1) The team logged tens of thousands of miles in research
In order to know where you’re going, you need to know where you come from.” It was a sentiment the people of the South Pacific impressed upon the filmmakers and is also echoed in Disney culture itself. Research and preparation are everything.
2) Filmmakers hired a council of experts to fact-check everything
“In Tahiti, one of the elders said ‘We’ve been swallowed by your culture. One time, can you be swallowed by our culture?’” explained Clements. “We took that very seriously.” To make sure their film was bound to history and culture, the filmmakers recruited a team of local experts nicknamed “The Oceanic Story Trust.”
3) Moana’s story was born out of a historic mystery
Moana is set 2,000 years ago. At that time in actual history, the people of the South Pacific were the greatest explorers on Earth. Using only stars and currents, they accomplished some of the greatest feats of exploration and migration in history. Then, one day, it stopped for 1,000 years. No one knows why.
4) The ocean is its own character in the film
The hero of the story is Moana, a young girl voiced by newcomer Auli’i Cravalho. We meet Moana as a young child, where her sense of adventure instantly makes her an ally and friend of the ocean, which is literally a character in the film. It plays with her, interacts with her, cradles her, becomes familiar shapes and helps her as she grows into a teenager and sets off on her journey.