The Red Carpet World Premiere of The Jungle Book brought together the creative talent, celebrities and fans together into one magical space. The celebration was bursting with festivities and colorful personalities who adorned the Red Carpet of the El Capitan Theatre that night.
With popcorn-filled commemorative buckets, writers, producers, actors and actresses and their families filled the classic seats of the Grandeur El Capitan to sink into the magical world of the jungle and indulge in the color, music, and imaginative interpretation of Rudyard Kipling’s story by yet another super-gifted story-teller Director Jon Favreau.
We had a rare occasion to have Director Jon Favreau and young actor Neel Sethie, who plays Mowgli in the movie, for a sit-down conversation about how this movie was conceived and, then, made into a living, breathing organism that consumes a movie-goer from the very beginning until the last titles disappear into the junglesome abyss.
Here are some interesting moments from a long conversation that highlight the epic journey and the spirit of creativity and total dedication of these two amazing professionals.
A Few Thoughts About A FAMILY
Neel Sethie has the love and support of his entire family.
Here’s a curiosity fact that you may want to know. All young actors who haven’t graduated from school have a huge entourage supporting them during their creative process of making a movie. At least one family member, a teacher, a PR person accompany them to all the press junkets and publicity events, and also stay with them during filming.
The dedication to what their children are doing is unprecedented. Genuine pride and love for their kids shows every moment you see these families. They are open to answer your questions and more than willing to share their personal experiences of the movie-making journey their child has been going through.
It is of importance to highlight such strong and unconditional love and dedication for their children to succeed in the career of their choice. Neel Sethi’s family, whom we met in their entirity, is one of the examples what a family can do for their children, and how important the familial support is.
Jon Favreau mentioned many times his wife and how patient and very respectful of the creative process she is when he works on a project.
And as a matter of fact, there was one of the songs that wasn’t in the earlier version. My wife will never, while I’m working on the project, very, very rarely goes against what I’m doing, because she knows that I’m as a Film Maker, you’re facing a lot of different opinions and things. And when you go home, it’s nice to have support and enthusiasm and you know, confidence that you’ll figure it out and work it out.
What Impressed Me About Neel Sethie,
the Voice of MOWGLI
When you see Neel Sethi – you can’t but smile. This is a natural response to this joy-filled boy who plays Mowgli in The Jungle Book.
He comes from a family of dentists who, from his childhood, instilled in him the love and respect for life and the process of “getting there.” Tenacity is what counts when you are on the path to the dream of your imagination.
Neel comes across as a happy tween boy who is fond of all things non-acting boys do. What puts him into the category of unique is his ability to transfer the normalcy of his life here, in this modern society, into the life in the jungle.
To share a behind-the-scenes fact with you – all scenes that you will see in the movie were shot far, far away from the real jungle. The whole movie was filmed in the LA studios!
The Magic The Jungle Book Creates On The Screen Is Two-Fold
First, the talent and genuine gift of Neel Sethi to open up and reflect his imaginary world to the outside world of those who will watch the movie. All scenes were acted out in front of the green screen with a few props that still had to be imagined to be alive and living and breathing.
For a little boy to fill the shoes of such gargantuous enormity is no less than moving a mountain. And Neel has done it with the ingenuity and playfulness of a 10-year-old boy. Here’s his reaction when asked if it was difficult to act all by himself.
I just made it natural; that if this was a puppet like I would just make it normal that it’s not a puppet. It’s like a Bear or a Panther. I just made that in my head and made sure, Oh, that’s not a Puppet. That’s Ballou. Hi Ballou. And then instead of seeing a Puppet, I would see this like or something like that. That made it a lot easier, and sometimes they made the puppets look like Ballou. That helped a lot. Jon actually got into the puppet sometimes, and that helped me interact with him.
Second, the stupendous technology of visual and sound effects that brought into life all things JUNGLE. The animals, the plants, Nature’s storms, rivers, mountains and desserts – all that was recreated in a studio and formatted to the extend of bringing human visual and hearing senses to the level of AWE. Jon Favreau at first didn’t believe that they could make a movie in one studio. But when they took a look at “Avatar” and “Life of Pi,” their creative juices started pouring onto the writing board.
It got me thinking, we could create our own complete environment [in the movie], and if you do that, I could do something similar to what I was thinking about for Magic Kingdom: if Disney had a Castle this big, make the Castle this big, if the branches of trees in this Movie in real life were this big or a Panther is this big, make him as big as he was in the Cartoon. Make him bigger, play with scale.
Always keep it photo real, but you could give it a dream-like quality, so you see the whole thing through kid’s eyes. And so it was their enthusiasm, and their commitment to doing this. And honestly, the confidence they had with the success of the other live action adaptations that made me realize that they [Disney] were an enthusiastic Partner.
And when you’re making a Movie, that’s huge, because they’re not fighting you over every little decision. There’s a relaxed comfort that comes with that: as an Artist, you really want that kind of support.
With the Dolby Sound and Dolby Visual technology, all these effects are amplified ten-fold and bring us into the living, breathing magic of the jungle. The feeling is so real, so goose-bumpy, that I shall forever treasure this movie-going experience.
Why Jon Favreau Is A Leading-Edge
Creative Director In Hollywood
Directing is not something that anybody can do. From my humble point of view, a person gotta have that gift, the eye for the things that make each project and each movie unique in every sense.
The director’s role is to ORGANIZE the entire ensemble of thoughts and people and to LEAD them with his/her creative “eye” to the point of individual self-expression and interpretation of each scene that is being shot at the moment. Jon Favreau is one of the gifted individuals who has that “eye” for making a movie with fresh and unique perspectives. The musical score in the movie will blow your imagination away. It seeps deep into your soul and evokes feelings and emotions that take you to the level of living inside the movie.