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Interview: The Making of Disney Pixar’s “Nona”

Pixar shorts are a fan-favorite way to watch short stories and fall in love with new characters in just a few minutes. Louis Gonzales’ short film Nona is a charming story about a grandmother whose best laid plans are disrupted by a visit from her granddaughter.

Pixar shorts have a way of immersing audiences into magical new worlds or making them feel cozy in someone else’s home in just a matter of minutes and Nona is no exception!

Here is the scoop on Pixar’s Nona coming to Disney+ on September 17!

The Nona Team

Louis Gonzales is the writer and director of Nona. After working at Pixar for several years, he got the opportunity to direct his own SparkShort.

Courtney Kent is the producer of Nona.

Finding the Right Partner

Courtney Kent is photographed on October 11, 2018 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

When Louis Gonzales set out to make Nona, he still needed someone to be the producer. While describing how he met his producer Courtney Kent, Louis explains “I wasn’t sure, I never met her before. But I knew what I was looking for. I needed someone who was gonna push me, who was smarter than me. And Courtney fit the bill to the T.”

During their meeting, Courtney impressed Louis right away. He says, “She was telling me stuff about production; I just kinda felt like a little kid goin, uh-huh. Okay, thank you for teaching me. I just didn’t know. I felt like I didn’t realize how much I didn’t know until Courtney came in.”

After their meeting, Louis asked Courtney to join his team and the making of Nona began!

A Tribute to Grandmothers

Nona
© 2021 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Recalling where his inspiration for the character Nona comes from, Louis Gonzales says, “I looked to family and friends, right, the people I love and honor.” He adds, “It dawned on me, like this is-this character’s a lot like my grandma.”

Louis also explains the similarities between his grandmother Pearl and Nona. He says they’re similar, “Why? Well, she’s, you know, big personality, strong individual. I love her to death.”

He recalls, “I was kind of afraid of her when I was young, ’cause I was kind of a shy kid. But here’s the important part, she loved wrestling. She loved wrestling. You know, and that was the time that me and her bonded was when we actually-she was like, ‘[Louis?] you love wrestling? I love wrestling too.’ And I was like, oh my goodness, I have the coolest grandma.”

After making the connection between his grandmother and Nona Louis says, “I have a version, a truthful version of this character.”

Building the Story

Louis Gonzales is photographed on February 15, 2021 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

Gonzales compares his story for Nona to a wrestling match, much like the ones he and his grandmother bonded over when he was young.

He says, “I needed to cast an opponent. So I knew I had this little girl about three years old, four years old, full of energy. But here’s what I needed, I needed to know, I needed to think about a kid that had a strong will, someone that can actually challenge my grandma Pearl.”

He explains, “And it dawned on me, my daughter Lola, she would be a good one to cast as a little girl. She’s had a strong mind about what she wanted since she was… I think came out of the womb.”

Louis continues saying, “And so now I have my two opponents. Right? I have-I have my conflict. But this is a wrestling match, so I needed a referee.”

As for finding his referee, Louis shares that “I figured, you know what, I could put a person there, maybe a friend. But what would be a better friend than a dog? I-I totally can see Nona, uh, you know, a lady by herself with a pet to keep her…you know, to be her best friend.”

Looking back on the experience, Louis says, “Despite being my first short made during the pandemic, working from home, it was a blessing. Every day I was surrounded by passionate and brilliant people I was happy to call Team Nona. I’ll be forever thankful for the opportunity to write and direct this SparkShort.”

Be sure to check out this charming story about Nona verses her granddaughter on Disney+ on September 17!

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