When I was invited to view the film HOME and attend a press junket with the creatives involved that included Jim Parsons, Rihanna, Steve Martin & Director Tim Johnson, I was thrilled. Such talent – such creativity – such legends. First I had to see the film to see for myself.
So, on a late Monday afternoon, I ventured into the city for a screening of the film. The film is about Oh, a misfit from another planet who lands on earth and finds himself on the run from his own people. He forms an unlikely friendship with an adventurous girl named Tip who is on a quest of her own. Through a series of comic adventures together, they both come to understand that being different and making mistakes is all part of being human. There are some great messages being relayed to the audiences watching, particularly children about being different, fitting in, nonformity. I knew the conversation with the group would be cosmic..and it was. A long time fan of several on the panel, particularly Steve Martin, who I have grown up with and followed my whole life, and Jim Parsons from the wonderful Big Bang Theory and The Normal Heart, which I saw on Broadway last year, and Rihanna for so many reasons- what can I say? There would be no other word to describe being in the room with them other than COSMIC.
Here are some of my favorite comments from the press conference – about everything from girlpower to feeling left out as a kid to the new technology to make the film.
On working alone in a sound booth without anyone to work off:
Steve Martin: I was delighted to finally work alone. I didn’t have to put up with those hacks like Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin and Marty Short. It was just me.
On creating a powerful female character:
Rihanna: I think it was both important to me and DreamWorks Animation for this to be as realistic as possible. We wanted little girls to feel empowered, little girls of any size, shape, color, race. It didn’t matter. We wanted girls to just feel strong and brave and empowered and beautiful and like they can do anything. And they can take charge of their life or their situation no matter what. I think we were really, really careful, especially with the animation and making sure that she wore the right things, that her body was not unrealistic, you know? And I think for kids, that’s going to be very special, for young girls especially.
On lessons learned from the film:
Rihanna: I’m really inspired by Tip’s strength and determination because, you know, even in real life, there are those moments where you start to doubt yourself or you start to really feel like it’s not the right thing and going on the wrong direction. And you don’t know. Like, you start to lose hope. And you are right. This movie did kind of bring that back for me.
Martin: And I want to be more like Captain Smek, shallow and arrogant.
Jim Parsons: Oh has his own selection of them too, this optimism and eagerness and friendliness and hopefulness, that I don’t carry with me as in abundance and as much of the time as he does. And there’s not a good reason for–I mean, life gets in the way.
On working with Apollo, the new technology used to make the film:
Tim Johnson: The biggest thing I could do is I could bring the camera closer to the characters. And with voice performances like this, the classic film close-up is something animation didn’t usually do. An animation close-up would go from the middle of your chest over your head. But, a film would go in very tight. But, it used to kind of break down when you’d go that close on an animated face. And it would look kind of, frankly, a little bit like plastic. This new technology, we could go right up to Tip, right up to Captain Smek, right up to Oh. And the animators were able, by the tiniest squint of their eye or the little, little tiny glint in a smile. You would get so much more subtlety. And so, it was very empowering as a director to be able to do what I think audiences loved, get very intimate with the characters.
On the soundtrack:
Rihanna: There are seven full songs right now on the soundtrack. And it’s not just me on the album. We worked with a few other artists and collaborated with some people and some producers and scores. I mean even throughout the movie, the soundtrack, there is a lot of music from the soundtrack in the movie. Tim worked with some amazing, talented string players that really helped to score the film and tie all the emotions together, kind of just give the vibe or the energy, just to build the atmosphere of what you’re supposed to feel in that moment.
Johnson: Rihanna and a couple of producers, song writers, she’s had a long partnership with Stargate. We started working on music three years ago when we cast her as the voice.
On comparing acting in a animated feature to writing a play and using improvisation:
Martin: With a play, you get to try it out and maybe take it out of town, rewrite it, and rework it. And even during the run, during the previews, you can make changes. And it’s very much like that in an animated film because you could actually do a scene, animate it, try it out, and see if you like it. And if not, change it, unlike a film, which is a very hard thing to do.
Parsons: It’s funny. I know Steve was a bigger part of adding things to his dialogue and stuff than either of us were. I mean I never improv’ed, other than the “Boov Death Song”. I think there’s reason. I think Steve’s better at that than me, maybe not you, but me.
On giving advice to children who have been picked on or feel like insiders:
Rihanna: I have felt like an outsider ever since my first day at school. I mean I think that’s really it. Like, you’re at home. And you know, it’s the whole–not to go there, but really when you’re at home, you have this sense of comfort. You belong. It’s familiar. It is you. And not until you leave your home and you have to be in another environment supervised by completely different people and around different children who come from different homes, and you’re immediately exposed to all these type of things because just as strange as they are to you, you are to them. And it can be hurtful. It comes off hurtful for children. But, really, they’re trying to understand each other, or they really don’t understand each other because they come from a completely different background or culture. And it really is just about being who you are no matter what. Like, you just have to understand everybody’s not going to be like you, even in those horrible situations.
Parsons: I think that’s beautifully put. And I think that it speaks to why everybody in the movie is in to a degree, but specifically Tip and Oh are in is such a universal feeling. I love what you just said about you at one point leave your home, where you’re like everything’s natural and normal here. I can do nothing that’s weird.
We’re normal here. And as soon as you leave, everybody’s going to run into a situation where it’s like that’s not acceptable here. Okay. Okay. You know? So, to varying degrees, there are harder times to get through or not.
But, I think, too, what you say is exactly the truth. There’s only really one choice to get through that. And it’s to stay true to yourself and know that there are people who, if you’re running into people who think you’re a real weirdo right now and seem to judge you, there’s plenty of those who aren’t.
And eventually, that’s going to be your money maker, frankly. Embrace your freak.
Martin: At 12 or 13, I felt like an outsider at school. And then this new usage of a word came in, which was nonconformist. And you were lauded if you were a nonconformist. I thought I’m not an outsider. I’m a nonconformist. So, I was feeling pretty good at that point. I still had no friends. But, I was a nonconformist with no friends.
The actors found a lot of common ground with their characters, and after having spent very little time with each other producing HOME, the bond that was formed appeared strong and their banter seemed effortless.
Excited about HOME? Here’s how to stay connected:
– Follow DreamWorks Animation on Twitter
– Like ‘HOME’ on Facebook
– Visit the Official Website
– Get to know The Boov’s at Meet the Boov!
To celebrate the release of HOME, I’m thrilled to be giving away a $25 Visa gift card to inspire your next movie outing and HOME earbuds.
The movie takes place in various parts of the world. To win, just comment below and tell me what place your consider your home away from home.
For an additional entry, tweet this:
I entered to win a $25 @Visa card to celebrate #DreamworksHome via @hollychronicles! http://bit.ly/1Ex9Dd4
Disclosure: I was not compensated to write this post but received complimentary tickets to facilitate the review. Giveaway is courtesy of Dreamworks. Open to U.S. mailing addresses only. Winner will be chosen Monday, March 23rd at 6:00pm.
Disclosure: I was not compensated to write this post but was invited to the screening and press event by the folks at Dreamworks.