How Luca Became the First Pixar Movie Made at Home

“There are a few tools that we have to go and tweak and enable the control,” the director says. “But it’s a little bit more about how we use them. For the style of our animation, for example, we didn’t have to reinvent the wheel. We just had to add a few possibilities and options and abilities, but I think it was really more like challenging ourselves to find different timings and vibes and energy.”

Citing a specific example, Casarosa continues, “We really had to learn how to record people from their homes. We thought that would be a problem. We thought that would be a huge loss in quality, but actually there’s enough technology that can clean it up. So that did not turn out to be a huge problem. But there were amusing things, like spending an hour with Maya Rudolph trying to figure out her iPad and not acting, but actually doing our own IT remotely.”

He adds, “But we realized—and it’s kind of amazing—that with an iPad and a microphone, and a little bit of work, you can do what we do at a state-of-the-art place like Pixar. That was really quite a journey, even if it was a little bit slower. Sometimes it felt like we were racing against the clock to be able to finish the movie… but now we know we can do this.”

Although it is a fable about friendship, told from the perspective of sea creatures who can shapeshift into human form while on dry land, much of Luca is immersed deeply in the natural beauty of the Italian Riviera and the rich culture and longstanding history of the small, sun-washed towns that nestle upon its shores and the hills. It’s somehow appropriate then that a film made under conditions of isolation, separation, and stress aims to transport viewers to an almost mythical yet still real slice of Italy.

“Even just the setting, we’re hoping, is wonderful,” says Warren when asked about releasing the movie into a world that’s tentatively emerging again. “That beautiful sense of getting to go somewhere that we all have been missing so much. We hope that it feels like being transported to this beautiful place that you would love to visit for real, but that you can visit through Luca. I think that’s one piece of it, that we’re hoping just to transport people out of our homes to feel like we went somewhere.”

Luca premieres exclusively on Disney+ on June 18.

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