INTERVIEWS: Surf's Up
You guys having fun in Hawaii?
Heder: It's great here, huh? I'm not complaining.
LaBeouf: Me either. Anyway, Jon you have some slick pants, buddy!
Heder: Hey, I'm just being professional. No, I'm doing the Hawaiian thing man.
LaBeouf: Yeah, I know. I'm a loser. I didn't pack well.
With 'Surfs' Up,' you actually worked together in the studio. How was that experience different from the other voiceover work you've done?
Heder: I did one voice on another movie, 'Monster House' and even then I've never done a normal voice over, because that was all motion capture. So, that was like shooting a film. We had props and everything. On this, we had the little music stand with our dialogue and stuff, but it was kind of in a big open room. I have a couple of scenes with Shia and then one with Zooey [Deschanel] and it was kind of cool and different because it was interactive. We would actually wrestle and move around and that helped a lot.
LaBeouf: The only cartoon I've done was the 'Naushika' translation [Hayao Miyazaki's Nausicaä of the Valley of the Winds] and you had to stick to script a lot of the time. And when you have a lot of the actors in the room, you get to adlib and [the directors] would encourage it, because it was 'reality show' live. So, the cadence was different. It's not like the "bah dah dah, tsssh" joke. It's more 'Spinal Tap-y.' There are these little intricate moments that you get when you get the other actors there. Noises you wouldn't write down on a piece of paper in scripted form. So, it was great that we were encouraged to do it and that Sony let them encourage us to do it. So, we were in a really good environment for something like this.
We see some parallels to The Dude here.
[Laughs] Well, The Dude does weed. Big Z's into clams.
What about the character appealed to you most?
Gee, you know, what really got me on board was this whole surfing aspect of things and how well they pulled the water element of this film off. I said, "They're going to do a surfing movie, how are the waves going to look? Is it going to be almost like a photograph?" Then they started to show me some of the footage they had worked on. Being a surfer myself, it was a thrill to be able to be a part of bringing to the audience what that feels like to be locked in the tube.
What came first – the story, or the style?
Buck: The story. The story always comes first. Then the next step is to make sure we could create waves that were believable enough to carry the story.
Jenkins: We knew we were going to have to do skateboarding penguins if we couldn't get the waves. We did an early test with our vis-dev [visual development] department and we really didn't know if it could be done. We weren't asking our animators to put something on a wave but inside a wave. We knew that would be a central element to the story.
Who came up with the documentary angle?
Brannon: It was Chris' idea to do the story.
Jenkins: We wanted characters to do interviews with an improvisation style, hand-held camera. But what happened was – Sony , early on, had a surfing penguin movie that wasn't working. It went on the shelf; they put it away. I thought there was something kind of cool about it and came back with the documentary/reality-angle. Surfers seem to spend a lot of time doing documentaries on themselves so we should do it, embrace it and do a full-length narrative like 'Spinal Tap.'