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Coco Interview: Animation Manager Jesus Martinez

While in Oaxaca for the home video release of Disney and Pixar’s 19th film, Coco, Screen Rant spoke with the animation Manager, Jesus Martinez, about his experience working on the film, with the animators, and his experience with Dia de Los Muertos.

Screen Rant: Hey guys, Joe with Screen Rant and I'm with Jesus, the animation manager, what can you tell me exactly an animation manager does?

Jesus Martinez: Yeah, good question my parents ask all the time. So basically, I partner with the creative supervisors, so in this case the two supervising animators and we manage the team. So my specific role is kind of making sure the artists have everything they need to do the amazing work that they do, that they feel supported and keep morale, up but at the same time like make sure that we're getting those deadlines that the producers and that the studio needs from us.

Screen Rant: Now, I'm assuming you took a lot of trips here to Oaxaca during the course of the making of Coco from 2012 I believe, all the way to 2017 I think? Now, were you on those trips?

Jesus Martinez: So, I was not, because I was working on other films at the time. So yeah, I was brought in about two years before the release and yeah, so what I do, is kind of like, it depends on what department I work in, you can work three months or four years in a film, so I was lucky enough to have a good-sized chunk on this film.

Screen Rant: Now I know that you said you haven't seen the behind the scenes stuff and I have, it's like many documentaries, you know, a lot of your animators, a lot of your team came back with sketches and I saw them sketching what they would see, do you know what exactly made it possibly into the film from their sketches?

Jesus Martinez: Everything from just kind of like the design of the alebrijes, the colors that they use, to the shapes, the different shapes of faces and bodies that you see all over Mexico, so I think there's undeniably a little bit of everything in everything that they brought back, but specifically it's a little hard to tell because it's all a conglomeration of a lot of visions.

Screen Rant: Now we're here with a lot of beautiful alebrijes

Jesus Martinez: Yeah!

Screen Rant: I said it right this time!

Jesus Martinez: Yes, yes you did.

Screen Rant: What were your two animals, do you know?

Jesus Martinez: So I only know my birthdate one, it's an owl.

Screen Rant: OK.

Jesus Martinez: Yeah, so he's the healer, so I'm supposed to be able to heal people with my words.

Screen Rant: Now, one thing that's a big important part about Coco is family and one thing after watching the behind the scenes stuff is that everybody celebrates family a little bit differently when it comes to Dia de Los Muertos. What were some of the traditions that maybe you had growing up that you would celebrate with your family?

Jesus Martinez: Yeah, well for us, we celebrate a little bit differently, my family's from the north, from the state of Durango and it's a little bit different out there. But definitely for us it was the remembering your deceased ones, not just on that day but pretty much all year round and sharing their stories and definitely having their pictures up and just making sure that we don't forget who they were and the influence that they had on us.

Screen Rant: Now, for a lot of those eagle-eyed, hard core Pixar fans that are going to get the Blu-ray DVD or digital release, they're going to go frame by frame and try to figure out which Easter eggs they can pick out. Now, there's a few in the DVD which they mention, but is there any that you were able to kind of pick out while you were making the film?

Jesus Martinez: You know, for me, we have the regular Easter Eggs and it's hard because I'm tracking just the work and then I forget to look for these Easter Eggs, sometimes, a shot leaves our department and they will add in the Pixar ball or something. But for me, what I love in this film is the Mexican historical figures that we had, so to have Cantinflas in there, and Negrete, and Maria Feliz . . . Those are people, those were my idols growing up because those were my grandfather used to talk to me about, so for me those are the Easter Eggs that I love and that not maybe unless you're familiar with Mexican cinema you might not know.

Screen Rant: That's amazing! So, if you can sum up the digital and Blu-ray release in a hashtag, what would that hashtag be?

Jesus Martinez: Uhhh, #BuyIt

Screen Rant: #BuyIt.

Jesus Martinez: Buy it.

Screen Rant: Pleasure, thank you so much, thank you.

MORE: Coco Interview With Director Adrian Molina

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Coco Interview: Animation Manager Jesus Martinez