Hey, Frozen fans, have you ever wondered how Olaf got a carrot for a nose? Or why he loves summer so much? Or where did the wolves that were chasing Anna and Kristoff come from? Well, if you have then you won’t want to miss Once Upon A Snowman, the new Disney+ short film that will answer all those questions and more when it premieres on October 23rd.
The new short is set during the events of the first Frozen movie, specifically in the moments after Elsa creates Olaf while singing “Let it Go,” and leading up to when Anna and Kristoff meet the summer-loving snowman. So, the movie basically acts as a companion piece to the original film, telling the off-screen adventures of Olaf, once again voiced by Josh Gad.
We Live Entertainment recently participated in a virtual press conference for Once Upon A Snowman that included co-writers and directors Dan Abraham and Trent Correy, animator Becky Bresee, and Academy Award-winning Frozen producer Peter Del Vecho.
Co-writer and co-director Trent Correy began the conference by discussing the origins of this project. “My very first film at Disney was the original Frozen where I got to meet Becky and Peter, and later I met Dan,” he explained. “I started as a crowd animator during the first Frozen and my very first character to animate was Olaf. I was very lucky to get to animate Olaf for the rest of the show as a trainee and I very clearly remember seeing that shot during ‘Let It Go,’ where Elsa meets Olaf, and then she just walks away. She creates life and she walks away, and I was like, there’s got to be a story there.”
“I wanted to see what Olaf’s first steps were because we didn’t see him for another twenty minutes after he first appears in the movie,” Correy continued. “I actually found sketches last week of original ideas from 2013 of Olaf taking his first steps and learning about who he is. Cut to last year, Jennifer Lee, our fearless leader, stood on stage and said, ‘We’re going to be partnering with Disney+,’ and I thought right then that this is the perfect opportunity to have this short come out eight years later. That’s when I got to work with all these fine folks, Peter, Becky, and Dan.”
Co-writer and co-director Dan Abraham talked about how he got involved with the project, and why he thinks Olaf is such a beloved character. “Jennifer asked if I would partner with Trent and direct this great idea that he had all these years ago,” he explained. “And so, the two of us just kind of went arm-in-arm from there and we had a ball. But I would say that Olaf has this overwhelming optimism and sincerity about him,” Abraham continued. “And that just never gets old. It’s something that we all sort of aspire to and sometimes fall short of. But Olaf is always there charging ahead with just this eternal optimism and sweetness that I think is a part of all of us, but maybe we wish we had more of. It’s sort of aspiring.”
Once Upon A Snowman went into production just as Frozen II was being finished, and producer Peter Del Vecho discussed making the two movies back-to-back. “When you make these movies, you get to know these characters really well. It becomes a family. As hard as the movies are to finish, it’s also hard to step away,” he said. “So, I think the fact that Trent and Dan had this story ready to go, we could build on that enthusiasm of having finished the last movie and bring all that skill and the momentum that we had as you finish a movie and bring that right into the short. I think it was a nice way almost to celebrate and continue to celebrate finishing the sequel.”
Animator Becky Bresee, who worked on both Frozen and Frozen II, talked about her return to the world of Frozen with this short, and her favorite scene to animate. “To continue on with this story, that’s very special and ties everything together from those first moments of Olaf’s life. One of my favorite aspects of this project was when I got to animate the moment where Olaf walks over the hill approaching Anna and Kristoff. When I was animating it, I realized it was the moment right before he walks into Kristoff and Anna’s life and changes them forever, and changes all of us forever, really. So, I think it was very special to me.”
But of course, there would be no Olaf without Josh Gad, and Correy talked about working with the actor and comedian on this project. “Josh, he is just as funny in the movie and on his Instagram and social media as he is in person,” the director said. “He is hilarious. In fact, Dan and I were in the recording booth with him, not behind glass. I think the hardest part about that was just trying not to laugh so we didn’t mess up the take. I was covering my mouth most of the time, while Josh was just having a blast. But he is so generous with his time. He came in right after Frozen II to record this with us. He gives you so much as an actor and a comedian. I just love working with him.”
Finally, Del Vecho was asked the most obvious question, will there be a Frozen III? “I think we’re just happy with this short and to have its debut in Disney+,” the producer answered. “But we do get asked that question a lot. I mean, clearly, there’s a real passion for the stories, for the sisters, and for the whole family. So, right now we’re focused on other things, but we still love these characters.”