The better someone is remembered, the more present their face paint looks, and their bones are clean and bright. On the flip side, those characters who aren’t so well remembered have yellowing, dingier, more battered bones and face paint that’s been chipped away. The shader gave us a lot of flexibility.”
Héctor, a charming trickster in the Land of the Dead, enlists Miguel’s help to visit the Land of the Living. “He desperately wants to cross the bridge of marigolds on Día de los Muertos,” says co-director Adrian Molina. “But there's a rule that if no one in the Land of the Living is actively remembering you—if no one has put your photo up on an ofrenda—then there's no one in the Land of the Living to receive you and you cannot cross over.”
Unfortunately, Héctor is not well remembered and it’s taking a toll on him. “He’s in pretty bad shape,” says director Lee Unkrich. “He walks with a limp, his bones are yellowing and loose and jangly. One of his ribs is cracked and he wears a bandage around his left tibia. Even when he walks down the street, he tends to drop his limbs—his hand might fall off unexpectedly and he has to pick it up and stick it back on.”
Eager to improve his condition, Héctor promises to help Miguel find Ernesto de la Cruz, and in return, Miguel agrees to take Héctor’s photo back to his family’s ofrenda. But their journey through the Land of the Dead isn’t exactly easy. Says Molina, “Miguel is a living boy, so he draws a lot of attention in the Land of the Dead. And Ernesto de la Cruz is still a big star, which makes things very complicated.”
Gael García Bernal lends his voice to Héctor. “We’ve long been fans of Gael,” says Unkrich. “He’s been in some incredible films. And when we saw his him on ‘Mozart in the Jungle,’ we knew we’d found our Héctor. He’s funny and so incredibly charming. Everything about him is intoxicating.”
“I have two little kids, so I see these films all the time,” says Bernal. “I dreamt of working with Pixar, but to do a project that is such a complex and transversal story, which also happens to take place in Mexico where I’m from, was just amazing. Everything appealed to me: the music, the color, the story, the characters—everything.”
Bernal likens his character to another—Baloo from “The Jungle Book.” “When I was a kid, I was struck by Baloo’s laid-back philosophy on life. And I feel that in many ways, Héctor doesn’t hold onto frustrations, prejudices or resentment. Héctor may be a little on the thin side, but he’s very funny.”
Bernal delivers a very dynamic performance, showcasing the character’s big personality. Says Honsel, “Héctor has a lot of range in his performance, which called for more tricked-out controls over his face. We even added controls to move his wig around—it can slide around on his skull with or without his hat, which was a real challenge.”
That hat and the rest of Héctor’s wardrobe weren’t easy, says cloth and simulation supervisor Christine Waggoner. “He has so many simulated elements,” she says. “He has a neckerchief and simulated suspenders. He has a satchel and ropes around his waist. He has holes in his clothing, plus his hair and hat on top of that.”
According to Waggoner, the layers are difficult to achieve in computer animation. Added to that is the unusual structure of the character. “We don’t want him to read like he’s emaciated, but like a skeleton,” she says. “It’s a tough balance to achieve.”
Supervising technical director David Ryu agrees. “We have pushed that next level of technology in cloth at Pixar,” he says. “Putting cloth on a skeleton is difficult from a visual artistic perspective. We didn’t want them to look like regular people with skeleton hands once the clothing was placed—we had to see that they were skeletons beneath the clothing.”
According to Ryu, there was a lot of trial and error. “In early tests, cloth would get stuck between the bones,” he says. “The tools we’d traditionally used to combat that took away from that bony feel.”
The end result was an improved process that enhanced all cloth simulation, allowing the digital tailors more freedom moving forward to layer garments.
Miguel’s idol Ernesto de la Cruz, is the most famous musician in the history of Mexico. Revered by fans worldwide until his untimely death, the charming and charismatic musician is even more beloved in the Land of the Dead. “Ernesto de la Cruz’s catchphrase was ‘Seize your moment,’” says Unkrich. “And Miguel takes that to heart.”
Adds story supervisor Jason Katz, “Ernesto is a symbol of someone who faced adversity, yet found success through music. Miguel holds onto that in hopes that he can follow a similar path.”
The star of stage and screen—revered for his silky-smooth voice, good looks, unmatched charisma and unforgettable lyrics—plays an iconic guitar with a skull motif and a mother-of-pearl inlay. With more than 20 songs, six albums and seven feature films highlighting his illustrious career, Ernesto is best known for his hit song “Remember Me.”
To support Miguel’s adoration of Ernesto, filmmakers realized they would need to build the career of the fictional performer. Molina teamed up with songwriter/composer Germaine Franco to write some of the songs in Ernesto’s repertoire. “Music is important to Miguel and it anchors Ernesto’s character,” says Molina. “So we wanted to write a few songs that would demonstrate the kind of performer that Ernesto was and maybe show what makes him so popular.”
According to Arriaga, Ernesto’s design was influenced by a host of Mexican celebrities. “Number one would be a really famous singer and actor from Mexico from the 1930s and ’40s. We also looked at an actor during the Golden Age of Mexican film, and—a more modern reference—Vicente Fernández, who’s still winning Grammys®. They gave us ideas in terms of costumes, hair, his pencil-thin mustache, confidence, body type and posture.”
The character is introduced through Miguel’s posters, record albums and videotapes—but he’s long since passed onto the Land of the Dead. Says Arriaga, “We were able to carry over many of his traits, even the cleft chin, but had to figure out a way to do it without skin and muscles. It was important that he be immediately recognized when we see him in the Land of the Dead.”
The trick, says Arriaga, was making a skeleton appear charismatic and appealing. “We did a lot of paint-overs in Photoshop,” he says. “We sculpted clay skeleton heads so that we could see it in three dimensions, which really helped. We could take pictures of the sculptures from every angle and paint on top of them in the computer.”
According to Jessup, it was important that Ernesto stood out in a crowd. “He’s the star wherever he goes,” says the production designer. “So he’s the only character in the Land of the Dead dressed in all white.”
Shading art director Bert Berry says the wardrobe for Ernesto matched his upscale persona. “He wears a suede mariachi-like jacket with sequins, jewels and gold stitching,” says Berry. “Adding that kind of detail in modeling can make the garment extremely heavy geometrically, and it can also be difficult to shade convincingly. The tailoring and characters departments did an amazing job creating a richly detailed costume for Ernesto.”
Benjamin Bratt provides the voice of Ernesto de la Cruz. “We needed someone who could be completely lovable and winsome with a sparkling personality,” says Molina. “Benjamin has this presence—especially when he gets into character and puffs out his chest. He has this swagger and this smile and a sparkle in his eye. He’s buoyant and charming and completely accessible. Even though we’re only using his voice, his performance inspired the animators and the character.”
"Part of my inspiration for Ernesto was my father,” says Bratt. “He was the kind of man that commanded attention whatever room he was in. Though not nearly as suave as de la Cruz, my pops had that big personality that could win anybody over.
“De la Cruz himself is a complex character,” continues Bratt, “arguably even more famous in the Land of the Dead than he was while alive. And of course, like any great star, he eats the attention up; he’s come to rely on it.”
The actor found the film’s key theme relatable. "As a boy growing up, family was the center of my universe,” he says. “My mother constantly reminded us of the sacrifice her grandmother made to bring her to the U.S. as a teen in pursuit of the dream for a better life, as well as the pain of leaving so many dear relatives behind. Our abuelos, tíos, and primos back in the homeland—grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins we had yet to meet—emerged as characters in the stories she would share with us, unmet family members we felt we knew simply from my mother’s fond remembrance of them. This idea of being ‘connected’ to those we love, no matter the space, time or geography, resonates deeply for me, and I imagine, for most of us in the world. This is what makes ‘Coco’ so special, that it not only focuses on this connectivity, but celebrates it.”
Mamá Imelda, Miguel’s great-great-grandmother, is the matriarch of the Rivera family and the founder of their successful shoemaking business. Miguel meets Mamá Imelda in the Land of the Dead and discovers she really does not share his passion for music. “Imelda is the source of the family’s ban on music,” says Unkrich. “Long ago, she was married to a musician, but she found that he had very different priorities in life. She wanted to raise a family, but he couldn’t let go of his love of music.”
Alanna Ubach, who provides the voice of Mamá Imelda, says that her experience as a young person pursuing a career in the arts is different from Miguel’s in the movie. “Following one's dreams resonates with me and my upbringing,” she says. “My mother and father were passionate advocates of the arts, which had a profound influence on me and my decision to act professionally.”
In order to return to the Land of the Living, Miguel needs a magic marigold petal and the blessing of a family member. The magic required collaboration between effects, lighting and art to achieve the director’s vision. According to effects supervisor Michael K. O’Brien, the team was tasked with giving the petal an increasingly brighter glow. “There’s no reference for something like that,” he says. “We wanted something dynamic that fits into this world.”
Unfortunately, Mamá Imelda insists on adding a key condition to her blessing. “She’s desperately trying to keep Miguel from making the same mistakes her husband did,” says Katz. “She makes for a much more interesting antagonistic force when you realize that there’s a lot of love behind her actions.”
Frida Kahlo is the legendary Mexican artist who is working on an elaborate performance piece for Ernesto de la Cruz’ Sunrise Spectacular. In their quest to find Ernesto in the Land of the Dead, Miguel and Héctor encounter Frida and her alebrije monkey.
“Frida Kahlo is a captivating icon in Mexico’s history,” said Unkrich. “Her art, strength and resilience inspired us in so many ways. Her cameo in ‘Coco’ pays homage to Ms. Kahlo, her work and the people of Mexico who love her.”
Natalia Cordova-Buckley lends her voice to Frida Kahlo. “I’ve been chasing the spirit of Frida Kahlo my entire life, so to be able to give voice to the woman that taught me the freedom and strength of my own is not just an honor but profoundly magical!”
Pepita is an alebrije who fills the role of Mamá Imelda’s spirit guide. Brightly colored and fiercely loyal, Pepita is a formidable presence in the Land of the Dead. An imposing wildcat with eagle talons and impressive wings, Pepita is an alebrije brought-to-life. “Alebrijes are traditional brightly colored and handcrafted Mexican folk art,” says Katz. “They’re dreamlike animals—lizards with rabbit ears, elephants with butterfly wings—beautifully rendered with striking colors, and we knew from the moment we saw them that they needed to have a place in our story.”
According to character modeling and articulation lead Michael Honsel, Pepita called for a feather rig. Fortunately, one had been created for “Finding Dory,” which gave the team a starting point, though helping the massive alebrije take flight proved challenging due to her weight and body structure. The character was designed to dazzle, so Honsel’s team had to trick her out. “We wanted to make sure that animation had enough controls to make her look impressive. We gave her cool characteristics like retractable claws and a menacing roar, and a cool rig for her tongue allows it to be shaped in an organic way.”
Inspired by the vibrant alebrijes they saw in Mexico, artists wanted to make sure Pepita had a brilliant and bold design, reflecting that of the folk art. But her furry exterior made it challenging to give her elaborate patterns. “We tested different designs with different lengths of fur before we landed on the right look for Pepita,” says character supervisor Christian Hoffman.
Effects supervisor Michael K. O’Brien and his team were called on to add magic to her movements. “Pepita is larger than life,” he says. “We wanted her magical powers to reflect her power, but still fit the story point of Pepita being a tracker.”
Miguel’s ancestors also include his great-grandfather Papá Julio, voiced by Alfonso Arau; his identical twin uncles Tío Oscar and Tío Felipe, who are voiced by Herbert Siguenza; and his late aunts Tía Rosita, voiced by Selene Luna, and Tía Victoria, voiced by Dyana Ortelli.
Chicharrón is a curmudgeonly friend of Héctor’s who is sadly being forgotten—an unfortunate condition in the Land of the Dead. Says Anderson, “Chicharrón is a lonely guy who surrounds himself with all the things he loves, including a guitar.”
According to Hoffman, artists wanted to differentiate Chicharrón from his Land of the Dead counterparts. “The character is literally falling apart—his femur has been replaced with a pipe,” says Hoffman. “We had to show that he is the most forgotten character of anybody in the film. He has a lot more chips and grooves in his face. In order to get that detail, we did a high-res sculpting pass on him that allowed us to add age to his cheeks, his jawline, mouth and eyebrows. By pushing that displacement, it shows that he’s been around a long time.”
Chicharrón is voiced by Edward James Olmos.
Also featured in the Land of the Dead are the Head Clerk in the Department of Family Reunions, voiced by Gabriel Iglesias; a Departures Agent, voice by Carla Medina; the Emcee of a colorful talent show, voiced by Blanca Araceli; a Security Guard, voiced by Salvador Reyes; a Corrections Officer, voiced by Cheech Marin; and an Arrival Agent in Marigold Grand Central Station, voiced by playwright Octavio Solis.
THE MAGIC OF MUSIC
“Coco” Features Original Songs, A Memorable Score
and Traditional Mexican Sounds
“Coco” is about family, connecting with loved ones and pursuing your dreams. And according to director Lee Unkrich, it’s all rooted in music. “‘Coco’ has music in its DNA,” says Unkrich. “Music shapes the film. Some characters are musicians, while others want nothing to do with it.”
Co-director Adrian Molina says that the Rivera family’s ban on music did not deter the “Coco” filmmakers. “Our main character, Miguel, is so passionate about music and he is really talented,” says Molina. “So his journey to pursue his dream is naturally filled with music. We have traditional Mexican music, original songs written for the film and a beautiful score by Michael Giacchino.”
According to Unkrich, the filmmakers wanted the film to honor its setting, but with an unexpected quality. “We encouraged the team to be true to traditional Mexican music, but gave them the freedom to embrace new sounds,” he says.
“Our main goal is for the audience to walk away from the film feeling like they visited Santa Cecilia and spent time in the Land of the Dead,” adds Tom MacDougall, executive vice president of music at Disney. “If we can give them an authentic musical experience, it will help them make a lasting connection to the film.”
“Coco” features an original score from composer Michael Giacchino, who wrote the Oscar®-winning score for Disney•Pixar’s 2009 film “Up.” The composer says he selects his projects based on his initial reaction to the story. “I want to feel something that I can translate into music,” says Giacchino. “When I saw ‘Coco,’ a mosaic of emotions came over me. It made me think about my family and my connections to relatives back in Italy. This film speaks to everyone.”
Giacchino’s relationship with world music began as a child, listening to records in his family’s basement. “When I was 9 years old, I found an album with music of Mexico,” he says. “I listened to it over and over. I loved it because it was so melodic and lyrical. It was emotional—almost like listening to poetry.”
Although Giacchino would later study Mexican music as part of his education, he says the opportunity to work on “Coco” opened up a world of exploration. “We wanted the score to feel like it was born out of the world,” he says. “That meant making sure that we were using indigenous instruments and pushing for authenticity in every way.”
Giacchino worked with Germaine Franco, who composed the score for 2015’s “Dope,” to realize an engaging and specific sound. “She illuminated the complex richness of Mexican music so well,” said Giacchino. “The collaboration between all the musicians on this film has been a beautiful experience.”
Franco is Mexican American and grew up on the border of Mexico and Texas listening to all kinds of Mexican music. She explored a wide array of Mexican instrumentation in the score, including a guitarrón, folkloric harp, quijada, sousaphone, charchetas, jaranas, requintos, marimba, trumpets and violins.
According to Giacchino, key characters in the film inspired special themes. For Miguel, the composer wanted to find a theme befitting the character’s age. “I wanted it to feel like this young kid who has aspirations,” says Giacchino. “He knows where he wants to go, but doesn’t know how to get there.
“I wanted the music to feel jubilant to represent Miguel’s desire to be an artist,” continues Giacchino. “I wrote it on the piano, but as soon as we heard it on the guitar—Miguel’s instrument of choice—I thought, ‘THAT’S the sound we are looking for!’”
For Héctor, Giacchino wanted to capture the character’s trickster tendencies. “He has a quirky little waltz,” says the composer. “I looked at Héctor as a vacuum salesman. He’s friendly and helpful, but in the back of your mind, you know he’s selling something.”
Giacchino created two themes to represent the idea of family, aptly reflecting the core of the story itself. “One theme embodies the history of the family, while the other represents home—safe, warm, secure.”
The score was recorded in August featuring an 83-piece orchestra.
“Coco” also features traditional Mexican songs as source music, to bring to life Miguel’s town of Santa Cecilia. “Even though music isn’t allowed in his home, Miguel finds inspiration in the musicians who perform in his hometown plaza,” says co-director and screenwriter Adrian Molina. “Santa Cecilia—home of superstar Ernesto de la Cruz—is so full of music, it inspires Miguel to want to be a musician.”
Source music can be heard in the Plaza—played by mariachis, a jarocho group on the bandstand and guitar players Miguel approaches in his quest to prove his talent. A mix of traditional and contemporary Mexican music gives ambiance several scenes.
Franco and musical consultant Camilo Lara of the music project Mexican Institute of Sound were called on to help create the soundscape of Miguel’s world, along with the assistance of cultural consultants Benjamín Juárez Echenque and Marcela Davison Avilés. Lara joined the music team early, helping filmmakers navigate various moments from the film through the spectrum of Mexican music—from cumbia to mariachi music. Said Lara, “From day one, the whole idea was to be as authentic as possible. We listened to a lot of music—from sophisticated to street. I think we managed to present a beautiful mosaic of the vast diversity of our music.
“I was also responsible for a magical session in Mexico City,” continues Lara. “We recorded a wide range of top Mexican musicians of many genres—banda, marimba, mariachi and son jarocho. We had top Mexican maestros. It was a mind-blowing experience.”
The roster of musicians includes Banda Tierra Mojada, Marimba Nandayapa and Mono Blanco, among others. Filmmakers recorded a host of musical styles and instruments, including guitarrón jarocho.
Original Songs – “Remember Me”
To help bring Miguel’s passion to life, filmmakers enlisted the talents of notable songwriters, including the Oscar®-winning team behind Walt Disney Animation Studios’ 2013 feature “Frozen,” Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. For “Coco,” they penned the thematic song “Remember Me,” which is the signature song for beloved performer Ernesto de la Cruz in the movie, and is heard multiple times throughout the film. “The song is from the point of view of a person hoping to be remembered by a loved one,” said Anderson-Lopez. “But the lyric can be interpreted a few different ways depending on the tempo and tone of the music.”
End Credit Version
Grammy®-winning singers Miguel and Natalia Lafourcade teamed up to record the end-credit version of “Remember Me,” which Miguel and Steve Mostyn produced. “The song is special because it is about family and remembering where we come from,” says Miguel. “It’s a reminder to be appreciative of the love and sacrifice that those before us had to make in order for us to be who we are. I think the message in the song is powerful enough to connect with everyone, but we’re adding another layer of depth and soul to the emotion of the song in this version.”
Miguel, whose father hails from Mexico’s Zamora, Michoacán, won his first Grammy® for best R&B song for the lead single “Adorn” in 2013. Written and produced by Miguel, the song became the longest running No. 1 single in the history of the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart. He made his acting debut this year in Ben Affleck’s Prohibition-era drama “Live by Night.”
Mexican singer-songwriter Lafourcade signed with Sony Music at age 17. Since then she has received eight Latin Grammy® awards, among them best rock album for “Casa” (2005), best alternative album for “Mujer Divina - Homenaje a Agustín Lara” (2013) and five for the breakthrough “Hasta La Raíz” (2015), which also won a 2016 Grammy for best Latin, rock, urban or alternative album. Her latest project “Musas” (2017), focusing on folk traditions, is “an emotional and graceful homage to Latin American music,” according to Billboard. “I feel very excited to be part of a Pixar movie because I have loved those films ever since I was little,” says Lafourcade. “I really enjoyed singing a song that gives life, color and joy to our Mexican traditions, as the Day of the Dead is one of my favorite traditions and celebrations of our culture.”
Original Songs – “Un Poco Loco,” “Everyone Knows Juanita,” “The World Es Mi Familia,” “Proud Corazón”
Franco teamed up with Molina to write several original songs for the film, including “Un Poco Loco,” a song in the son jarocho style of Mexican music performed by Miguel and Héctor on stage in the Land of the Dead. Says Franco, “I felt this was a chance for me to share my love of Latin music, specifically Mexican music, as well as celebrate my own personal culture. We really wanted to marry this idea of original music with elements of Mexican music to create a unique balance of sound, harmony and rhythm.”
For a scene featuring Chicharrón, an old friend of Héctor’s, Molina also wrote “Everyone Knows Juanita” with Franco. “Chicharrón is on the verge of being forgotten, so he requests one last song,” says Molina. “I wrote the lyrics to the song—it’s a lullaby that skirts the edge of sentimental, but is also very tongue-in-cheek. We wanted it to play both the humor and emotion of the scene.”
In an effort to get Ernesto de la Cruz’s attention, Miguel sings “The World Es Mi Familia” late in the film. “I wrote the song with the idea that it’s one that Ernesto sang in one of his movies,” says Molina. “It’s a proclamation: ‘Music is my language. It connects me to the broader world.’ I think it’s an aspirational sentiment.”
“Proud Corazón” was penned for the final scene in the movie. “The lyrics in this song are probably the most personal to me,” says Molina. “It’s about filling your heart with the pride you have for your family, where you come from and who you’re connected to. [It] speaks to this connection across generations—between the Land of the Living and the Land of the Dead. Our thoughts, the memories in our hearts make it possible that our loved ones are always with us.”
The “Coco” soundtrack is available on Nov. 10 from Walt Disney Records wherever music is sold and streamed. For more information on Walt Disney Records’ releases, check out Facebook.com/disneymusic, Twitter.com/disneymusic and Instagram.com/disneymusic.
ABOUT THE VOICE TALENT
ANTHONY GONZALEZ (voice of Miguel) has been performing since a very young age. Along with his sisters and brothers, he sang on Sundays at La Placita Olvera in downtown Los Angeles, a place of local folklore and Hispanic influence. Gonzalez went on to perform in major arenas, including Pico Rivera Sports Arena and Plaza Mexico in Lynwood, Calif., among others.
At age 4, Gonzalez walked into the oldest Hispanic talent agency in Los Angeles, the Alvarado Rey Agency, belting out a mariachi—he was signed on the spot. TV and theater credits include “Criminal Minds,” “The Bridge,” “Ice Box” and “Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles” in the outdoor theater at the Getty Villa.
As a singer, Gonzalez has performed for popular TV programs, including “Sábado Gigante,” “The Voice,” “The X Factor” and “Despierta América,” among others. Every year he volunteers to sing for Teletón USA, a Univision initiative that brings together Latin Americans to improve the lives of sick children.
GAEL GARCÍA BERNAL (voice of Héctor ) gained critical acclaim and a Golden Globe® for best actor in a comedy series for his role in “Mozart in the Jungle” in 2016. Amazon’s web series also won a Golden Globe for best comedy series. In 2017, Bernal received a Golden Globe nomination for best actor in a comedy series for his role in the second season. The series returned for its third season on December 9, 2016; Bernal is currently in production on season four of the series.
Having worked as an actor since childhood in Mexico, Bernal made his feature film debut in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Academy Award®-nominated “Amores Perros.” Bernal’s breakthrough performance in the universally acclaimed film earned him a Silver Ariel Award (Mexico’s equivalent of the Oscar®) as well as a Silver Hugo Award at the Chicago International Film Festival, both as best actor.
Bernal’s next film role was in another globally celebrated feature, Alfonso Cuarón’s Academy Award®-nominated “Y Tu Mamá También” (And Your Mother Too), starring opposite his lifelong friend Diego Luna. For their performances, the friends jointly received the Marcello Mastroianni Award at the Venice International Film Festival.
Bernal subsequently starred in the title role of Carlos Carrera’s Academy Award®-nominated romantic drama “El Crimen del Padre Amaro” (The Crime of Father Amaro). His performance earned him the Silver Goddess Award for best actor from the Mexican Cinema Journalists, as well as a nomination from the Chicago Film Critics’ Association for most promising performer.
Bernal also starred in “The Motorcycle Diaries” (Diarios de una motocicleta), receiving a BAFTA and Satellite Award nomination in 2005 for best actor for his work. In 2006, Bernal was recognized by BAFTA with a nomination in the rising star category, acknowledging new talent in the acting industry.
In addition to acting, Bernal is a director and producer. He founded the production company Canana with Luna and producer Pablo Cruz.
In 2014, Bernal starred in Jon Stewart’s biopic “Rosewater” and Pablo Fendrik's “El ardor.” Bernal was also seen in “Desierto,” which was released in October 2016. “Desierto” is directed by Jonás Cuarón and premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival.
Bernal was last seen in “Neruda,” which premiered at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, 2016 Telluride Film Festival and 2016 Toronto International Film Festival. At the Palm Springs Film Festival, he earned best actor in a foreign language film for his role. The film was also nominated for 2017 Golden Globe® for best motion picture – foreign language.
Bernal will soon begin production on the film “The Kindergarten Teacher.” He will also direct his second feature film “Chicuarotes.”
BENJAMIN BRATT (voice of Ernesto de la Cruz) is a veteran of more than 25 films, including the critically acclaimed films “Piñero,” for which he was lauded for his striking, haunting and “career-defining” performance as poet-playwright-actor Miguel Piñero; Steven Soderbergh’s “Traffic,” which received five Academy Award® nominations and a Screen Actors Guild Award® for ensemble cast; and Nicole Kassell’s “The Woodsman” opposite Kevin Bacon.
Bratt’s other work of note includes Curtis Hanson’s “The River Wild” opposite Meryl Streep; Taylor Hackford’s “Blood In, Blood Out”; Phillip Noyce’s “Clear and Present Danger” opposite Harrison Ford; Donald Petrie’s beloved blockbuster comedy “Miss Congeniality” opposite Sandra Bullock; Mike Newell’s theatrical adaptation of the acclaimed novel “Love in the Time of Cholera,” co-starring Javier Bardem; Anita Doron’s “The Lesser Blessed,” which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival; and Ric Roman Waugh’s “Snitch” alongside Dwayne Johnson.
Bratt was seen in Marvel’s worldwide blockbuster “Doctor Strange.” Prior to that, he appeared in Tim Story’s “Ride Along 2” opposite Ice Cube and Kevin Hart, which opened No. 1 at the box office; “The Infiltrator” opposite Bryan Cranston; and “Special Correspondents” for director Ricky Gervais. He can be seen in “Shot Caller”—another collaboration with director Ric Roman Waugh.
Bratt voiced the villain Eduardo in the worldwide blockbuster “Despicable Me 2.” He also played the voice of Manny in the animated film “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” reprising his role in “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.”
In 2010, Bratt won Cinequest’s Maverick Spirit Award for his work as producer and star of the acclaimed independent hit “La Mission.” Written and directed by his brother Peter Bratt, the locally produced San Francisco film garnered much critical praise, winning a best indie film nomination from the NAACP, a GLAAD Award nomination, and multiple Imagen Awards, including two wins for best picture and best actor.
Television audiences perhaps best recognize Bratt from his Emmy®-nominated role as Detective Rey Curtis on NBC’s long-running drama “Law & Order.” He starred in the A&E drama series “The Cleaner,” for which he also served as producer. His portrayal of real-life extreme interventionist William Banks garnered him the 2009 ALMA Award for best actor in a drama series. Bratt also starred in the ABC drama “Private Practice” and recurs as Sofía Vergara’s ne’er-do-well ex-husband Javier on “Modern Family.” He recently starred in the limited event series “24: Live Another Day,” and can be seen in Lee Daniels’ “Star” — both for Fox. Season two of “Star” kicked off this fall.
ALANNA NOËL UBACH (voice of Mamá Imelda) was born in Downey, Calif., USA and is of Puerto Rican and Mexican descent. A chameleon-like actress and voiceover talent, she is best known for her roles in “Meet the Fockers,” “Rango,” the Peabody Award-winning “Men of a Certain Age,” “Hung,” “Legally Blonde,” “Waiting,” and her portrayal of Jo Frumpkis in Bravo’s first scripted series currently in its third season, “Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce.”
Ubach was seen in the Netflix film “To the Bone,” alongside Lily Collins and Keanu Reeves. She has voiced several roles on animated series, including “El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera,” “Welcome to the Wayne,” “TeAmo Supremo” and “Handy Manny.”
Ubach is hardly recognizable from one character to the next, leveraging her broad width of versatility on stage, screen and animation. She began acting professionally at age 5. Described as “an exceptionally talented and protean actress” by the New York Times and Variety, Ubach made her off-Broadway debut at age 15 in “Club Soda.” She later starred in “Kindertransport” at the Manhattan Theatre Club, and “Patriotic Bitch,” a one-woman show at New York’s Harold Clurman Theatre.
Ubach resides in Los Angeles with her husband, Thomas Russo.
RENÉE VICTOR (voice of Abuelita) is one of the most delightful talents in entertainment. Critics and admirers have acknowledged her range as an actress with a gallery of indelible roles, equally adept at handling drama and comedy.
The public best knows Victor for her wisecracking role as Lupita in the landmark Showtime series “Weeds.” Her portrayal has earned her critical praise as a character who avoids the usual stereotype. Fast and feisty, Lupita is bursting with energy, shooting clever barbs at unsuspecting characters. Critics nationwide have joined many fans who admire her spirit and wit.
Victor has worked alongside Hollywood’s elite, including Robert Duvall, Walter Mathau, Andy Garcia, Christopher Walken, William Hurt, Esai Morales, Josh Brolin, Gena Rowlands, Mary-Louise Parker and Scarlett Johansson. As the Hispanic evangelical interpreter in Duvall’s “The Apostle,” Victor holds her own working alongside one of America’s greatest actors. Duvall subsequently cast Victor in two of his other films, including “Assassination Tango” and “A Night in Old Mexico.” For her title role in the independent film “Libertad,” Victor received the best actress award at the Napa Valley Film Festival. She performed the English voices of Helena in Ingmar Bergman’s “Fanny and Alexander” and Ginger in Federico Fellini’s “Ginger and Fred.”
JAIME CAMIL (voice of Papá), Golden Globe®-, Critics’ Choice Award- and Teen Choice Award nominee, is an Imagen Award winner. Named by Vanity Fair as one of the best new TV characters of 2014, Camil plays “the scene-stealing comedic bright spot” Rogelio de la Vega, the supremely vain, but totally well-meaning, famous telenovela star and Gina Rodriguez’s father on the CW hit series “Jane the Virgin.”
Camil began his career as a singer, performing alongside Cuban icons Amaury Gutiérrez and Pancho Céspedes before going on to star in the megahit telenovelas “Mi Destino Eres Tú” and “La Fea Más Bella” in his native Mexico. He has starred in a multitude of award-winning films, including “Pulling Strings,” “200 Cartas” (alongside Lin-Manuel Miranda) and “7 Dias” (earning the best supporting actor honors from the Premios ACE and the Mexican Cinema Journalists).
Camil’s career continued to skyrocket following star turns in the gender-bending comedy “Por Ella Soy Eva” and the fish-out-of-water romp “Que Pobres Tan Ricos.” He has recorded four platinum-selling albums and has led many musicals in Mexico City, including “West Side Story,” “Hook,” “Aladdin,” “El diluvio que viene” and more. In 2005, Camil led the Broadway-bound musical “The Mambo Kings.”
Last summer, Camil wrapped a two-month run on Broadway, starring as Billy Flynn in America’s longest-running hit musical “Chicago.” He also just wrapped a successful run in a summer production of “Mamma Mia!” at the Hollywood Bowl playing the role of Sam Carmichael opposite Jennifer Nettles as Donna.
Camil, along with his wife and two children, resides in Los Angeles.
Born in Chula Vista, Calif., GABRIEL IGLESIAS (voice of Clerk) is the youngest of six children, raised by a single mother in Long Beach, Calif. It was during his childhood that he developed a strong sense of humor to deal with the obstacles he faced. In 1997, he set out to hone his comedic skills, performing stand-up anywhere he could find an audience, including biker bars and hole-in-the-wall joints. Iglesias’ stand-up comedy is a mixture of storytelling, parodies, characters and sound effects that bring his personal experiences to life. His unique and animated comedy style has made him popular among fans of all ages.
Iglesias is one of America’s most successful stand-up comedians performing to sold-out concerts around the world. He is also one of the most-watched comedians on YouTube with over 300,000,000 views. The comedian has also had the distinct honor of being one of the few to headline and sell-out Madison Square Garden and The Microsoft Theater. Celebrating 20 years in stand-up comedy, Iglesias is currently on the new world tour, “FluffyMania World Tour: 20 Years of Comedy.”
“Fluffy’s Food Adventures,” a non-scripted comedic docu-follow series co-starring Iglesias’ eccentric tour mates and fellow comedians Martin Moreno, Rick Gutierrez, G Reilly and Alfred Robles, launched its third season (formally “Fluffy Breaks Even”) on Fuse TV in July. The show follows Iglesias and his crew on a coast-to-coast culinary trip in search of the country’s most mouthwatering dishes as they discover local gems, unique activities and a few celebrities along the way.
Iglesias reprised his role of Jimmy in the animated film “The Nut Job 2” along with Will Arnett, Maya Rudolph and Katherine Heigl. Later this year, he will lend his voice to Cuatro in 20th Century Fox’s “Ferdinand,” which opens in December.
At the end of 2016, Iglesias released his sixth one-hour comedy special, “I’m Sorry for What I Said When I Was Hungry,” on Netflix worldwide. He filmed the special at the Allstate Arena in Chicago during two sold-out shows with a total of 20,000 fans in attendance.
In 2015, Iglesias co-starred with Channing Tatum in Warner Bros.’ “Magic Mike XXL,” reprising his role as Tobias. Iglesias also lit up the small screen on the ABC sitcom “Cristela.”
Other feature film credits include a co-starring role in “A Haunted House 2,” and his voice can be heard in numerous animated films, including “Smurfs: The Lost Village,” “Norm of the North,” “The Book of Life,” “The Nut Job” and Disneytoon Studios’ “Planes.” Iglesias also starred in the theatrical stand-up concert comedy film “The Fluffy Movie.” For the past three years Comedy Central has aired Iglesias’ hit series “Stand-Up Revolution.” The cable network also premiered “Gabriel Iglesias: Aloha Fluffy” in an unprecedented two-night comedy special to over 15 million viewers. The special was a follow-up to his previous DVD specials “Hot & Fluffy” and “I’m Not Fat...I’m Fluffy,” which have sold a combined total of more than 2 million copies.
ANA OFELIA MURGUÍA (voice of Mamá Coco) enjoys an artistic career that spans more than 50 years, including around 75 plays, over 10 years at Radio UNAM and more than 50 shorts and features. She has received important awards, including the Bellas Artes Gold Medal and the Coral at the New Latin American Film Festival in Havana.
In theater, Murguía appeared in Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” directed by Ottomar Kreisha; “Richard III,” directed by L. Margüles; “King Lear,” directed by J. Caballero; “Mrs. Klein” by N. Wright, directed by L. Margüles; “El Retablo de Eldorado” by J. Sanchis Sinisterra, directed by the author; and Camus’ “Le malentendu,” directed by Marta Verduzco.
In film, Murguía can be seen in “Las Poquianchis” by F. Cazals, “Naufragio” by J.H. Hermosillo, “Mi Querido Tom Mix” by C. García Agraz, “Su Alteza Serenísima,” by F. Cazals, “El viaje de la nonna” by S. Silva, “Las buenas hierbas” by M. Novaro and “Fecha de caducidad” by K. Márquez. Her most recent appearance is in the soap opera “Mientras haya vida.”
EDWARD JAMES OLMOS (voice of Chicharrón) has achieved extraordinary success as an actor, producer and humanitarian. The Tony®-, Emmy®- and Academy Award®-nominated actor is probably best known to young audiences for his work on the SYFY television series “Battlestar Galatica” as Admiral William Adama. Although the series kept the actor busy during its run from 2003 through 2009, it didn’t stop him from directing the HBO movie “Walkout” in 2007, for which he earned a DGA Nomination in the outstanding directorial achievement in movies for television category.
Olmos’ career in entertainment spans more than 30 years. In that time, he created a signature style and aesthetic that he applies to every artistic endeavor, often grounding his characters in reality and gravitas. His dedication to his craft has brought him attention across the industry and from audiences worldwide.
Originally a musician, Olmos branched out into acting, appearing in many small theater productions until portraying the iconic El Pachuco in “Zoot Suit.” The play moved to Broadway and Olmos earned a Tony® nomination for the role, which he reprised in the 1981 film.
Olmos went on to appear in the films “Wolfen,” “Blade Runner” and “The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez” before starring in his biggest role to date: Lieutenant Martin Castillo in the iconic ’80s television series “Miami Vice,” opposite Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas. During his time on the Michael Mann series, Olmos earned two Golden Globe® and Emmy® nominations, resulting in a win from each.
In 1988, the actor was nominated for an Academy Award® and won the Golden Globe® for his portrayal of Jaime Escalante in “Stand and Deliver.” He directed and starred in his first motion picture, “American Me,” in 1992.
Olmos’ passion for the arts grows every year, but he never forgets to give back to the communities that support him with their dedication and support. He is an international advocate, spokesman and humanitarian working with organizations such as Thank You Ocean, Project HOPE Foundation, Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, Boy’s & Girl’s Club of America, River Keepers and Dr. Andros’ Diabetic Foot Global Conference. Olmos speaks up to 150 times a year in schools, universities and corporations.
Other credits as an actor include the motion pictures “My Family/Mi Familia”; “Selena,” which was a breakout film for Jennifer Lopez; and “In the Time of Butterflies,” in which he played Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo. On television, he enjoyed a recurring role as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Roberto Mendoza in the NBC drama “The West Wing.” He also portrayed a widowed father in the PBS drama “American Family: Journey of Dreams,” and recently directed the YouTube phenomena “The Short Film BP Doesn’t Want You to See,” featured on Larry King/CNN.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
LEE UNKRICH (Director/Original Story by) is an Academy Award®-winning director at Pixar Animation Studios and vice president, editorial & layout. He was executive producer on “Monsters University” and Disney•Pixar’s Fall 2015 feature film, “The Good Dinosaur.”
Unkrich co-directed the studio’s first-ever Oscar® winner for best animated feature, the 2003 film “Finding Nemo.” As the director of Disney•Pixar’s critically-acclaimed box office hit, “Toy Story 3,” Unkrich was awarded an Academy Award® for best animated feature. He was also nominated by the Academy in the category of best adapted screenplay for his story credit on the film. In addition to his Oscar win, Unkrich received the Golden Globe® for best animated feature film, and the award for best animated film from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA).
Unkrich joined Pixar in April 1994, and has played a variety of key creative roles in nearly every animated feature film since his arrival. Before co-directing “Finding Nemo,” he was the co-director of “Monsters, Inc.” and the Golden Globe®-winning “Toy Story 2.”
He began his Pixar career as a film editor on “Toy Story” and was supervising film editor on “A Bug’s Life.” Unkrich also contributed his editing skills to numerous Pixar films, including his role as supervising film editor on “Finding Nemo.”
In 2009, Unkrich and his fellow directors at Pixar were honored at the 66th Venice International Film Festival with the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement award.
Prior to joining Pixar, Unkrich worked in television as an editor and director. He graduated from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts in 1991, where he directed several award-winning short films.
A native of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, Unkrich spent his youth acting at the Cleveland Playhouse. He lives in Marin County, Calif., with his wife and three children.
ADRIAN MOLINA (Co-Director/Original Story by/Original Screenplay by/Original Songs by) began at Pixar Animation Studios as a story intern in the summer of 2006. Since joining the studio full-time that fall, Molina has worked on the Academy Award®-winning feature films “Ratatouille” and “Toy Story 3,” and was a story artist for Disney•Pixar’s “Monsters University.”
As a story artist, Molina worked with a story team to sketch sequences in a film. This iterative process often involves working through alternative options until the best story is developed.
Raised in Grass Valley, Calif., Molina found inspiration in making home movies with his three siblings when he was growing up. He credits his parents for encouraging him to embrace his artistic and creative instincts, and his high school literature program for teaching him how to be critical and aware of storytelling and structure.
Prior to Pixar, Molina attended the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in character animation. Molina resides in East Bay.
DARLA K. ANDERSON (Producer) joined Pixar Animation Studios in 1993. Since then, her prodigious producing talents have contributed to some of the world’s most beloved and acclaimed animated feature films including “A Bug’s Life,” “Monsters, Inc.,” the Golden Globe®-winning “Cars” and Academy Award®-winning “Toy Story 3.” Anderson earned the award for Producer of the Year in Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures for “Toy Story 3” from the Producers Guild of America, an award she was also honored with for her work on “Cars.” The Producers Guild of America and the Academy Awards also recognized Anderson’s work on “Toy Story 3” with nominations for best picture.
Before assuming her feature film production duties, Anderson was the executive producer of Pixar Animation Studios’ commercial group. Prior to joining Pixar, she worked with Angel Studios in Carlsbad, Calif., as the executive producer of its commercial division. It was here she was introduced to the world of 3D computer graphics; she relocated to the Bay Area, with the intention of gaining a position at Pixar.
As one of the studio’s and the animation industry’s most accomplished producers, Anderson was elected to the Producers Council Board of the Producers Guild of America in July 2008. She is the first producer from the animation arena to be elected to the council.
Born and raised in Glendale, Calif., Anderson studied environmental design at San Diego State University. She began her career in the entertainment industry working on San Diego-based film and television productions.
Anderson resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.
JOHN LASSETER (Executive Producer) creatively oversees all films and associated projects from Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios and Disneytoon Studios, in addition to his involvement in a wide range of activities at Walt Disney Imagineering.
Lasseter made his feature directorial debut in 1995 with “Toy Story,” the first-ever feature-length computer-animated film, for which he received a Special Achievement Oscar® recognizing his inspired leadership of the “Toy Story” team. He and the rest of the screenwriting team earned an Academy Award® nomination for best original screenplay, marking the first time an animated feature had ever been recognized in that category. Lasseter also directed “A Bug’s Life” (1998), “Toy Story 2” (1999), “Cars” (2006) and “Cars 2” (2011). He is directing Disney•Pixar’s “Toy Story 4,” which is slated for release on June 21, 2019.
Lasseter was executive producer for Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Oscar®-winning features “Zootopia” (2016), “Big Hero 6” (2014) and “Frozen” (2013), which also won an Oscar for best original song (“Let It Go”). Since assuming creative oversight of both animation studios in 2006, Lasseter has served as executive producer on all Walt Disney Animation Studios’ features, including “Bolt” (2008), “The Princess and the Frog” (2009), “Tangled” (2010), “Winnie the Pooh” (2011), “Wreck-It Ralph” (2012), “Moana” (2016) and the upcoming “Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2.” Lasseter also serves as executive producer for Disneytoon Studios’ films, including “Planes: Fire & Rescue” and “Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast.”
Lasseter has executive-produced all Pixar features since “Monsters, Inc.” (2001), including the studio’s eight Academy Award® winners “Finding Nemo” (2003), “The Incredibles” (2004), “Ratatouille” (2007), “WALL•E” (2008), “Up” (2009), “Toy Story 3” (2010), “Brave” (2012) and “Inside Out” (2015), plus “The Good Dinosaur” (2015), “Finding Dory” (2016) and this summer’s “Cars 3.” To date, Pixar’s films have earned more than $10 billion in gross box-office receipts, with 15 of 17 features opening at No. 1.
Lasseter wrote, directed and animated Pixar’s first short films, including “Luxo Jr.,” “Red’s Dream,” “Tin Toy” and “Knick Knack.” “Luxo Jr.” was the first three-dimensional computer-animated film ever to be nominated for an Academy Award® when it was nominated for best animated short film in 1986; “Tin Toy” was the first three-dimensional computer-animated film ever to win an Academy Award when it was named best animated short film in 1988. Lasseter has executive-produced all of the studio’s subsequent shorts, including the Academy Award-winning shorts “Geri’s Game” (1997) and “For the Birds” (2000), plus “La Luna” (2011), “The Blue Umbrella” (2013), “Lava” (2015), “Sanjay’s Super Team” (2015) and last year’s Oscar®-winning short “Piper,” which opened in front of “Finding Dory.” He also serves as executive producer for Walt Disney Animation Studios shorts, including the Oscar-winning shorts “Feast” (2014) and “Paperman” (2012), as well as “Get a Horse!” (2013), “Frozen Fever” (2015) and “Inner Workings,” which opened in front of “Moana” last year.
In his role as principal creative advisor for Walt Disney Imagineering, Lasseter was instrumental in bringing the beloved characters and settings of Radiator Springs to life for Disneyland Resort guests with the successful 2012 launch of Cars Land, a massive 12-acre expansion at Disney California Adventure Park.
In 2009, Lasseter was honored at the 66th Venice International Film Festival with the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement. The following year, he became the first producer of animated films to receive the Producers Guild of America’s David O. Selznick Achievement Award in Motion Pictures. Lasseter’s other recognitions include the 2004 outstanding contribution to cinematic imagery award from the Art Directors Guild, an honorary degree from the American Film Institute, and the 2008 Winsor McCay Award from ASIFA-Hollywood for career achievement and contribution to the art of animation.
Prior to the formation of Pixar in 1986, Lasseter was a member of the computer division of Lucasfilm Ltd., where he designed and animated “The Adventures of André & Wally B.,” the first-ever piece of character-based three-dimensional computer animation, and the computer-generated Stained Glass Knight character in the 1985 Steven Spielberg–produced film “Young Sherlock Holmes.”
Lasseter was part of the inaugural class of the character animation program at California Institute of the Arts and received his B.F.A. in film in 1979. He is the only two-time winner of the Student Academy Award for Animation, for his CalArts student films “Lady and the Lamp” (1979) and “Nitemare” (1980). His very first award came at the age of 5, when he won $15 from the Model Grocery Market in Whittier, Calif., for a crayon drawing of the Headless Horseman.
MATTHEW ALDRICH (Original Story by/Original Screenplay by), co-writer of Disney•Pixar’s “Coco” and two-time Black List alum, has emerged in recent years as a writer of substance and imagination. He first gained attention for the spec script “Cleaner,” which was directed by Renny Harlin for Screen Gems and starred Samuel L. Jackson and Ed Harris. Aldrich developed several features with Alcon Entertainment and Anonymous Content—one of which, “Spinning Man,” wrapped production this past summer. Directed by Simon Kaijser, the thriller stars Guy Pearce, Minnie Driver and Pierce Brosnan. In 2011, Aldrich’s spec script “Father Daughter Time” sold to Warner Bros. with Matt Damon attached to direct and star and earned a top-five spot on the Black List. His follow-up script, “The Ballad of Pablo Escobar,” made the list the following year. Shortly thereafter, Aldrich began work on “Coco.” He quickly took to Pixar’s highly collaborative environment, and it proved to be the start of a fruitful relationship. He relocated to the Bay Area and continues to consult on various Pixar projects. Last year, Aldrich adapted the novel “Opening Belle” for Warner Bros. and Reese Witherspoon and sold his spec pilot “Home by Dark” to Hulu. Following graduation from UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television, Aldrich worked at the Sundance Institute, where he helped mount screenwriter labs and screening series throughout Latin America, including Mexico, Cuba and Brazil. He has also served as a mentor in the Black List’s San Francisco screenwriting lab. Aldrich met his wife at UCLA, and together they remain theater nerds at heart. As a screenwriter with two kids who now lives in Oakland, he has memorized Southwest’s service between OAK and BUR and has achieved A-List Preferred Status (which he guards fiercely). When he’s not writing he’s usually baking bread.
JASON KATZ (Story Supervisor/Original Story by) joined Pixar Animation Studios in 1994. He began his Pixar career as a storyboard artist on “Toy Story” and continued in the same role on “A Bug’s Life,” for which he also did some additional character design. Katz continued as a storyboard artist on a number of Pixar’s feature films, including “Toy Story 2” and “Monsters, Inc.,” and served as a co-story supervisor for the Academy Award®-winning features “Finding Nemo” and “Ratatouille.”
Katz worked as story supervisor on the Golden Globe®- and Academy Award®-winning feature film “Toy Story 3” and on the Toy Story Toon “Hawaiian Vacation.”
Raised in Torrance, Calif., Katz learned to draw from his grandmother. Together, they watched animated television shows and sketched the characters they saw on screen. His grandmother’s strong influence piqued Katz’s interest in art, popular culture and classic films.
Katz studied character animation at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). Inspired by artists such as Bill Peet, Marc Davis and Joe Ranft, Katz pursued a career as a storyboard artist upon graduation. He worked for Turner Pictures, storyboarding on the animated feature “Cats Don’t Dance.”
KRISTEN ANDERSON-LOPEZ and ROBERT LOPEZ (Original Songs by) are the Oscar® and Grammy® winning, married songwriting team behind Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Frozen.”
Lopez co-conceived and co-wrote the smash-hit musicals “Avenue Q” and “The Book of Mormon,” both earning him Tony® Awards. Anderson-Lopez’ show “In Transit,” made history as the first all a capella musical to run on Broadway, after earning recognition at the Drama Desk, Drama League and Lucille Lortel awards for its 2010 Off-Broadway run. Lopez and Anderson-Lopez have written for television, film and stage, including “Finding Nemo: The Musical,” songs for “The Wonder Pets” (two Emmy® award wins) and Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Winnie the Pooh.” Their original musical, “Up Here,” premiered at the La Jolla Playhouse in 2015.
Current projects include the stage adaptation of “Frozen,” opening on Broadway in 2018, and Walt Disney Animation Studios’ follow-up to “Frozen,” slated for November 2019.
Lopez and Anderson-Lopez live in Brooklyn with their two daughters.
GERMAINE FRANCO (Music Orchestrated and Arranged by/Original Songs Co-Written by) is the first Latina composer invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, music branch. She composes music and songs that reflect her extensive training as an orchestral musician, her electronic music programming prowess, her multi-instrumental expertise and her love of world music. Franco divides her time working on studio blockbusters and independent features. She has scored and/or written songs for a variety of award-winning and high-profile feature, animation and documentary projects, including “Dope,” directed by Rick Famuyiwa (Open Road Films), which premiered at the Sundance and Cannes Film Festivals; “Margarita,” directed by Dominique Cardona and Laurie Colbert (HBO Canada, Telefilm Canada); and most recently “Walk with Me: On the Road with Thich Nhat Hanh,” directed by Max Pugh and Marc Francis, and narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch, which screened at SXSW 2017 and the 2017 BFI London Film Festival; and “Shovel Buddies,” directed by Si&Ad for Awesomeness Films, which premiered at SXSW 2016. Franco’s opening-title music was featured in the PBS Special “Hispanic Heritage Awards” 2015 and 2016, sponsored by The White House under President Barack Obama. Future work includes scoring Cardona and Colbert’s score to “Keely and Du” (Telefilm Canada).
Franco’s work on the Disney•Pixar’s “Coco” is multifaceted, encompassing more than four years of creative collaboration with filmmakers. Franco wrote several songs with co-director Adrian Molina that can be heard throughout the film. In addition, she arranged, orchestrated and co-produced the signature song “Remember Me,” written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. Franco utilized her music and language skills while serving as music producer, additional composer, arranger and orchestrator in Mexico City where she led more than 50 Mexican musicians from multiple ensembles. She worked with producer Camilo Lara (Mexican Institute of Sound) to create an authentic Mexican sound for the film, and worked with composer Michael Giacchino as an orchestrator during scoring sessions.
Franco’s work includes composing for immersive reality (4D) and theme park attractions for DreamWorks Animation’s Motiongate. The project featured her music for “Shrek,” “How to Train Your Dragon,” “Kung Fu Panda” and “Madagascar” attractions. For Motiongate, Franco collaborated with animation directors Gary Trousdale (“Beauty and the Beast”) and Steve Hickner (“Bee Movie,” “The Prince of Egypt”), and producer Karen Foster (“How to Train Your Dragon,” “Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Furious Five”). Additionally, Franco composed music for DWA’s Dreamplace Christmas attractions, which premiered in the U.S. and London.
Franco is a current Women In Film Music Fellow. She was nominated for a Black Reel Award for her work on “Dope,” and is the first female composer to be hired by DreamWorks Animation. She is a Sundance Music Sound Design Fellow and a Board Member of the Alliance for Women Film Composers. Franco holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in music from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music.
Franco began her ascent in the world of film music production by working alongside some of Hollywood’s top film and TV composers as an additional composer, orchestrator, arranger, midi programmer and/or music producer for John Powell, Hans Zimmer, Randy Newman, Gustavo Santaolalla, Jeff Russo and Michael Giacchino. Her credits include more than 30 tent-pole productions, including “Toy Story 3,” “Bolt,” “Mr. 3000,” “How to Train Your Dragon” (1 & 2), “Rio” (1 & 2), “The Lorax,” “Happy Feet” (1 & 2), “Kung Fu Panda” (1,2 & 3), “The Bourne Ultimatum,” “The Bourne Supremacy,” “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” “The Italian Job” and “Fargo,” among others.
Franco has performed as a percussionist with several major international orchestras and artists, including the Belgian Radio Orchestra, the Spoleto Festival Orchestra, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, the Hollywood Symphony, the World Orchestra, Danny Elfman, Hans Zimmer, John Powell, Jack Black, Sergio Mendes, Sheila E. and Judith Hill. Franco performed percussion on her recent score to the Kung Fu Panda Unstoppable Awesomeness Attraction, featured in the 2016 Women Who Score Concert at California Plaza, and the “Women Who Score” film directed by Sara Nesson and produced by Naida Albright and Laura Karpman.
MICHAEL GIACCHINO (Original Score Composed by) has credits on some of the most popular and acclaimed film projects in recent history, including Disney•Pixar’s “Inside Out,” “Jurassic World,” “The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” Disney•Pixar’s “The Incredibles,” Disney•Pixar’s “Ratatouille” and “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.” Giacchino’s 2009 score for Disney•Pixar’s hit “Up” earned him an Oscar®, a Golden Globe®, the BAFTA, the Broadcast Film Critics’ Choice Award and two GRAMMY® Awards.
Giacchino began his filmmaking career at age 10 in his backyard in Edgewater Park, N.J., and eventually went on to study filmmaking at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. After college, he landed a marketing job at Disney and began studies in music composition, first at Juilliard and then at UCLA. From marketing, he became a producer in the fledgling Disney Interactive Division where he had the opportunity to write music for video games.
After moving to a producing job at the newly formed DreamWorks Interactive Division, he was asked to score the temp track for the video game adaptation of “The Lost World: Jurassic Park.” Subsequently, Steven Spielberg hired him as the composer and it became the first PlayStation game to have a live orchestral score. Giacchino continued writing for video games and became well known for his “Medal of Honor” scores.
Giacchino’s work in video games sparked the interest of J.J. Abrams, and thus began their long-standing relationship that would lead to scores for the hit television series “Alias” and “Lost,” and the feature films “Mission Impossible III,” “Star Trek,” “Super 8 and “Star Trek Into Darkness.”
Additional projects include collaborations with Disney Imagineering on music for Space Mountain, Star Tours (with John Williams) and the “Ratatouille” ride in Disneyland Paris. Giacchino also was the musical director of the 81st Annual Academy Awards®. His music can be heard in concert halls internationally with “Star Trek,” “Star Trek Into Darkness,” “Star Trek Beyond” and “Ratatouille” films being performed live-to-picture with a full orchestra.
Last year, Giacchino’s music could be heard in Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Zootopia,” “Star Trek Beyond,” “Doctor Strange” and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” which was the first Star Wars film score to be composed by someone other than John Williams. Giacchino’s projects for 2017 include “War for the Planet of the Apes,” “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and “The Book of Henry.”
Giacchino serves as the Governor of the Music Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and sits on the advisory board of Education Through Music Los Angeles.
CAMILO LARA (Music Consultant) was simply creating holiday mixes for friends, but they convinced him to take his songs into the studio. At the time, he was busy working in the music business and doing musical supervision for films such as “Y Tu Mamá También,” which led to his first Grammy® nomination, but found time to start recording at night. Through those humble beginnings, Mexican Institute of Sound (M.I.S.) was born.
Thanks to the critical and commercial success of his breakthrough albums “Pinata” and “Soy Sauce,” the accidental rock star now tours the world performing at major festivals, including Coachella and Lollapalooza. While early M.I.S. songs combined a variety of vintage samples into instrumental tracks, “Politico” features entirely original songs recorded with a live band and vocals. Lara is working on his next M.I.S. album, “Disco Popular.”
In 2012 Lara was asked to produce an album for Los Ángeles Azules that was to include the greatest hits spanning their 30-year history. The album, “Como Te Voy a Olvidar,” went to No. 1 in Mexico for 79 weeks and was nominated for a Grammy®. Lara is in the final stages of producing another Los Ángeles Azules Album.
One of the most interesting cultural phenomena in pop music is the rabid devotion of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans to the music of Morrissey. Lara is one such devotee, and together with Sergio Mendoza (Calexico and Orkesta Mendoza), he rewrote Morrissey’s lyrics into Spanish and reimagined some of Morrissey’s and The Smiths’ most iconic tunes, giving life to a project aptly named “Mexrrissey.” The album “No Manchester” charted top 15 in the U.S. and the U.K. The Mexrrissey touring group, featuring an all-star lineup of Mexican artists, has since sold out four tours in the U.K. alone.
Lara also runs the label Casete which has distributed albums from artists such as Radiohead, Björk, Jamie XX and Nick Cave, as has overseen music supervision for more than 80 films, including the Oscar®-winning “Birdman.” He DJs events of all kinds and was selected to curate the “East Los FM” radio station for the game Grand Theft Auto V set in Los Angeles. Lara continues to work in the studio as a producer and remixer (projects include Johnny Cash, Morrissey, Placebo and Beastie Boys), has been a TED Talk speaker, and was recently named by El País newspaper as one of the top 20 most influential Spanish-speaking persons.
As if Lara did not have enough on his plate, he and Toy Selectah undertook creating a new album that has 90 collaborators and is appropriately named “Compass.” With Red Bull’s help, they recorded the album in seven cities around the world. The project was a massive undertaking and includes Ana Bárbara, Sly and Robbie, Toots & the Maytals, Gogol Bordello (Eugene), Nina Sky, Money Mark, MC Lyte, N.A.S.A., Kool A.D. (Das Racist), KutMasta Kurt, Chrome Sparks, Eric “Bobo” Correa (Cypress Hill), Tanto Blacks, Chedda Helado, Negro Kita, Kaine Notch, Maluca Mala, Benjamin Lozinger (Mø), DJ Lengua, Matty Rico, Tiombe Lockhart and Angela Hunter, among others.
To say you have now discovered every side of Camilo Lara as an artist would be incorrect. Those who have tried to put him into words call him “a real connoisseur of music who knows about all kinds of weird stuff” (Mike D of the Beastie Boys) or “The Mexican Herb Alpert” (Ed O´Brien, Radiohead). Because to simply call him a musician is to underplay him, the scope of his work, how his work continues to surprise and expand.