Embracing the Asian influence of the film
To tell a story set in China and with Chinese characters, Glen Keane also went to China and surrounded himself with the Asian influences that are seen in the film.
Keane explains that he wanted to tell the story from the point of discovery– a time when one is excited to share what they’ve just experienced.
“Eating dinner in a Chinese family’s home with the family around and the honesty of that family, the things they would say… they were so refreshingly frank!” shared Keane.
“And the food was so wonderful and the smells and the color and the light, that’s everything that we tried to put into this movie with my production designer Celine Desrumaux and the animators,” he added.
Finding Fei Fei.
In their search for Fei Fei, Glen knew that whoever will be the voice of the young protagonist will carry enormous weight. It needed to be someone who can also deliver the pain and loss that Fei Fei has experienced.
Producer Gennie Rim introduced Glen to the Filipina-Chinese actress Cathy Ang, and he knew she would be perfect for the role. “If you meet Cathy Ang, this is a woman who exudes a warmth. Her heart, her sincerity, you can’t help but love her.”
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“There’s this sparkle in her eyes and afterwards I said ‘Gennie, I think, Cathy Ang should be our Fei Fei’ and she said, ‘I know! I know!’ And that was how we hired her and her singing voice was [just] so phenomenal.” Glen shared.
Making the Moon Goddess.
Director Glen Keane is well-aware how the story of the Moon Goddess Chang ‘e is deeply embedded in the Chinese culture, and for him it was a challenge to take something sacred and play with it to tell the story of Over The Moon.
Keane wanted to deliver back to the Chinese audiences the Chang ‘e that they know and love, but richer and better and more empathetic. “I think that’s what happens when you take a character and bring them through trials and difficulty and pain. All of us, it shapes our character and who we are,” the director said.
Voiced by Hamilton star, Philippa Soo, the film’s Chang’e got a modern makeover with her stellar performances that could cheer a crowd like Katy Perry. But underneath all the grandeur of the Moon Goddess, there is still the Chang’e who simply wants to be with her beloved Hou Yi again.
Director Glen Keane also shared with us details about the brilliant costume design of Chang’e made by Chinese fashion designer Guo Pei.
“Guo Pei had drawn these intricate embroidery in the costumes, and I was asking her about the symbolism. She said ‘Well, Chang’e is wearing her love for Hou Yi.'” Said Keane.
“The birds, there’s a male bird and there’s a female, and they represent the two of them and you see them intertwined in the front of her costume. On the back there’s an image of the sun, which she never sees anymore, with Hou Yi shooting an arrow at it. [He’s the person] she loves but she cannot see him.”