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THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG

The Big Easy
"We really feel that the city is a major character in the movie,” says director Ron Clements. "We wanted to be true to this city and what's special about it.”

To capture the authenticity of the film's setting, the filmmakers made multiple trips to New Orleans to research the food, music, architecture, surrounding bayous and the people. They took more than 50,000 photos of local iconic images to use as reference and inspiration. "We visited these great mansions in the Garden District, since part of our story takes place there,” says Clements. "Our story also takes place near the ninth ward. We worked on a Habitat for Humanity project while we were down there.”

The filmmakers also explored the bayou, meeting a few of the swamp's animal residents; a trip to the New Orleans Audubon Zoo showcased additional creatures, including indigenous alligators, which inspired the film's trumpet-playing alligator, and spoon-billed birds, which influenced the birds in Mama Odie's gospel song "Dig a Little Deeper.”

The filmmakers soaked up as much of the city as possible, experiencing the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival—in the rain—as well as taking the Nanchez Riverboat tour to properly capture the riverboat scenes, and touring the streetcar system. Sound designer Oden Benitez even went to Jackson Square to record the sounds of the church bell and streetcar. Directors Musker and Clements, as well as producer Peter Del Vecho, were invited to participate in Mardi Gras aboard a float. "The climax of our film takes place in Mardi Gras,” says director John Musker. "So we were trying to get some of the vibe in terms of the float design and the ambiance.

"We got to experience the power of the beads,” Musker continues. "For those few moments when you're on that float holding those beads—it's like you're holding a fortune; everybody wants those beads.”

Adds Clements, "We got to experience being rock stars for 15 seconds at a time. The moment the float passed the people, they'd turn their attention to the next thing. Fame was so fleeting.” The research proved valuable as Disney artisans strived to capture the city's almost inexplicable magic. "New Orleans is a shockingly different place. It's just so different from anywhere else in America,” says art director Ian Gooding. "If you blindfolded someone and put them on a plane that landed in New Orleans, and they'd never been there, you could tell them they were in another country— and they'd probably believe you.”

The sense of otherworldliness within a distinctly American setting was a component of the filmmakers' approach to developing their New Orleans fairy tale. Within the geography and history of the region were all of the elements they required, and the real places themselves inspired the storytelling.

"This movie is challenging in that it has such different environments. You have the French Quarter, and the wild, colorful Mardi Gras, and the polished sophistication of the Garden District—and then you have the Bayou.” ~Maria Gonzales, Color Supervisor

The Garden District

As the residential setting for the ostensible "royal family” in this American fairy tale, the filmmakers found a locale that evoked the ideas of luxury, solidity and tradition of a majestic castle. The Garden District was the first suburban neighborhood of New Orleans. Developed from 1832 to about 1900, the Garden District evokes the stately homes and mansions of the wealthy newcomers who built opulent homes to reflect their prosperity—and that of New

Orleans during the era.

The filmmakers faced the challenge of taking a very ordered, architectural, real-world inspiration and making it into a lush and nostalgic fairy-tale realm. Additionally, the human environs had to seamlessly co-exist with the extreme naturalism of an u

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