Earlier this year, I had the amazing opportunity to attend THE JUNGLE BOOK red carpet World Premiere in LA. This incredible movie immediately captured my heart, quickly becoming a new Disney classic favorite of mine!
Naturally, I was thrilled to be a special guest of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures mom blogger group for the PETE’S DRAGON event (#PetesDragonEvent) – which happened to include a very special meet and greet with Brigham Taylor and Rob Legato in celebration of the upcoming THE JUNGLE BOOK movie release Digital HD August 23 and on Blu-ray August 30.
Brigham Taylor is the Producer of the re-imagined THE BOOK FILM and Rob Legato is the Visual Effects Supervisor. Along with Director, Jon Favreau, this amazing duo have created a spectacular film unlike any other in Disney film history. The movie took about two-and-one-half years to produce from conception to full production, with story development taking 6-8 months during this time period.
“Up ’till now it was impossible to do a film that has this many shots in it, in 3-D, all computer generated,” said Legato. “It was a miracle.”
A great deal of time and effort went into conceptualizing each scene, ensuring that detailed decisions were made prior to shooting each scene. Taylor said that prior to the point of photography, everything had to have already been worked out including the scale of each creature, the scale of the jungle, and where the cameras would be pointing.
“The blue screen stage is really difficult to come up with ideas because there’s nothing there,” said Legato. “It’s almost stupefying. So, you need to have in your head a very clear idea so you can actually direct the shot and even judge it if it’s working out.”
Both Brigham and Legato wanted to create an impressive film that did not remind the viewer of CG-animated movies. They wanted the technology to disappear into the background and have the entertaining story in the forefront. They hoped audiences would forget they were watching something that could be computer generated. The film achieves this perfect blend, immersing the audience into a wonderful and vibrant adventure (you can see our full movie review HERE,) through the use of excellent story-telling, incredible acting talent and that special Disney magic that permeates every film.
“We were making a live action movie. We were not making an animated film, we didn’t want to look like an animated film,” said Legato. “I guess the first time I think I got a big thrill from it was for some reason of all the characters, and they are all great. [There] is something about Idris Elba playing that character and the melding of his voice, his performance, the character he was playing, the way it was animated, that represented his emotion and then the way it was photographed and the sole total of the composite of that went ‘wow, that’s a real character.'”
A particularly challenging scene to create is an early scene where the animals gather at peace rock. They had to invent the scene as they were shooting it.
“There’s so many animals and so many different things and it had to look like and feel like the way it feels in the movie,” said Legato. “You’re starting with a blank page…and your shooting specificity, ‘why am I looking there? What am I seeing what I’m seeing there? What are we going to put there eventually to justify why we were looking over here?'”
Legato noted that the film uses modern equipment and tools, but feels that at the heart, The Jungle Book film is built on the foundation of its predecessors. The crew didn’t want the film to be a ‘flavor of the month,’ they wanted to produce a movie that would resonate with the audience.
“There’s something about that we are standing on the shoulders of Walt Disney and his group of people who were trying to push the envelope creatively to give a more emotional experience to the audience,” said Legato. “It’s something that lives for a long time and you kind of have some deep-rooted psychology to it. That to me was fascinating. I love the history of movies. I love all that. It’s the reason why I got into it in the first place.”
Both Taylor and Legato agree that they were able to achieve what they set out to do with the filming of THE JUNGLE BOOK. Everything they wished to do technically was a reality thanks to advancement in film-making. Their only restrictions were self-imposed, such as not wanting the film to be too long.
Ultimately, Taylor hopes the audience takeaway is two-fold: that people look back at the film as kind of landmark, cinematic moment and more importantly, they have an emotional response to the movie.
More Fun Facts about THE JUNGLE BOOK from Brigham Taylor and Rob Legato
- Approximately 2,000 people were involved with the making of the film.
- Puppetry was used in the film-making to aid newcomer, Neel Sethi (Mowgli) in having fresh and more believable responses (to what later would be CGI characters) during filming.
- Not every shot in the movie required a scale puppet but sometimes full-scale puppets were used to cast a shadow or to help visualize the scene.
- The scene where Mowgli says good-bye to his mother, Raksha was one of the most demanding technical scenes in the movie. The stampede scene was the most physically (for the actors and stuntmen) and technically challenging scene to shoot.
- Rob Legato’s son shot the opening credits scene in an old-film-style technicolor way to pay homage to the older Disney films like the original “The Jungle Book.”
- A special “behind the scenes” team at Disney compiles what will be used in the extras for the Digital HD and Blu-ray movie releases.
THE JUNGLE BOOK with in-depth bonus features will be available on Digital HD August 23 and on Blu-ray August 30!