December 31st, 2014
From the creative minds of the Disney-Pixar studios comes another animated film, this one a short, seven-minute movie called Lava. Released this year, it is a musical directed by James Ford Murphy and produced by Andrea Warren.
While the film premiered at the Hiroshima International Animation Festival in June, it also screened for Hawaii audiences in November. Nationwide, it will be theatrically released with Pixar's Inside Out on June 19, 2015.
The short is a musical love story that takes place over millions of years. It's taken this team two and a half years to make.
Murphy wrote the song and plays the ukulele, while Hawaii musician Kuana Torres Kahele sings as well as stars as Uku, the lonely volcano searching for his true love. Musician Napua Greig voices Lele, another volcano and Uku's love interest.
I had a chance to meet Murphy and Warren while they were in the Islands for the screening, and asked Murphy what inspired him to write this. He told me he's always liked Hawaii since he first set foot here 25 years ago for his honeymoon, and has always had a goal for himself to write stories about what he loves.
Murphy comes over about once a year and enjoys "the beauty and culture of the Islands. I love learning about the Islands," he said, and explains that it all feds into his research for this film.
Twelve years ago, he heard Israel Kamakawiwoo`le's rendition of Over the Rainbow and was inspired to include that in a film. Three years ago, he bought a ukulele in Hilo while vacationing on Hawaii Island and learned to play it just so he could play the film's soundtrack. "It wasn't so hard. I've played guitar my whole life," he said.
I had the pleasure of hearing him play and sing the theme song; he has a wonderful voice!
"I love playing my ukulele. It is intoxicating. It makes me happy," he continued, weaving in a reference to ukulele star Jake Shimabukuro's comment that if everyone played the ukulele, the world would be a happier place.
When we met, the Hawaii Island lava flow was creeping into Pahoa, threatening homes and making international headlines. Would he and Murphy like to try to see the lava, since it's the namesake for their film? They laughed and said there wasn't enough time on this trip, but they have enjoyed seeing the volcano before, and would like to again someday.
Lava, as Murphy describes it, as a story about "the power and patience of love."
Would they ever expand it past seven minutes? "No, I think it's a perfect gem just the way it is. A little love story with charm and beauty that will leave you with an emotional impact."
Look for it in theaters next June. You'll lava it.