As an Oscar nominee in his role of director for the short “La Luna,” Enrico has drawn inspiration from both his personal and work experiences. He arrived at Pixar in 2001 after working on several projects across the US – an animation workshop on the east coast, a TV studio, “Ice Age” at Blue Sky Studios – all of which he describes as “many little jumps.” In the end it’s been a matter of will, patience and visas!
The characters in “La Luna” use typical Italian gestures. As an Italian, are these gestures something you are proud of or do you tend to make fun of them?
That’s a good question! I totally love the specificity of how we express ourselves. You know, it’s something we can’t help but do. We take it for granted in our regular lives, but coming here to the States I think we’re a little more aware of it.
For me, the process was about valuing my past and my roots. Ultimately it is a kind of love letter to my childhood and the seaside, since I’m from Genova, Liguria. Gesticulating is something for animators to explore more. Normally they use it to make a character talk, but here we really watched a lot of movies about it, like Massimo Troisi’s La Smorfia … I read that the reason that Neapolitans are so great at gesticulating is because they were invaded by so many different people over the centuries whose languages they didn’t manage to learn. It became part of the Neapolitan culture because that’s how they were able to explain things to each other without knowing each other’s languages. I thought that was really interesting.
In the trailer for “Brave” trailer I was struck by a sentence addressed to princess Merida, like “Are you willing to pay the price requested for your freedom?” It seems that you are very attracted by the topic of freedom. Does someone inspire this in you or is it the scarcity of such attitude in real life that makes you dream?
… I think I’m surrounded by a lot of inspiring people here at Pixar. One thing everybody here believes is that you should ell a story that matters to you. We should know that we don’t have all the time we want here, so we should be doing what we love. I’m inspired by many people around here and Steve Jobs is one of them since he believed in really following your dreams and doing what you want because if you are completely passionate about what you’re doing you feel like it’s not even work.
… Trusting and following your dreams is certainly part of “La Luna” and interestingly there is a parallel with “Brave” as well. Both characters are looking to follow their own paths.
In some of the most recent and most successful releases from Pixar the protagonists are children (Up, La Luna..) or little characters (Ratatouille, Cars..). Is there a message behind this choice, perhaps the idea that even the greatest actions can be carried out by the smallest people?
I think it’s less about size and more about growth. Coming of age stories are wonderful and they often give us the basis on which to build an exciting movie … Also, and this is how I felt with “La Luna,” my biggest wish would be for them to really feel like this little kid. I personally thought a lot about the young audience that we have because I’d love to inspire them. I think there wouldn’t’ be anything better than inspiring the young ones. We make movies for everybody and I think it would be great for older people to watch “La Luna” and feel like a little kid again. More importantly, I just hope that it says something to kids, that it tells them to follow their intuition and guts sometimes. It’s so much easier when the protagonist is one of them.