Into the Unknown: Making Frozen II

television series

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Into the Unknown
Into the Unknown logo
GenreDocumentary
Directed byMegan Harding
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of series1
No. of episodes6
Production
Executive producers
  • Amy Astley
  • Jeanmarie Condon
Production locationUnited States
Running time29 to 44 minutes
Production companyThe Walt Disney Company
DistributorWalt Disney Direct-to-Consumer & International
Release
Original networkDisney+
Original releaseJune 26, 2020 (2020-06-26)
External links
Official website
Infobox instructions (only shown in preview)

Into the Unknown: Making Frozen II is a 2020 documentary series about Disney's animated film Frozen II, which premiered in November 2019. Its six episodes follow the production crew and voice actors of Frozen II in the film's final year of development. This includes the story development and reworking of the song "Show Yourself", the variety of different roles in the animation process, the songwriting and orchestral arrangements, and the post-production process. It was directed by Megan Harding, who was previously involved with a 2014 documentary on the making of the 2013 film Frozen, and released on the streaming service Disney+.

The documentary was produced by Lincoln Square Productions. Harding aimed to represent the production process honestly and the crew filmed for 115 days. They frequently flew between New York City, where they worked, and Los Angeles, where the main Frozen II offices were, with some filming at individual staff member's houses. The series received positive critical reception.

Cast

Production crew

Voice actors

Production

In 2014, Australian filmmaker Megan Harding met the main production crew of the 2013 Disney film Frozen while working on a television special for American Broadcasting Company (ABC) a year after the film's release.[8][9] Production on the sequel Frozen II began in 2014. In December 2018, working with Lincoln Square Productions, Harding began documenting its filmmaking process. She and most of the crew flew between New York City, where they worked, and Los Angeles for the majority of filming.[8][10] Covering the last year of production, the crew recorded 1,300 hours of footage across 115 days of shooting.[11] The local crew filmed the Lopezes from their New York City apartment, and footage of their meetings with other production crew was variously captured from one or both sides of the conversation or from the teleconferencing technology directly.[8][10]

Harding aimed to represent the process honestly and detail "the personal investment and creative struggle", rather than making "a DVD extra". The crew had to select aspects of the production to focus on, such as the development of "Show Yourself".[8] Harding did not plan to include mention of Buck's loss of his son Ryder, but Buck brought it up himself, unexpectedly, and the filming crew was in tears by the end of the conversation.[12] Though there were meetings in which Buck suggested it was "not a good day for cameras", the camera crew only left the room once during the year, in a meeting following the film's first screening to a family audience.[8][12] Peter Del Vecho later said that the crew of Frozen II wanted to "show the world" the size of the crew and "the hard work it takes to put these films together", though he found it a "tough process" to have the documentary crew filming for a year. Josh Gad experienced self-consciousness, as Olaf's dialogue and singing were developed with "experiment and play". Lee found it enjoyable to show the crew how animation worked; she said of the "very intense" story room that it was harder to be filmed, but that the crew "were very patient with us".[10]

The documentary features the song "See the Sky", which was cut from the final film but not released in the soundtrack.[11] Harding's favorite scene which was cut from the series was Giaimo discussing what he viewed as the crew's "passion, dedication, and specific OCD-like tendencies" while trimming his hedges to resemble the shape of trees in Frozen.[13] The documentary omits mention of John Lasseter, the chief creative officer before Lee who left the role after reports of him perpetrating sexual misconduct against employees in his position at Disney.[9][14][15] It also does not cover the production's consultations with the Sámi people over their representation in the film, which largely occurred prior to the final year of production.[16]

Episodes

No. in
season
TitleDirected byOriginal release dateLength
(minutes)
1"A Year to Premiere"Megan HardingJune 26, 2020 (2020-06-26)44 minutes

At a three-monthly screening held to showcase the current work on Frozen 2, the early animation, storyboards, and initial song drafts are played to professional filmmakers. Their feedback in a following panel informs the direction of the story. Currently, the songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert "Bobby" Lopez are working on "Some Things Never Change". The cast comes in to record their parts for the song: Idina Menzel as Elsa, Kristen Bell as Anna, Josh Gad as Olaf, and Jonathan Groff as Kristoff.

Wayne Unten is an animation supervisor and Malerie Walters is an animator. A group of 90 character animators are directed by supervisors for each character, who ensure a consistent style throughout the film. At dailies, Walters shows her work to the directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck. She is animating a scene at the end of "Into the Unknown" in which Elsa runs and leaps.

Most of the vocals for "Into the Unknown" have been recorded. A 90-piece orchestra records the full score. Meanwhile, the Lopezes are working on a storyboard of "Show Yourself" and discussing whether it fits with Elsa's personality and motivations with other staff.
2"Back to the Drawing Board"Megan HardingJune 26, 2020 (2020-06-26)42 minutes

In February 2019, nine months before release, about 20% of the movie has been animated. The first trailer is about to be released. Meanwhile, Groff is recording the parts of Kristoff and Sven in the rock ballad "Lost in the Woods". He was originally to sing a song about Kristoff proposing to Anna, "Get This Right", but his storyline was adapted so that he would propose at the end of the film rather than the beginning.

Production designer Michael Giaimo discusses the narrative of "Show Yourself" with Lee. Lee has been working long hours in a routine that involves her waking up at 4:45 a.m. on weekdays and working from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. on weekends. She converses with Walters, who is working on a segment of "Lost in the Woods" where reindeer run and sing. Meanwhile, the character technical director Iker de Los Mozos has been creating "rigging"—barebones animation—for reindeer, working on their facial expressions as they sing.

"Show Yourself" has been rewritten to build up more gradually, but Bobby, Kristen, and Jennifer discuss whether the song should be kept or replaced altogether.
3"Journey to Ahtohallan"Megan HardingJune 26, 2020 (2020-06-26)39 minutes

The next screening introduces "See the Sky", where the Northuldra tribe and Arendelle soldier Mattias first appear. Producer Peter Del Vecho found that it was not received by the audience as hoped, so it is cut. However, "Show Yourself" is kept with some reworkings. The crew discusses who the voice calling Elsa is, settling on Elsa's mother, Queen Iduna. Sterling K. Brown comes in to record dialogue for Mattias, the first character of African descent in the Frozen franchise. Evan Rachel Wood records for Queen Iduna in "Show Yourself".

Giaimo explains the design of the glacier Ahtohallan. It was informed by a crew's research trip to Norway, Finland, and Iceland in 2016. Art director of environments David Womersley and his team are building it around Elsa's movements in "Show Yourself".

"The Next Right Thing" developed from a conversation between Bell and Lee about Bell's depression and anxiety. Lee relates to Anna based on her experiences of being bullied. Hyun Min Lee, who is Anna's animation supervisor, works on animating her sadder emotions. Another inspiration for the song was Buck's loss of his 23-year-old son Ryder, to whom a character of the same name was dedicated.
4"Big Changes"Megan HardingJune 26, 2020 (2020-06-26)38 minutes

Five months before the premiere, the film is first shown to a family audience. The animation is roughly half-finished. Feedback to Olaf and the salamander is very positive. Adults received the storyline positively, but the children found it hard to understand. Lee rewrites the script to be simpler and more humorous. A new scene shows Olaf explain the storyline of Frozen to characters in the Enchanted Forest. Shot coordinator Jonny Hylton collates a list of shots and scenes which will remain and which will need to be changed.

Meanwhile, Gad records "When I Am Older", a song in which Olaf is nervous, in contrast to his Frozen song "In Summer". Improvisation has informed some of Gad's dialogue in both movies.

Layout artist Juan Hernandez works on the virtual "cameras" for animated scenes, which determine the angles at which the scene is shown. Effects supervisor Erin Ramos works on the large body of water that approaches Arendelle near the end of the movie. The simulations are large-scale and can take days for the technology to compute.
5"Race to the Finish"Megan HardingJune 26, 2020 (2020-06-26)32 minutes

By June 2019, five months to the premiere, much of the crew are working longer hours six days a week. The script is locked after a change to the movie's opening: to avoid confusing the audience, a young Anna and Elsa are shown earlier. A prologue involving an unknown narrator discussing the Northuldra tribe is replaced, Queen Iduna now singing "All Is Found" in a lullaby.

Effects designer Dan Lund is working on Elsa's dress transformation in "Show Yourself", which must incorporate the snowflake motif. Simulations are run on the movement of Elsa's hair and clothing in the wind, involving tests with real-life fabric. The lighting department works on the brightness of the scene. In Burbank, California, singers are recording the joik "Forest Vuelie", an adaptation of the joik which opens Frozen. In Frozen II, it is sung by the Northuldra people. Christophe Beck writes the instrumental score of the film.

Exclusive scenes from the movie are to be shown at the D23 Expo, a fan convention. Jennifer and Chris take photos and sign autographs before an animated "Into the Unknown" premieres onstage, followed by the main cast singing "Some Things Never Change" live.
6"The World Awaits"Megan HardingJune 26, 2020 (2020-06-26)29 minutes

Three months prior to the premiere, in August 2019, the studio is being decorated with Frozen II art, including character sculptures. Dave Metzger works on the 85-piece orchestral score for "Show Yourself", which is then recorded. A month later is the final day of animation. Editor Jeff Draheim has been working 14-hour days, beginning at 4 a.m. After animation finishes, foley artists work on recording additional sounds in synchronicity with the animation. Sound designer Odin Benitez is working on rock sounds for the rock giants.

A month to premiere, Lee and Buck give the final sign-off to the sound mix. The wrap party takes place five days before the film's release—it marks the first time most of the crew have seen the film from start to finish. In the days following, the main cast make television appearances. On the day of the world premiere, the crew arrives at an event where fans are lining up to watch the movie. The film is played across the world in 46 languages and becomes the hіghest-grossing anіmated fіlm of all tіme—according to Disney, who do not view the 2019 remake of The Lion King as animated.

Release

External video
video icon "Into the Unknown: Making Frozen 2"
The series' trailer

In April 2019, it was announced that a companion documentary series would be launched on the Disney+ streaming service within its first year entitled Into the Unknown: Making Frozen 2.[17] Frozen 2 was released in November 2019.[18] The documentary's first trailer premiered in June 2020 and the series was released on June 26, 2020.[18][11] Radio Times held a live discussion with Buck, Unten, and Walters at 5 p.m. BST on the day of its release.[19] At the 2020 Annecy International Animation Film Festival, which was held online, the first episode of the documentary was made available from June 26 to June 28.[20] Frozen 2 was added to Disney+ shortly afterward, on July 3.[18]

Reception

Ed Potton of The Times rated it four stars out of five, who said that "such honesty is still rare in Hollywood" and that the challenges faced by the staff make the "cheesy payoffs hit home".[21] Drew Taylor of Collider rated the documentary an A, calling it "thoroughly riveting and surprisingly honest". Taylor compared it favorably to Disney's previous behind-the-scenes releases for "showing the filmmakers at their most vulnerable, both personally and artistically".[9] Joel Keller of Decider similarly found that it "doesn't suffer from the usual Disney self-promotional schtick" and was "a very informative series that shows that even the best animated features run into issues".[22] Ethan Anderton of /Film reviewed it as "informative and fascinating". Anderton praised it for featuring "touching and crushingly honest moments" such as Bell's relation to "The Next Right Thing", and covering the "frustration" involved in adapting "Show Yourself".[23] Nick Romano of Entertainment Weekly recommended it for demonstrating that "there's as much heart behind these films as there are on screen".[24]

References

  1. ^ a b Grobar, Matt (December 31, 2019). ""Frozen 2' Director Jennifer Lee On Crafting Sequel, Her Vision As Disney Animation's Chief Creative Officer & The Opportunities Presented By Disney+". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on February 25, 2021. Retrieved July 17, 2021.
  2. ^ a b Desowitz, Bill (November 25, 2019). "'Frozen 2': How Oscar-Winning 'Let It Go' Songwriters Ventured 'Into the Unknown'". IndieWire. Archived from the original on April 16, 2021. Retrieved July 17, 2021.
  3. ^ Grobar, Matt (November 21, 2019). "'Frozen 2' Producer Peter Del Vecho On Questions Answered By Sequel To Disney Smash – The Contenders L.A. Video". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on February 15, 2021. Retrieved July 17, 2021.
  4. ^ Ito, Robert (October 31, 2019). "Anna, Elsa and the Costume Designers Who Create Their Looks". The New York Times. Archived from the original on July 10, 2021. Retrieved July 17, 2021.
  5. ^ Rowney, Jo-Anne (July 2, 2020). "Frozen 2 animator reveals how film is linked to Pocahontas and Moana". Radio Times. Archived from the original on July 17, 2021. Retrieved July 17, 2021.
  6. ^ Hallman Jr, Tom (February 4, 2021). "Meet the Salem maestro behind the music of 'Frozen,' both on screen and on stage". The Oregonian. Archived from the original on July 17, 2021. Retrieved July 17, 2021.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Sharf, Zack (February 13, 2019). "'Frozen 2' First Trailer: Elsa and Anna Return in Dazzling New Footage". IndieWire. Archived from the original on February 16, 2019. Retrieved July 17, 2021.
  8. ^ a b c d e Taylor, Drew (June 26, 2020). "'Into the Unknown' Director Megan Harding on Documenting the Making of 'Frozen 2'". Collider. Archived from the original on February 7, 2021. Retrieved August 8, 2020.
  9. ^ a b c Taylor, Drew (June 22, 2020). "Disney+'s 'Into the Unknown' Review: A Brilliantly Candid Look at the Making of 'Frozen 2'". Collider. Archived from the original on August 29, 2020. Retrieved August 8, 2020.
  10. ^ a b c Anderton, Ethan (June 26, 2020). "'Into the Unknown: Making Frozen 2' Added Even More Pressure to Creating a Hit Disney Sequel". /Film. Archived from the original on June 28, 2020. Retrieved August 8, 2020.
  11. ^ a b c Davis, Victoria (June 26, 2020). "'Into the Unknown: Making Frozen 2' Documentary Arrives on Disney+". Animation World Network. Archived from the original on June 29, 2020. Retrieved August 8, 2020.
  12. ^ a b Manente, Kristina (July 27, 2020). "Into the Unknown: Making Frozen 2 Doc Might Make You Cry Harder Than the Movie". Syfy Wire. Archived from the original on August 12, 2020. Retrieved August 9, 2020.
  13. ^ Libbey, Dirk (July 14, 2020). "The Frozen 2 Documentary Director's Favorite Scene That Didn't Make The Final Cut". CinemaBlend. Archived from the original on July 16, 2020. Retrieved August 9, 2020.
  14. ^ Chitwood, Adam (January 18, 2019). "'Toy Story 3', 'Coco' Director Lee Unkrich Is Leaving Pixar". Collider. Archived from the original on January 20, 2019. Retrieved August 8, 2020.
  15. ^ Barnes, Brooks (June 8, 2018). "Pixar Co-Founder to Leave Disney After 'Missteps'". The New York Times. Archived from the original on March 30, 2021. Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  16. ^ Mason, Jessica (July 10, 2020). "Documentary Director Megan Harding Talks Finding the Story Behind Frozen 2". The Mary Sue. Archived from the original on August 15, 2020. Retrieved August 9, 2020.
  17. ^ Clemens, Danny (April 12, 2019). "'Into the Unknown: Making Frozen 2' docu-series to chronicle making of 'Frozen' sequel". KGO-TV. Archived from the original on July 12, 2021. Retrieved July 12, 2021.
  18. ^ a b c Cremona, Patrick (June 23, 2020). "Disney+ releases trailer for Into the Unknown: Making Frozen 2". Radio Times. Archived from the original on July 29, 2020. Retrieved August 9, 2020.
  19. ^ Bird, Emily (June 26, 2020). "Join us for Disney's Into the Unknown: Making Frozen 2 Live Q&A with the movie's director and animators". Radio Times. Archived from the original on June 30, 2020. Retrieved August 9, 2020.
  20. ^ Hopewell, John; Lang, Jamie (June 4, 2020). "Annecy Film Festival Presentations Include 'Frozen 2' Doc, Lord & Miller, and 'Chicken Run' Reunion". Variety. Archived from the original on August 21, 2020. Retrieved August 9, 2020.
  21. ^ Potton, Ed (June 25, 2020). "Into the Unknown: Making Frozen II review— the brutal machinery beneath the glossy surface". The Times. Archived from the original on August 7, 2020. Retrieved August 9, 2020.
  22. ^ Keller, Joel (June 26, 2020). "Stream It Or Skip It: 'Into The Unknown: Making Frozen 2' On Disney+, A Docuseries About The Challenges Of Making The Sequel To 'Frozen'". Decider. Archived from the original on August 8, 2020. Retrieved August 9, 2020.
  23. ^ Anderton, Ethan (June 22, 2020). "'Into the Unknown: Making Frozen 2' Digs Deep into the Challenges of Making Disney Magic". /Film. Archived from the original on August 25, 2020. Retrieved August 8, 2020.
  24. ^ Romano, Nick (June 26, 2020). "What to Watch this Weekend: Disney+ goes behind the scenes of Frozen 2 in new docuseries". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on July 27, 2020. Retrieved August 9, 2020.

Further reading

External links

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