Here’s what we learned at the early press day for Olaf’s Frozen Adventure
Olaf’s Frozen Adventure will open in US theaters ahead of Disney•Pixar‘s Coco this month, and we were lucky enough to attend the early press day for the short film. ComingSoon.net learned all sorts of fun info from producer Roy Conli, star Josh Gad, who voices Olaf, and directors Stevie Wermers-Skelton and Kevin Deters. You can also check out the trailer and a brand new clip in the players below.
Gad spoke about his traditions for the holidays during a Q&A, saying that his household celebrates both Hanukkah and Christmas. He said, “I think my favorite tradition is, Christmas Eve, I write a letter to my daughters, or actually, for the kids in the room, Santa Claus writes a letter to my daughters. I just oversee it. And sharing that tradition with them and having them wake up on Christmas morning and watching them open their presents from Mommy and Daddy and Santa Claus is my favorite thing, to see that pure joy of them opening those gifts and what awaits them is such a treasure.”
He also spoke about the singing he had to do for Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, in the high-pitched Olaf voice. “It’s difficult when they keep writing it as high as they keep writing it,” he laughed. “Bobby Lopez, who wrote ‘Book of Mormon,’ which I did with him, he would always write it like an octave higher than I deserve to sing it, and carried that tradition over to ‘Frozen.’ So when the brilliant songwriters Kate [Anderson] and Elyssa [Samsel] did this, I was like, oh great, they’ve been speaking to Bobby and Kristen [Anderson Lopez]. And it is hard. Especially that song,” he said, referring to “It’s My Favorite Time of Year.” “Papa doesn’t want to sing that!” he said. “It’s tricky to get back into that mode and keep the voice bright and Olaf-y.”
When we sat down with directors Wermers-Skelton and Deters, we talked about a scene in the film where Olaf tours the country, learning dozens of holiday traditions to bring back to Elsa and Anna. (Fans of the baking competition The Great British Bake Off will even recognize some of the desserts.) They both said they went to Google for many of the traditions, joking that they didn’t get to go to Scandinavia for a research trip. “We did do a lot of research, particularly on Scandinavia,” said Wermers-Skelton. “About what their old, ancient traditions were and all of that. So that’s why there are so many images of goats in there, that’s a Scandinavian tradition with the yule goat. We did research into different religions as well.” Deters continued, “Different holidays around the world, both in the past and today, like what do different nations celebrate and what do they think of western Christmas, just to kind of get really a full picture of it, just because ‘Frozen’ is such an inclusive endeavor, and embraced in a cool way by different cultures around the world. Wermers-Skelton said, “We learned about the Santa Lucia thing with the candles,” she said, referring to an image of a little girl with a crown full of candles on her head. “We thought, oh, this is what they do. We watched YouTube videos of that.”
For a short film, Olaf’s Frozen Adventure has a gut punch of emotion at the end. Wermers-Skelton told us, “It’s actually one of the first things you try, once you sort of establish thematically where you want to go. Then you have to figure out, okay, what is that? What are you working towards?” Deters added, “Yeah, that emotional moment.” She then continued, “You have to get that emotional hook in there as early as you can, ideally.” They also said that one of the little details that end up in Disney films, is that the animators actually put in the breaths that singers take between phrases. It’s something that was done for Elsa (Idina Menzel) in Frozen.
We also sat down with producer Roy Conli, who spoke about the emotional moment as well. “I truly believe in what that gut punch is. I don’t think it’s a Disney animated film unless you have some sort of emotional arc. You have to have that warm feeling when you walk out. I’m so proud of this piece because of that.” He told us about Olaf’s motivation in life. “All he wants to do is make these girls happy. He wants to make sure that they’re happy and that they’re moving forward in their lives,” he said. “He’s such a good guy!”
We asked Conli about making the story about friendship and sisterhood instead of romance, in both Frozen and Olaf’s Frozen Adventure. He said, “In this, the core is family, which doesn’t necessarily have to be genetic. Olaf is part of their family. Kristoff is part of their family. But then there is family and there are shared memories. And what happens when you have a family where those memories have been somehow prohibited. So that was kind of core to what we wanted to talk about. And we can’t leave Sven out because he’s part of the family. He’s my favorite character! I don’t know why, but I’ve always liked dogs and horses and reindeer. They’re the best! But I think that it will always be a sister story.”
In the story, the sisters realize that because of the death of their parents, they don’t really have any holiday traditions. We asked if blended families and those who have lost family members having to make new traditions were a part of the thought process for the story. Conli said, “Oh yes! That’s the great thing about that funky tradition that Kristoff has,” he said, referring to a very odd troll tradition Kristoff brings to the girls. “He comes from a totally different background. He grew up with trolls. We have a whole song, by the way… that tells about this specific character and how he fits into the lore of the trolls.” He said it will be on the DVD for the film.
Featuring four new original songs, the 21-minute featurette welcomes the original cast and characters back to the big screen, including Olaf (Josh Gad), who is on a mission to harness the best holiday traditions for Anna (Kristen Bell), Elsa (Idina Menzel) and Kristoff (Jonathan Groff). Directed by Emmy-winning filmmakers Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers-Skelton (Prep & Landing), produced by Oscar winner Roy Conli (Big Hero 6), with original songs by Elyssa Samsel and Kate Anderson (“Between the Lines”), Olaf’s Frozen Adventure will be in theaters for a limited time beginning November 22.
The upcoming short will seemingly set up the forthcoming Frozen sequel, which is slated for a November 27, 2019 release. Walt Disney Animation Studios’ untitled feature-length follow-up to the hit film reunites filmmakers Jennifer Lee, Chris Buck and Peter Del Vecho with the Grammy- and Oscar-winning songwriting duo Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez.
Frozen was released on November 27, 2013 and became a global juggernaut, bringing in over $1.2 billion at the global box office.
Are you guys excited for Olaf’s Frozen Adventure? Let us know in the comments.