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La Luna (Pixar Short) - Fun Facts and Hidden Details

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Another fabulous Pixar short, "La Luna" captivates audiences with a short coming-of-age tale about an adorable little boy who learns from his father and grandfather, but is also able to find his own way. With a distinctly Italian feel, the film provides a romantic, moon-lit ambiance for the tender yet comical story. Here are some fun facts about the making of "La Luna" and details from the movie you might not notice the first time through. (Click on the images to see a larger photo.)

1. Academy Award Nominated "La Luna"

La Luna logo
Photo © Disney/Pixar
Prior to being released in theaters with Disney/Pixar's Brave, "La Luna" played at a few film festivals and was nominated for an Academy Award for best Animated Short Film. So, instead of just being coupled with a big movie and shown to audiences, "La Luna" got it's own day in the spotlight. The film, which took over nine months in production to create, is the directorial debut of Enrico Casarosa.

2. "La Luna" Is Personal Story for Director Enrico Casarosa

La Luna - Pixar Short
Photo © Disney/Pixar
The story of "La Luna" is personal to director Enrico Casarosa. He told us in an interview:
The core of [the story] is a personal experience of dealing with my dad and my grandfather growing up. When my grandmother passed, we went and lived with my grandfather. It was a small house. My dad and my grandfather weren’t getting along. So, roughly twenty-five years ago, in that kitchen, it would’ve been a lot like what you see in the short, which is like two guys at a table for dinners. It would have been a lot like that. I would always feel stuck in the middle.
The movie paints a short and sweet portrait of a boy who gains knowledge from both his father and grandfather, but in the end, he has to find his own path.

3. Imperfection Is Key to the Look and Feel of "La Luna"

La Luna Concept Art
Photo © Disney/Pixar
When going for a specific look and feel for "La Luna," Casarosa told us that the computer animation presents some challenges:
I really brought a lot of actual material and traditional watercolor paintings. We scanned them and put them on our geometry. I think I was looking for warmth that sometimes a computer can take away a little bit, and imperfection. You know, the computer is very good at making quite precise, slightly colder things. So we brought a lot of man-made imperfection, and I thought it would support this more fable-like story--that it’s a little more like a kid’s book kind of world.

4. Capturing the Awe and Wonder of a Child

La Luna - Boy
Photo © Disney/Pixar
When I look at the little boy in "La Luna," he reminds me of a Precious Moments character, but even cuter with the rich coloring. Of course, as you can see from the concept art of the boy (above), his look was carefully thought out. Here is what Enrico told us he was going for:
You know, I started drawing him at the beginning, and he was always kind of a little bit of a full moon, himself. So that was a little bit the thought, and the important thing being also that his eyes were really big--the complete opposite of Dad and Grandfather. So, I was looking for contrast there. He’s curious.
Where the grandfather and father are caught up in arguing and immune to the magic of the work they do each day, the boy is full of wonder.

5. Not Just Puppy Dog Eyes

La Luna Poster
Photo © Disney/Pixar
Those big puppy dog eyes convey the boy's sense of innocence and wonder, but that's not all they convey. Notice how the whites of the boys eyes are shaped like crescents. This subtle design detail in the boy reflects the moon, an important part of the story, and also almost subconsciously adds an element of magic to the character and the movie in general. Details such as these are not obvious, and many may even go unnoticed, but they still add to the overall feel of the film, and it's fun to try and find them as you watch.

6. Papas with Personality

La Luna - Pixar Short
Photo © Disney/Pixar
Even though they speak only gibberish throughout the film, the father and grandfather in "La Luna" are filled with personality. Why gibberish? Enrico told us:
I grew up with this wonderful, cartoon called La Linea, which is an Italian animation in which there was this character that was made out of one line, and he was talking this crazy language. But it was very Italian...you would know exactly what he is feeling. You didn’t know what he was saying, of course, but it had a flavor that was distinctively Italian, and I knew that I wanted gesticulating animation, so I thought wouldn’t it be great to still have that flavor...
The effect also focuses the audiences attention on the little boy, and the pressure that is put on him by the papas.

7. Making a Short Is a Little Different

La Luna - Pixar Short Concept Model
Photo © Disney/Pixar
Making a short or a full length movie is generally the same process, but Enrico told us how making a short is a little different:
The difference is that you have a much smaller crew. So, one specific artist has a little more to do, so you try and cover more within your abilities. Like, I am a director, but I storyboarded the whole thing, while normally, you would have a story team. Or, I did some mapping things for the stars in the background. You really have the smaller team, so those limitations become an interesting thing.
...You have a lot of camaraderie being a little smaller. So, as an experience, it’s extremely fun. You feel very privileged. Every day, you see a little piece of the puzzle coming together.

8. When He Made the Film, Casarosa Was Influenced By...

La Luna Pixar Short Photo
Photo © Disney/Pixar
The magical "La Luna" tells a very down-to-earth story in a fantastical, whimsical, and out-of-this world kind of way. Enrico was influenced by a number of works, he told us:
Saint-Exupery and the Little Prince, I always loved growing up. You’ve probably seen the illustration of this cute little prince on this planet; it’s actually quite small. I always was fascinated by something by you could just walk around in a minute.
Enrico was also influenced by Hayao Miyazaki and Italo Calvino, an Italian writer that he read growing up.

9. A Nice Juxtaposition to Brave

Brave - Movie Poster
Photo © Disney/Pixar. All rights reserved.
Pixar shorts don't often have anything to do with the big movie they open for, but "La Luna" makes a fitting introduction to the big Disney/Pixar film Brave. Both are European in setting and feel, and both are coming-of-age stories. Brave tells the story of a girl named Merida, an independent and feisty teenager who must choose her own destiny. While "La Luna" is about a young boy finding his own path in life.

10. About Enrico Casarosa

Enrico Casarosa
Photo © Disney/Pixar
Born and raised in Genoa, Italy, Casarosa moved to New York City in his twenties, to study animation at the School of Visual Arts and Illustration at the Fashion Institute of Technology. He joined Pixar Animation Studios in January 2002 and worked as a story artist on Cars, Ratatouille and Up. According to Disney/Pixar, Casarosa is currently working as head of story on an upcoming Pixar film.
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