Loving Moominmama: A Conversation with Xavier Picard
Moomins On The Riviera, features the entire Moomin clan as they embark on a hilarious adventure on the glamorous Riviera. After a journey fraught with menacing storms and desert island dangers, Snorkmaiden is dazzled by the attentions of a playboy and Moomin learns that jealousy’s sting is the most painful of all.
The Fan Carpet’s Marc Jason Ali in association with Lydia Kay of Acting Hour had the pleasure of talking to Xavier Picard for the release of Moomins On The Riviera, he tells us about his first interaction with the Moomins, his love for Moominmama and his hopes for the future of the Moomins…
What was it about the Moomins that made you decide to bring them to the big screen?
Oh, you know I met with the Producer and we made the decision five years ago because the Moomins characters the company owner of the right Moomins decided to call people and we competed to have the Moomins movie because for me it is one of the best comic strips I have ever read so I wanted absolutely to do a movie of Moomins.
And to convince Sophia Jansson, we produced a two minutes trailer, and we were in need of direction and the shooting I wanted to do for this movie. And from that Moomins character gain the green light for the movie and it became a long story.
Brilliant. So you are a fan the original Moomins?
Yes I am a fan of the original Moomins, I started out with comic strip. I discovered the Moomins not in France because, I’m sorry to say, we don’t know of the Moomins in France, I discovered the Moomins in Japan around 25 years ago, I had the chance to work with Japanese people animation and I discovered Groke from the Moomins and Japanese folk and then I found them in England and it was quite a discovery for me.
Brilliant. And so going back to the film, how important was it for you to stay true to the original animation and story style?
In fact I wanted to respect the original story. Sophia Jansson wanted it to come absolutely from the comic strip. I loved the comic strip so for me it was not easy to do from the comic strip, except from the comic strip, called “Moomins of the Riviera” because Tove Jansson work and design those comic strips and she was a very nice person, and it was an actual pleasure to meet her and I love the story, I love the characters, so for me the group start from this point and then, of course, go to the Moomin Valley.
And with that in mind, do you think it can still relate to the older generation that grew up with the Moomins and accessible enough to engage the younger audience?
I am sure the Moomins are for all generations, for all audience, that for the movie, most definitely, you have a look on the poster, the Moomins they look very much for young audience, they are beautiful.
So it meant for me that was visually good for young audience and for animation too. Animated movies are done for young audience, that should convince that the story and title is for everyone, maybe sometime especially for adults.
And do you have a favourite Moomins characters?
Yes, my favourite Moomin character is Moominmama because I love this woman with her British humour. She is in charge of the family but she does not put too much pressure on the members of the family but she gives a lot of training to everyone and other than Moominmama, my other favourite character is Little My because she’s not from the Moomins family but she’s so funny; she is always saying some things very crucial for the story and, fancy character. So I like it, I like her too.
And of course in the film, Moominmama is actually voiced by our very own Tracy Ann Oberman and we were just talking about the casting of her and what she bought?
Tracy, yes Tracy Ann, brought a lot of warmth to the character and she was absolutely fantastic to work with, and working with all the actors in the UK, London it was fantastic because they were able to do the voices directly because we already had the image, so they had to speak with their voices to the drawings of the characters.
What was the inspiration behind the new Riviera story and was it intended to have a strong moral sub text or was that a happy accident?
Papamoomin, Moominpapa and Snorkmaiden they loved this life and they love to have party and to have drink and to make some house for private People and movie star and little Moomin and Moominmama would prefer to go back to a small boat on the beach. So all the characters have a choice to do something, and for me it was very interesting to do that even to remember Marquis Mongaga. Mongaga is rich character separately, he loves to do sculpture only, Elephant sculptures, which I find funny, he decided to go to beach with the Moomins because this Bahamian life is absolutely wonderful but he doesn’t stay with the Moomins, he would have preferred to go back to his own life. So everyone has a choice.
And, the last question, whats next for you?
Next for me? It is not a secret that I would love to do a Moomins sequel, another movie, and maybe more in Moomins valley this time and so we discuss with Sophia Jansson and the Moomin characters to put out another movie.
MOOMINS ON THE RIVIERA IS OUT NOW