Amos, (Me), Siddhartha, Elizabeth, and Dan of 'Aria for a Cow'

Amos, Me, Siddhartha, Stephanie, and Dan talking ‘Aria for a Cow’

The shorts programs at SFIFF58 have been increasing in popularity the last few years, and Shorts 5: Family Films is no exception. One film from the group, the colorful and magnificent musical Aria for a Cow, is appropriately quite the showstopper. I sat down with Disney animator and Aria for a Cow writer/director Dan Lund, art director and co-producer Amos Sussigan, background designer and painter Stephanie Dominguez, and production manager Siddhartha Maganti at the Hotel Majestic, a few blocks from where their short would premiere the next day and a few hours before their premiere party. The camaraderie within the group is infectious, and they had no trouble jumping right into the nitty gritty of their film: 

Where did the idea for Aria for a Cow originate?

Dan Lund: I’ve always had a pretty healthy ‘outside-of-Disney’ project type thing going. I was a PA in 1989 at Disney and was working with people who were working with Howard (Ashman). I had kept hearing about this passion project of his called ‘Fatty of the Opera’. Right before we started working on Frozen I had this period where I didn’t have an outside project to work on and it kinda freaked me out. I was in New York and I had mentioned to a friend, ‘I wonder what ever happened to Howard’s “Fatty of the Opera” project’ and my friend knew Sarah (Howard’s sister) peripherally and he said, ‘You should email her.’ So I did and she graciously agreed to give me all the information I needed on this passion project if I listened to her favorite song that no one has ever heard by him, called Aria for a Cow.” I really just did it to get the other thing I wanted, but the other thing I wanted turned out to be a little odder than I thought. And I just fell in love with the cow song. She let me turn it into an animated thing. Originally she was thinking of it being a children’s book but I don’t know that world at all. The song was just lyrics on a page. I wrote the wraparound. I didn’t just want to make a music video. I wanted the song to have a home that was as story-driven as the song.

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Film Review: Frozen

by Chad Liffmann on November 27, 2013

It’s worth visiting Frozen’s musical winter wonderland.

Characters chill in Disney's "Frozen"

Characters chill in Disney’s “Frozen”

Disney made a lot of smart moves with Frozen, the new animated family film being released just in time for the holiday season.  With snow/wintery elements at the core of its story, Frozen’s release is not only timed well at the beginning of the holidays, but is thematically (and seasonally) relevant.  Also, Disney had been toying with an adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen for over a decade, and rather than rush it out the gate, it appears that the studio took careful consideration for a worthwhile script and stellar musical accompaniment.  Finally, speaking of the music, Disney made a brilliant move by bringing in Robert Lopez, the Tony award winning composer behind the music for Avenue Q and The Book of Mormon.  With a Broadway style of musical energy driving the story along (at least for the first three quarters), Frozen is heartwarming fun with a very powerful feminine voice…one that would pass the Bechdel test with flying colors.

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