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Meet the filmmaker who made that Disney short in front of 'Moana'

Director of
Director of "Inner Workings," Leo Matsuda, is a veteran animator at Walt Disney Animation Studios.
Disney Studios
Director of
Director Leo Matsuda and The Frame's host, John Horn.

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Over the long Thanksgiving weekend, the Disney animated feature “Moana” took in more than $81 million across North America. That’s good news for Leo Matsuda – he’s the writer and director of the animated short film “Inner Workings,” which screens before “Moana” in theaters.

The film is just over six minutes long and has no dialogue, instead relying on colorful visuals to tell the internal struggle of a man whose heart and mind want different things. He's an accountant-type who works in a firm called Boring, Boring and Gloom. Each day he contemplates ditching work to do something fun like go to the beach or eat a huge plate of pancakes. But in his imagination, anything other than working would lead to tragedy.

Leo Matsuda is a story artist on staff at Disney Animation. His credits include “Zootopia” and "Wreck it Ralph," and he's currently working on the sequel to “Frozen.”

Matsuda tells The Frame that the idea for "Inner Workings" began with looking at his own internal struggles:

"It really started because of my personal life, because of my heritage. I'm Japanese and Brazilian. My Japanese side is very logical and disciplined, but my Brazilian side likes Carnaval and parties and is like a warmer side of me. So I have this tug of war that goes on in my life. And I think everyone has, to some extent, a tug of war. Everyone is a product of different cultures."

The visual inspiration to show the internal organs of the man in the film came from Matsuda's childhood — in particular, an artifact that fascinated him as a kid.

"I also was born in the '80s, so I love that time. The most endearing memories of my childhood came from that time. We didn't have internet at that time and I remember the encyclopedias. There was the eighth volume of the encyclopedias — the biology one. It showed the different acetate pages of the human body. For me it was fascinating to see how the layers would combine together. They would actually work together."

Leo Matsuda's short film "Inner Workings" is now playing in front of "Moana."

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