Monday, April 8, 2013

Roger Rabbit Reunion Panel

The Who Framed Roger Rabbit: A Toontown Reunion screening opened with an outburst of applause on night of April 4th, 2013 in celebration of the films achievements and appreciation of traditional hand-drawn 2D animation. Various members of the film’s cast and crew were on hand either for the stage panel, or also in the audience. The evening was hosted by Rich Moore, the director of Wreck-It Ralph, who spoke with the panel guests: director Robert Zemeckis, screenwriters Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman, associate producer Steve Starkey, artist Andreas Deja, associate producer Don Hahn, actress Joanna Cassidy, and voice actor Charles Fleischer. Who had to dye their hair for the movie? What did Robert Zemeckis think of Jessica's original dress? Did anyone ask about the sequel? Find Out!!

Rich Moore opened with the words of late film critic, Roger Ebert, "What you feel when you see a movie like this is more than appreciation. It's gratitude," Ebert wrote in his June 22, 1988 review of Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Oscar-winning producer Don Hahn talked about how the Roger Rabbit crew was re-inventing rules of mixing live-action with animation as the film was already underway: “The cameras were not locked down,” he said. “There were previous rules associated with Mary Poppins and Pete’s Dragon, but I learned on that movie that you just say yes, when people ask you to do something. They say they want to move the camera? I’d say yes. You want to have glitter on Jessica’s dress? I’d say yes. There was not tracking software, everything was by hands, pencil and paint. The most amazing technology we got was a fax machine which arrived when we were halfway through the movie!”

Don Hahn also joked about how everyone would try to distract Roy Disney from seeing the over-the-top design of Jessica Rabbit whenever he would come visit the studio, always trying to bring Disney's attention to Mickey Mouse's presence in the movie.

As you may be aware, Jessica's look changed before animation work started, and was finalized at the very last minute. Her wardrobe was also envisioned somewhat differently, including a halter top Zemeckis felt was inappropriate for the 1940s time period: "When Russell (Hall, supervising animator) and Richard (Williams, animation director) first designed Jessica, they had her in a halter. I said, 'Oh, we can't have that. It doesn't look like it's from the '40s, it looks like it's from the 60's.' They go, 'They'll never let you do it any other way. I said, 'No! We've gotta take that halter off. We've gotta give her a good toony chest.' And they were stunned that we were able to design her that way."

Jeffrey Price mentioned: "We thought that Jessica would be like one of the classic movie stars." to which Peter S. Seaman added: "With a bigger chest, really." Price continued, "Right. It's kind of surprising to see how big all those things are in the movie. It seems kind of immature when you look back on it."

Peter S. Seamen asked: "I was amazed at now naughty we were. How did we get away with that?"

Robert Zemeckis concluded: "It was the 80's."

Joanna Cassidy, who played Eddie's girlfriend Dolores, mentioned she had to change her normal red hair color to a darker shade so it wouldn’t match that of like Jessica Rabbit: “It was great to slide into those ‘40s clothes."

Speaking of clothes, Robert Zemeckis' wife, Leslie, was the biggest talk of the night - she came to the event dressed like Jessica Rabbit! The red glitter dress was complete with purple opera gloves and Jessica's hairdo.

After the panel discussion there was a brief Q and A period. So, did ANYONE ask about a sequel - yes! This is what Robert Zemeckis had to say:

"I don't know. Jeff [Price] and Peter [Seaman] wrote a screenplay. It's sitting there at Disney, so we don't know what's going to happen. You just never know."