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While Miranda wore fluffy shirts backstage on a little Broadway show called Hamilton.

At an early press day for Disney Animation Studios’ latest feature MoanaLegion of Leia asked story writers Jared Bush and Dave Pimentel about working with Lin-Manuel Miranda in order to create the film’s musical moments. As we found out at an earlier presentation from the film’s directors Ron Clements and John MuskerMiranda’s unprecedented success with Hamilton proved something to work around while being in production on Moana. See, they had hired Lin after admiring his work on In the Heights and meeting him before he took his shot on Broadway as Alexander Hamilton.

MOANA - (L-R) Jared Bush (Screenwriter), Dave Pimentel (Head of Story), David Derrick (Story Artist) and Sunmee Joh (Story Artist) present at the Moana Long Lead Press Day on July 27, 2016 at Walt Disney Animation Studios - Tujunga Campus in North Hollywood, CA. Photo by Alex Kang. © 2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

MOANA – (L-R) Jared Bush (Screenwriter), Dave Pimentel (Head of Story), David Derrick (Story Artist) and Sunmee Joh (Story Artist) present at the Moana Long Lead Press Day on July 27, 2016 at Walt Disney Animation Studios © 2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Jared Bush explained that they worked around his schedule and those of the film’s additional music contributors Opetai’i Foa’i and Mark Mancina to flesh out the musical story. “That’s a really fun part of the process, it’s super collaborative and it’s the same way with the songwriters. So with Lin, with Opetai’a and Mark. They’re all our partners story-wise and we like to have the songs propel characters and the story forward.” He said about treating it more fluidly, ” It’s really great in the limited amount of time we have to tell the story for the songs to help with that. So as we’re doing that over the course of the movie what we try to do is find moments where its usally a very important emotional moment that the character will then sing. We spent a lot of time trying to figure out where those songs should go.”

Dave Pimentel added about the process,  “We board those scenes out without music initially and the scene has to work without it.” It’s these story boards that would be sent to Miranda to work on for inspiration. “After that depending on Lin’s availability, he would craft a song. We would go back and forth. We had him before Hamilton and then he got real busy.” Pimentel laughed.

“It was also fun giving notes to him when he was wearing his fluffy shirt.” Bush revealed about the other side of Lin working on Moana backstage, which we know about through his tweets where he’d talk about letting cast-mates listen to his rough tracks and taking meetings. He would also fly in for recording sessions like the one pictured below with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.

'Like the tide, always rising'

‘Like the tide, always rising’- lyrics we saw on a slide. 😉

To Bush and Pimentel, Lin and their music team were very instrumental in bringing the film’s vision to life. “It was very serious. That’s a really fun part of the process. There’s many songs that were written that aren’t actually a part of the movie because eventually the character changed or the story changed. We know the way’ the big voyaging song, that didn’t used to be where it is, it used to start the movie.”  Bush revealed.

“It used to be in the beginning as a celebration of the Polynesian culture and what they did with miraculous way finding skills that they had and the brave people of the South Pacific.” Pimentel elaborated.  “We had it out front and John Lasseter was the one who told us ‘let’s put that over here in the cave way finders scene because we want to experience it with our 16 year old character and see it through her eyes.”

Our inner 16 year old girl is squeeing in anticipation for more of Disney’s Moana and music by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

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Sabina Ibarra

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