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About The Production
Surf's Up is a fresh, fun animated comedy that immerses audiences in the competitive world of surfing penguins. For producer Christopher Jenkins, that hilarious starting point led to a breakthrough in how to present the story of up-and- coming surfer Cody Maverick. "The notion of surfing penguins really got me thinking. What if, instead of being a straightforward fantasy narrative, Surf's Up went into the world of animation with a hypothetically authentic camera, as if it were taping live interviews and ostensibly no script?” says Jenkins. "What would these surfing penguins tell us if they were given a chance? From there it was a short step to realizing the potential of this coupling – the imagination of animation paired with the realism and immediacy of today's real-life video.”

Directors Ash Brannon (co-director of Toy Story 2) and Chris Buck (director of Tarzan) quickly realized the cleverness in the idea: relying on the conventions and style of reality television and documentary filmmaking, Surf's Up would have an immediacy and relevance that set it apart from the pack. Using that technique, the directors brought into focus the characters, story, and art direction – the heart of the film.

That intimate cinematic style perfectly supported the story that developed from the inspiring concept of surfing penguins devised by veteran animation executives Sandra Rabins and Penney Finkelman Cox.

At the center of the story, the filmmakers placed the relationship between Cody, a young, up-and-coming surfer who thinks that becoming a champion will bring him the respect he feels he deserves, and Big Z, the onetime legendary surfer who everybody thinks has passed on, but in fact has been living alone as a hermit for the past decade. "Having lost his father, Cody is clearly looking for a father figure, and the legend of Big Z had filled that void; because Z was a champion, that's what Cody thought he wanted to be, too. But when Cody enters Z's life, Z is forced to come to terms with his past and face life as a champion whose glory days are over,” says director Ash Brannon. "When Cody finds out that Z is still alive, they naturally fall into those father-son roles – the good and the challenging – and both realize that nothing could matter less than a trophy. It's their passion for being out on the waves that counts most.”

To absorb audiences into Cody's world, every detail had to be appropriate to the experience. "One of our main goals was to take the viewer to a tropical location,” said director Chris Buck. "We wanted to recreate that feeling you get when you step off the plane in a place like Tahiti or Hawaii, and you're hit by that amazing scent and air and even by how different the light is. You really know that you're somewhere special.”

An ensemble of talented actors form the voice cast of Surf's Up. Leading the way is Shia LaBeouf, who takes on the role of Cody Maverick. He is joined by fourtime Academy Award® nominee Jeff Bridges, playing Big Z; Zooey Deschanel as Lani; Jon Heder as Chicken Joe; James Woods as Reggie; Mario Cantone as Mikey; and Diedrich Bader as Tank.

Because of the behind-the-scenes nature of the film, it was necessary that the characters speak in a natural way – including improvised and overlapping dialogue. In a typical animation voiceover session, actors are alone in the booth as they record their characters' lines. This allows the animators, editors and sound designers more flexibility in splicing together different performances. For Surf's Up, the filmmakers made the highly unconventional choice to record many scenes with several actors in the booth at once. "A performance is completely different when you have the other actors there in the room with you – you get a sense of what they're doing and react to each other in a natural way,” says LaBeouf. "For<

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