My Day at the Moana Masterclass

If you follow me on Twitter and Instagram, you may have seen that last weekend I was lucky enough to travel up to London to go to the Moana Masterclass, put on by The Guardian, and it was such an incredible day!


Despite being up at 5.30am, I was so hyped for the day that I didn’t get a wink of sleep on the train like I normally would – although the shrieking children across the aisle from me may have had something to do with that – and I arrived at Waterloo feeling super excited. In all the excitement, however, I managed to forget to put a memory card in my camera that morning, so I’m afraid all my photos from the day were taken on my phone as I had no time to buy one in my dash from Waterloo to the cinema!


The event was at Picturehouse Central – the cutest cinema located just off Shaftesbury Avenue – and it was outside there that I met my company for the day, Sophie, Cara and Courtney, and we headed inside to join the queue of people waiting to be lead in. The queue time consisted of a great deal of Disney discussion, as you’d expect, interrupted only by the guy coming to check our tickets.. and hand out 3D glasses. At this point my heart dropped a little as I had no idea we’d be shown the movie in 3D, and I’ve never enjoyed watching things in 3D, but I tried to keep an open mind.

We were taken to a screen right at the top floor of the building – hello three sets of escalators! It was a fairly small room, which was great because we were in the third row and felt fully emerged in the whole thing. After a little introduction, we went straight into the good stuff – the latest short, called Inner Workings, which was a brilliantly funny cautionary tale about embracing life – then the movie began..

I’m not gonna spoil the story, but I had tears streaming from the first minute. As well as the film meaning a lot to me personally, it was just so perfect. I’d probably go as far as saying its the most visually stunning film I have ever seen; Disney have absolutely out-done themselves on this one. As for the 3D, I actually thought it only made the film better! Unlike other films, it didn’t feel like I was watching something in 3D, it just gave the scenes a more natural feeling of depth, and I would actually recommend seeing it in 3D if you have the change!

Everything about the film was perfect, the casting, the music, the visual effects, andย it left me speechless, feeling totally in awe.

After the showing, we had a break for lunch, which, while the food was good, the organisation was a little poor as there wasn’t space for everyone to get around the buffet, and we had to stand as there wasn’t enough seating for everyone in the lounge that it was done in, but we filled the time talking more Disney, then went back into the screen for the Masterclass with John Musker, Ron Clements and Osnat Shurer.


For starters, seeing Disney legends so close was just so awesome. They started with a presentation about their inspiration for the film, and all the research that went into ensuring cultural accuracy, then went on to talk about the casting, music and all the stages of production from storyboards to finishing effects. As John and Ron are famous for their hand-drawn animation, it was really interesting to hear about their first experience with digital animation on this film.


After their presentation, there was a short Q&A session. We learned a little about how John and Ron both got into Disney animation in very different ways, they talked a little about some of the Easter Eggs in the film (look out for them!) and they also gave some advice for those looking to get into animation and film making. As a total dunce when it comes to animation and visual effects, I just sat and listened to what was being asked and answered, but if you want to know a little more, keep an eye out on Courtney’s blog as I’m sure she’ll be posting a more detailed account from the eye of an illustrator!

Honestly, it might sound like I’m just gushing about this but that’s because it was such an incredible experience and I had the greatest day. I feel so lucky to have been able to see the film before general release, and it was more perfect than I could have ever dreamed, and I just feel so honoured to have been in a room with such legends from the world of Disney. There’s one quote from the day that stuck in my head the most, and its a quote from an elder that the team met on one of their many research trips:

“We’ve been swallowed by your culture. One time, can you be swallowed by our culture?”

Let yourself be swallowed by this film. You’ll enjoy every second of it.

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