Under the envelopes, the first original Disney Channel film, launched a legacy of decades of family-friendly films. More than twenty years later, Disney is remaking its first original film with a new audience in mind. 2021 Under the envelopes will update the 1997 classic with a modern feel. However, his story will always focus on three friends who find their strength while helping “Harold”, an awakened mummy, find his one true love before he collapses into nothingness.
Before the film’s premiere in October, Under the envelopes director Alex Zamm sat down with CBR for an exclusive interview. Zamm explained how he tapped into classic silent comedy to create the character of Hiccup and shared the fun of making a monster movie where the monster is a hero.
CBR: You have a lot of experience working with Disney as a studio, but the Disney Channel Original Movies banner has a real story that you help keep alive. What does it mean for you as a filmmaker to take the helm of the new? Under the envelopes?
Alex Zamm: Well, I love the original movie. I felt this enormous honor, privilege and responsibility to make this film really well because I loved it. I wanted to bring it to a new generation, with the same spirit as the first. Fun, playful, kids on an amazing supernatural adventure, meeting and befriending the ultimate monster, and helping to protect it. So I think all the DNA we kept the same, and part of the icing on the cake, we dressed a little different in places.
I agree, the DNA of the film is very consistent with the original film, but there are a number of small tweaks that really bring the story back to the present. What was it like, updating the set dressing while keeping the spirit of the original film intact?
There are always a lot of give and take where you analyze what the first movie was and ask yourself, “What was the point of the streak?” Harold is a fish out of water in the New World. They dressed him in the first movie with this wonderful streak where he goes to fast food and ends up in the hospital. It was there for this dramatic purpose.
Ours was, “Okay, he’s a fish out of water when he walks down the street and sees… Everyone reacts to him in a different way.” I wanted to give it more transmission momentum. For mine, I said, “Okay. I want to see what he’s looking for.” He is trying to find the love of his life, from which he has been separated. So that gave us the thing, “Oh, we’ll put the picture of the princess in the back of the bus, then its wrappers will be hung up, and then it will be dragged into town.” But now, he finds himself in front of the museum. So he finds the princess. So that helps. We tried to play with the mystery, and not just the kids chasing the mystery of what happened to Hiccup, but, “Why did he come back to life? How long is he? Who’s after him? ? ” We wanted to donate the Harold agency.
The actor who portrays Harold, Phil Wright, does a great job – given that all of his dialogue and emotional moments have to be entirely physical or in minor growls. What was it like to work with?
The first film had a wonderful actor playing Harold, Bill Fagerbakke. In this one, we had Phil, who is a world class dancer and choreographer. And we would have been remiss if we hadn’t accepted what he, as an actor, brings to the party. And so having Harold able to dance … It’s a place where he finally fits into the world. He’s finally becoming the life of the party and it was a good thing to embrace this actor’s talents to give our film a unique twist.
It’s another whole conversation about building Harold’s character to communicate so many emotions through grunts, facial expressions, body movements. It was a great challenge. We spent a lot of time together in a dance studio watching Buster Keaton, watching Lucille Ball and really studying the emotionality that you can get with just physicality and really looking at what Phil brought in. terms of dance experience, and now move it into an acting experience. That was, for me, the most important part of the film – making a mummy that had a spectrum of human emotions, without dialogue.
While Hiccup might be the real supernatural force, the film gets a sometimes genuinely menacing antagonist in the form of the thief who stole Hiccup in the first place. Where does this element come from?
We wanted to have the movie, as a Halloween movie, we wanted to give you some scary moments… In particular, I think it’s scary when they find Hiccup in the basement, and he comes back to life and he pursues them. It was meant to be [scary]. We wanted your heart to race, and we were hoping you were going to snuggle up to the person you’re sitting next to on the couch. But the intention was never to terrify someone or send them back to sleep in their parents’ bed.
But rather, we had to respond to a dramatic point, which for me is why I really wanted to get involved … I loved a monster movie in which the monster is the protagonist. Normally it’s about stopping the monster and killing the monster, and it’s about Pandora’s box. You let something out. It was different. It’s closer to Iron giant Where HEY, in that the monster is actually something you fear at first and then you find out that he is really vulnerable, sweet, kind, amazing, and your best friend. So to win that good role, we had to start somewhere else, which is you play the normal audience reaction like, “I don’t want to run into a monster.”
I hope people are properly scared and then start to say, “I like this guy. Especially when he can dance.”
Under Wraps, directed by Alex Zamm, will premiere Friday, October 1 at 8 p.m. ET / PT on Disney Channel and Friday, October 8 on Disney +.
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