The exciting reason Disney made ‘Encanto’

Clark Spencer director of Disney Animation Studios explains in this interview with SensaCine how and why the studio made the musical film that can already be seen on Disney + and that has moved audiences around the world.

It’s easy to get excited when you watch the movie Charm from Disney which is now available on Disney +. Anyone who has seen her has recognized one of her relatives or himself in this story of the Madrigal family where all the members of the family have a magical gift, except Mirabel, who will have to find out why and who will finally be able to. see beyond what is apparently happening. SensaCine has interviewed Clark Spencer, the director of Disney Animation Studios, winner of an Oscar for Zootropolis, and who has been with the company for more than 20 years, and he has explained to us how and why they made this special film, and you have a very exciting reason behind it.

“It was at least six years ago when the idea of ​​making a musical film directed by Jared Bush and Byron Howard came up, they were working together on Zootropolis and they wanted to do a new project together “, explains to SensaCine the producer of Charm. Jared had been a scriptwriter for Lin Manuel MIranda, and he made the proposal and said yes, but he proposed that it be set in Latin America. “And if you place the story there, the family has to be the key, because culturally the family is fundamental in this part of the world,” explains Spencer.

And that is one of the reasons why the viewer connects so much with this film that it arose by chance. “When the directors sat down to talk with Lin Manuel MIranda, and he joined Charise Castro Smith -the co-writer and co-director who is of Latino origin- to the project, they realized that all of them came from large families, and shared a vision about it“Spencer recalls to SensaCine.” But we did not want to tell the story of a perfect family because our families always have their pluses and minuses, “says the producer.

“And what if one of the people in the family does not feel part of that family to which they belong? Mirabel is the stranger in that house, because she does not have a magical gift and she wants to know why. And then we begin to feel that there was a movie in that story. Because I think we’ve all felt at times that we weren’t good enough, either at home, with our family or with the work we’re doing. We’re always comparing ourselves to others. And that’s something. very universal, “Spencer explains.

In fact, the characters of the Madrigal family are all inspired by the writers ‘and directors’ own families, as they told SensaCine in an interview. “We found it great to be able to link that magic to the roles that each one of us plays in a family. We looked at our families and we thought about what role each one had,” explains Howard. So to choose the gifts of the protagonists they turned to those they found in their families. “Who is the rock of my family that is there for everyone who does not need it? And that became Lisa and the super strength. We all have in our family someone who is almost effortless perfection, then Isabella came. We all have caregivers, or nurses and good cooks in our family who actually make it feel like they heal with their food, just like Julieta, who is inspired by the magnificent soup that Charise’s grandmother makes and makes her feel like she’s cured… “, adds the director. Even Charise Castro Smith herself bears a certain physical resemblance to Mirabel.

“The film connects so much with all viewers because family is a universal theme, we all have families. And we have all felt at times that we were not how others saw us, and that has been fundamental, “says the producer.

MIrabel with co-director and co-writer Charise Castro Smith, of Cuban origin, who is the first Latina to direct a film for Disney and bears a striking resemblance to Mirabel

“Encanto connects the past with the future of Disney”

But also, for the producer Encanto, which is Disney’s 60th film, it represents a fundamental role in its history.

“It has something that makes it very special, is that it connects with the past, because it is a musical film, like the ones we used to make years ago. It talks about something universal, the family, it has many characters, 12, it has a great story and there are wonder and magic, “he explains.

In addition, the producer adds: “But it also represents our future: when you think of the beauty that we have been able to bring to the screen, it has to do with what the studio is today, or the music that Lin Manuel Miranda has composed, which it mixes the way of making songs more than a century ago with other very modern ones, like reggaeton songs, and that’s why for me it is the confluence of the past and the future of Disney Animation and that is what is incredible in this film“adds Clark Spencer, also a producer on the film, as well as the director of Disney Animation Studios.

Why Colombia?

He also says that the choice of Colombia was between obvious, when talking about music, and casual, when he explains how they came to the conclusion that this had to be the country. “Being a story about the family, it was perfect for it to happen in Latin America. And then the question arose as to which country to set it in. At Zootropolis we had worked with two documentary filmmakers who helped us make the Zotropolis documentary behind the camera. And they were both from Colombia and when we told them that we were working on a story that we wanted to set in Latin America they told us, well, you have to come to see Colombia, “he recalls.


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So they organized a trip in which Lin Manuel Miranda, his father Luis, Byron Howard and Jared Bush got on a plane and spent two weeks touring Colombia with other cultural consultants. “They fell in love with Colombia for many reasons. First because of its diversity: in its musical richness, in culture, in biodiversity and nature, so that confirmed that this was the place to locate history.”

The real magic

But in addition, many of the elements that appear in the film related to magic are inspired by magical realism and the novels of the Colombian Nobel Prize winner Gabriel García Márquez. “Each film is a journey that usually happens over the years and when you start the research process there are always things that I never would have ever thought would be part of the film and that happened to us with magical realism”recalls the producer.

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“It’s such an important writing style in Colombia that it pervades everything. And going there, and hearing about it helped us form the idea that there should be magic in this film. But it had to be magic that came from emotion, It wasn’t a magician thing, or a spell thing, it should come from within being emotional. And from there came the idea of ​​these characters that they could have magic as a family inheritance, and that the house could be alive “, recalls the producer.

Violence in Colombia

Another aspect that was considered to be included in its story was violence, which in Colombia is closely linked to its history, although they wanted it to be present in the film because it was faithful to reality, they did not want to make it the central theme either.


“The idea that our characters would have to flee their home and settle in another place, which is the trigger for the film, came from conversations with different Colombians who told us that violence is part of Colombian history”recalls the producer. “The way to make it present was to tell it from the perspective of someone who had had to flee and who felt that he had made that change for his family and felt responsible for it and that was going to condition the decisions he made, and that is an idea very universal, “Spencer explains.

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And he concludes: “People who leave one place to go to another feel the responsibility of creating the magical environment they have always dreamed of, and that sometimes pushes you and you don’t always have the strength to do it. So for us it was natural. . But to be fair we wanted it to be the starting point of the film, it was important because it is part of its history, but we are telling the story of this incredible family and its complex dynamics, which we all know, because we all love our families but it’s not always easy “, concludes the Disney director.

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