It’s a Jungle out there: A Conversation with Carlos Saldanha for the Home Entertainment release of Rio 2
It’s a jungle out there for Blu, Jewel and their three kids in RIO 2, after they venture from that magical city into the wilds of the Amazon for a family reunion. Out of his element in a land he doesn't know, Blu must face his most fearsome adversary - his father in law - while evading Nigel's fiendish plans for revenge. All your favorite RIO characters are back, and they’re joined by Oscar® nominee Andy Garcia, Grammy® winner Bruno Mars, Tony® winner Kristin Chenoweth and Oscar/Emmy®/Tony winner Rita Moreno. RIO 2 also features new Brazilian artists and original music by Janelle Monae and Wondaland.
Carlos Saldanha is a Brazilian director of animated films who works with Blue Sky Studios. He directed Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006), Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009), Rio (2011), and was the co-director of Ice Age (2002) and Robots (2005). His latest film is Rio 2, in which his memorable heroes head out into the Amazon jungle…
When did you know that you would make another Rio movie?
The idea came very soon after the first movie. Nowadays, when you decide to do a sequel you have to make them fairly fast. I didn’t want to think about it while making the first one, but the minute the movie came out and was a success I was already prepared for them to pop the question. And sure enough I was asked and I was lucky enough to have already a story in my head. I pitched it and they liked it. The biggest challenge was that I had to write the script and execute the movie so that it was ready before the World Cup!
Does making a sequel give you the chance to shoot things that you wanted to include the first movie but couldn’t?
Yes and the soccer scene is the clearest example, something that I wanted to do in the first movie but wasn’t able to, because I didn’t plan ahead with the story and therefore couldn’t find a natural spot. I consciously put the soccer scene in this movie. It was one of the first set pieces I had in my head and when I wrote it I had to make sure that I wrote around it as well.
Were you always going to set the film in the Amazon jungle?
I had a huge curiosity about the Amazon. Even though I am from Brazil and grew up there, I had never been to the Amazon. For us, the Amazon is far away. If you live in London it’s like you have to go to Moscow, which is quite a trek. But since I was a kid I have always had a fascination with it. I have always been into environmental things and am an animal lover. So when I was thinking about where to take [lead characters] Blu and Jewel, I thought the Amazon might be a cool place. I entertained the idea of going to another city but I thought it might look similar to Rio in some aspect and that I’d be doing the same movie. The music would be comparable. But the Amazon would be different from that and I could introduce new sounds and rhythms. I didn’t have to be bound by a region.
The Amazon must be a treasure-trove when you’re looking for new sounds and rhythms?
We explored a lot of birds in the first movie and in this one we do explore a lot of birds, but it’s more about the same kinds of birds, because Blu and Jewel find more of their kind. It allowed me to put in lots of other animals though, like anteaters and poisonous frogs, and sloths. It was fun to do that.
Did you head off into the jungle yourself for research purposes?
I did. I did! The first thing I thought about was going to the jungle. I booked a trip. I went with my kids, telling them we’d have a jungle adventure. Everyone was terrified, worrying about bugs and piranhas and alligators and stuff like that. But we were all surprised because it was one of the best trips we’ve made as a family. We had the best time. We didn’t expect it to be so daunting and so vast. It is like coming from the country and going to the big city for the first time, but when you’re from the city going to the jungle it’s even more extreme!
RIO 2 IS OUT NOW ON BLU-RAY AND DVD