Jamaican helps bring latest Disney classic to life

November 21, 2016
Contributed A screenshot of one of the movie's posters
FILE Ian Gooding
Actor Dwayne Johnson (Maui) and Auli'i Cravalho (who voices Moana) arrive at the 2016 AFI Fest where they attended the movie's world premiere at El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles recently. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)

When the animated film 'Moana' opens in Carib cinemas on Wednesday, it will have a Jamaican fingerprint on it.

Ian Gooding is production designer for the film. It tells the tale of an adventurous teenager who sails out on a daring mission to save her people. Gooding is very excited about the film.

"It's about a 16-year-old girl named Moana who is chosen by the Pacific Ocean, (the ocean is an actual character in the movie). It takes place 2,000 years ago ... in the South Pacific, before the time of the missionaries and Captain Cook," he said.

"We're trying to present those people as they were before that." Gooding said researching the film was very rewarding as he learned the people of the region were excellent navigators, crossing the largest ocean in the world, and at times not seeing land for months.

"They were just an amazing group of people and historically there were a 1,000 years when they stopped travelling and our movie starts just at the end of that, and sort of poses the reason why they had stopped and why they started again," he explained.

Gooding has worked on some of Hollywood's bigger animated films. He was art director for Disney's first fully digital film Chicken Little.

He worked on visual development for Pocahontas (1995), Tarzan (1999) and Dinosaur (2000). In 2012, he was art director for Wreck-It Ralph.

Gooding began his work at Disney as an effects assistant working on The Prince and the Pauper.

In 1992, he was visual effects supervisor on the television series Family Dog. His small screen work includes the series versions of Hercules and Mulan, where he was background artist.

He admits he really wanted to get into live-action video effects rather than animation, but thinks it was a much better choice for him eventually.

"Most of the times it's been amazing. I've been there (Disney) for 26 years now. You never really know how good you are doing something until you go to a big place like this, try your best and see what happens," he said.

When asked why Jamaicans should see Moana, Gooding said he thought it was an inspiring tale.

"I think it's a really interesting look at a really amazing culture that accomplished a lot of incredible stuff, back in a time when most of the world was sort of in darkness," he said.

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