Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast Interview

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Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast on the surface seems to be about a tale regarding an ancient myth of a fabled creature who prompts Fawn (one of the resident pixie’s) curiosity by a mysterious roar. However, below the surface, it’s more of a story of learning the more complex issues of life, when to let go, and when to understand the balance between emotions and logic.

This was the aim of Director Steve Loter (“The Ren & Stimpy Show”, “Duckman”, and “Clerks: The Animated Series). Based on his credentials, I had inquired from what did he take of the shows that weren’t so kid-friendly and was able to take the experience he had and translate into something that the whole family could watch. His answer was that he had transitioned from when he did those shows as a single man into a family man. In short, another phase of his life happened in having children and a family. For instance, what had challenged him as a parent was that when he was growing up, he had little exposure or none to dogs. He had developed a phobia about them. The bigger they were, the bigger the fear. However, when he had his daughter, she had a love of dogs, especially BIG ONES. So, in short, he had utilized that fear and overcoming it to the NeverBeast’s character, Gruff. He showed the dynamic of Fawn, and the other Pixie’s reactions as components of his own personality, as well as his daughters and those around them.

In order to embody that emotive element to the story, that task fell on Mike Greenholt’s (Animation Supervisor) and Ryan Green’s (Story Artist) team. They were given to create a creature that was both mysterious and intimidating, but flit back between a different creature to possibly a monster. Through 2 years of research and endless studies, they came out with the concept of the NeverBeast – where he could charge like a rhino or lope playfully about like a happy dog. Ryan has a background in animal biology, so he was able to envision the musculature and the bone structure in order to make the creature look, emote, and walk right. It was amazing to see the skills that the artists and animators put together to create a creature that was an amalgamation of many different known creatures at once to create something so different, odd, mysterious, and at the same time, so relatable.

What helped in setting the mood and the flow of the story was Bleu (Featured Instrumentalist and Additional Score Production) and Brett Swain (Director, Music Production) who both had backgrounds in recording for Demi Lovato, Jonas Brothers and of Dolly Parton and Lita Ford, respectively. Due to their back expertise of music and sound, Bleu didn’t want any sort of music being regionally specific that could be identified to a certain location. He would improvise combinations of Nashville guitars alternating with strumming and leatherless dulcimer hammers to create the magical tones of Pixie Hollow. He would even go so far as to play around in Home Depot like a curious child, picking out the right flowerpots in order to make the percussion tones in the NeverBeast’s lair. What he had also voiced was the challenges is not to make the characters too obvious or one-sided. Nyx, one of the protector fairies in the Scout Fairies, was easy to gravitate towards being a militaristic theme, but Bleu went along the lines of her theme being more splintered and more on the premise of a police officer.

As for Fawn, I spoke with Ginnifer Goodwin (Snow White of “Once Upon a Time”) who voiced her. She discussed the challenges of acting on-screen, compared with voice acting. After hearing a recording of her initial attempt, she ditched the whole recording and tried again. This time, she took her “Once Upon A Time” co-star’s Eion Bailey’s advice. He had suggested to act out physically, rather than sit in a chair and record the voice acting. This is which she credits her satisfaction and success in this feature. She had stated, “You’re not doing good work, unless you feel ridiculous.” She had no idea how controlled she was in front of the camera, rather than depending on JUST her voice and ONLY her voice to carry the character. What drew her to Fawn, was that she felt as a new parent, that Disney has a way of telling really deep and very deep stories to children without sounding preachy.

Tinker Bell and the Tale of the NeverBeast will be coming straight to Blu-Ray and DVD on March 3rd, 2015. Rated G, approximately 76 minutes

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