Walt Disney Animation Studios goes back to Arendelle this holiday season, unwrapping “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure,” an all-new 21-minute featurette. With four new original songs, the featurette welcomes back to the big screen the characters that audiences fell in love with in 2013’s Oscar®-winning feature “Frozen.”
Directed by Stevie Wermers-Skelton and Kevin Deters, the team behind the Emmy®-winning television special “Prep & Landing,” the featurette kicks off about six months after the feature concludes. “Olaf is still brand new to the world,” says Wermers-Skelton. “And Anna and Elsa only recently reunited after being separated for most of their lives. We wondered how they might approach their first holiday together.”
“Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” welcomes the original cast and characters back to Arendelle, including Olaf, voiced by Josh Gad; Anna, voiced by Kristen Bell; Elsa, voiced by Idina Menzel and Kristoff, voiced by Jonathan Groff.
We recently had the opportunity to attend a special sneak peek of the featurette at the Walt Disney Animation Studios, heard from the filmmakers as well as Josh Gad. Also as a special treat, songwriters Elyssa Samsel and Kate Anderson performed “When We’re Together” live during a special Holiday reception. (Video of the full song below)
Olaf still likes warm hugs. “Olaf is pure joy and innocence,” says Josh Gad, who returns as the voice of the lovable snowman. “He has a childlike wonderment to him that prevents him from passing judgement or being critical. His naïveté is a gift and a rarity.”
We all have family traditions during the holidays, so the theme is really relatable. But in this short, Anna and Elsa never have had the chance to create any traditions of their own, which casts a shadow on what they thought would be a huge holiday celebration.
Olaf teams up with Sven on a merry mission to comb the kingdom to bring home the best traditions to save this first Christmas for his friends. “But it turns out, traditions are personal,” says Deters. “What one family treasures might seem completely bizarre to another. So Olaf just grabs everything he can. He’ll do anything for his friends.”
While there was plenty of snow and ice in the 2013 feature, it was all at the hands of Elsa, which called for a magical touch that was often very dramatic. “We had some severe winter weather in the feature,” says production designer Mike Giaimo. “This is the first time we could create a beautiful picture-postcard holiday winter scene in Arendelle. Elsa’s ice is still there, but we had an opportunity to make it romantic.”
According to Giaimo, “‘Frozen’ has a very elegant style, particularly the color palette. For ‘Olaf’s Frozen Adventure,’ we wanted to embrace the holiday, which calls for lots of celebratory colors—we had to push the palette to be a little louder.”
“Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” is told through the eyes of Olaf himself as he endeavors to save Christmas for his friends. “While ‘Frozen’ is technically set in summertime, the featurette takes place in the winter as the holiday season gets underway,” says director Kevin Deters. “It just made sense to let Olaf take the lead: he’s made of snow, after all, and his childlike personality reflects the wonder of the season.”
Josh Gad channeled his own children to bring Olaf to life. “My 3-year-old will say whatever she wants with no filter,” he says. “It’s so pure and wonderful.” As the central character, Olaf is carrying much of the featurette’s emotional load. He’s known as enthusiastic and cheerful as well as his personality and shows more depth, a place that the audience hasn’t seen yet.
Olaf’s story is told—at least in part—with music. Filmmakers called on songwriters Elyssa Samsel and Kate Anderson to write new songs for the featurette that fit within the world of the feature, while reaching exploring uncharted territory. Kate and Elyssa have such a sense of fun and enthusiasm, the songs really capture the spirit of Olaf and his holiday endeavor.
“Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” opens for a limited time in front of Disney•Pixar’s original feature “Coco” in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2017.
Below are a few photos from the reception that was held at Walt Disney Animation Studios.
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