When it comes to Raya and the Last Dragon, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic didn't just change its release date or the way it was released. This movie was made during the strictest parts of the stay-home orders in 2020, and that meant things were going to be done extremely differently. We knew that the cast had recorded some of their lines from home, infamously some of them recorded their lines in walk-in closets because that is the best place for sound quality fun fact, but it turns out it wasn't just post-production or voice acting that was done at home. During an interview with producer Osnat Shurer, she revealed that despite the movie being in development for years, almost all of it was made at home. She also spoke about making sure that everyone had a work-life balance which is something that many people have had a hard time balancing when working from home.
"I've been on the film for about four years," Shurer explained. "We had been in development for a long time. And we're putting up our screenings. We had our assets created. But honestly, it was almost all of production that had to be done. So come March of last year, we're just ramping up into production. Our assets are ready, and we get the message. Please take your computer and go home and we think we're going to be home for three weeks. And that was about a year ago. So if you would have asked me before the pandemic hit if we can do this, I would have said absolutely not. You're out of your mind. We cannot make a movie from home. But we did. And I think I think some of the challenges were technological, obviously. But our technology teams just ripped into action and got us up and running really fast. And we already had quite a bit of a work from home culture, but small. And so we had to scale it up. But I think are the bigger challenges we're cultural. There were about, you know, we like to work together in a room. We're building off each other's ideas where you're having side conversations; you're going grabbing a coffee with Adele. We're talking through this other idea, and here between, you know, on your way to editorial and you're talking things through and me, I'm feeding my crew. I can't feed my crew like this stuff on and on a producer.
"But I think what we broke through into was a different way of working," Shurer continued. "And part of it had to do with how long you can sit like this in front of a camera and judge, you know, animation and have great story ideas before your brain goes home, wishing I think there's only so many hours and working and breaks. And usually, at this time, the directors and I are putting in all hours and six days a week. And instead, we felt it was very important to keep a structure, to keep a good work-life balance for ourselves and the artists; that people need to eat with their families at a time like this. That and so we worked around it differently. We worked with every single artist on the movie to see what works for them in terms of overtime or not and family time. And we also delegated a lot more than we ever have before. And what this required, ironically, is an act of trust. We had to trust each other so much more."
Check out our full interview with Shurer and writer Adele Lim below:
Summary: "Raya and the Last Dragon" takes us on an exciting, epic journey to the fantasy world of Kumandra, where humans and dragons lived together long ago in harmony. But when an evil force threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, that same evil has returned, and it's up to a lone warrior, Raya, to track down the legendary last dragon to restore the fractured land and its divided people. However, along her journey, she'll learn that it'll take more than a dragon to save the world—it's going to take trust and teamwork as well.
Raya and the Last Dragon, with Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada directing and Paul Briggs and John Ripa co-directing, stars Kelly Marie Tran as the voice of the intrepid warrior Raya; Awkwafina as the legendary dragon, Sisu; Gemma Chan as Raya's nemesis, Namaari; Daniel Dae Kim as Raya's visionary father, Benja; Sandra Oh as Namaari's powerful mother, Virana; Benedict Wong as Tong, a formidable giant; Izaac Wang as Boun, a 10-year-old entrepreneur; Thalia Tran as the mischievous toddler Little Noi; Alan Tudyk as Tuk Tuk, Raya's best friend, and trusty steed; Lucille Soong as Dang Hu, the leader of the land of Talon; Patti Harrison as the chief of the Tail land; and Ross Butler as chief of the Spine land. It will be released in theaters and Disney+ Premiere Access on March 5th.