Disney’s Us Again: The Story Behind This Beautiful Short

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Disney’s Us Again is visually stunning and captivating from beginning to end. This short also gives viewers a very important message.

us again poster

Us Again is one of the best Disney animated shorts I have ever seen. It is simply gorgeous to look at and teaches some very important lessons at the same time. This short is a must watch for many reasons, and I was very excited to have the chance to chat with the talented people behind it in the Us Again press junket.

Participating Talent

  • Zach Parrish (Director)
  • Keone & Mari Madrid (Choreographers/Dancers)
  • Brad Simonsen (Producer)

The Inspiration Behind The Short

When Zach Parrish first came up with this idea, it was because he was starting to come to terms with his age. He felt he was getting older and I have to admit, I have been there myself. Even though I am just 36 you should hear how many times a week I go to stand up and think wow, I am getting old. After a conversation with his mother he realized his priorities were all wrong. If he is always looking in the past, he was going to miss the beauty of the now. And that is exactly what inspired Us Again.

Enter Keone and Mari

Fun fact, while researching for this project of his he came across a young couple who were dancing together in an online video, dressed as an older couple. He started to pass the video around saying this is what he wanted to recreate — the emotion and the love that he felt from it. To his surprise Keone and Mari Madrid, who were in that video he loved so much, ended up joining the creative team for the film and doing the choreography. 

Mari says this has been a dream come true and she is still pinching herself. Her and Keone are huge disney fans so this is surreal to them. Keone says that seeing this short come to life is like “seeing two of your dance students take your choreography to another level.” The magic of the animators took it to another level and did a beautiful job.

Interracial Couple Representation 

Something that was very important to both Zach and Producer Brad Simonsen is portraying an interracial couple on the screen. They are both in interracial relationships and have always wanted to represent that. They met with diversity and inclusion specialists in the design stage, and throughout the whole project, to make sure it was done right. It must have been fate for these creative individuals to join forces with Keone and Mari because they are both children of interracial couples. Because of this Us Again is extra meaningful to them.

Why The Rain?

In this short the couple look young when in the rainstorm, but older when outside of it. So why the rain?Zach admits that he has a thing about rain and puddles. For him, growing up in the Midwest, rain is a joyful thing. When he was a kid he loved playing in the rain. “When thinking about water as a fountain of youth, the rain felt like a perfect fit as it makes you feel like a kid again.” 

The rain represents a passion of rediscovery for this couple in Us Again. Art and Dot become a physical us again, but also an emotional us again. This short is not about becoming young again, it is about emotionally being true to who you are, and recognizing the world around you.

Music Video Feel

When talking about the lighting and animation choices, Zach says that from the beginning he was thinking about it as a dance number. He wanted it to feel theatrical and for everything have a “then and now” feel. For example, the large colored lights are important so that it feels like a music video. Us Again wanted to find a happy place cinematically — where it kind of feels like a music video, but kind of old, and kind of new.

How Does It Feel To Work With Disney?

Zach says he cried the day he got the opportunity — and several other days since. He feels very priveledged to get to work with 100 incredibly talented people on Us Again. And to be attached to a film like Raya and the Last Dragon is CRAZY (he says he can’t think of a better word). it has felt overwhelming for two years and doesn’t get old. “Every day I cant believe this is happening. It is an honor to be a part of the legacy of Disney shorts.“, Zach adds.

Easter Eggs

Everyone loves Easter Eggs and Us Again sure has a lot of them! Zach says that the apartment has a ton of Easter Eggs — not all specific to Disney. Look closely and you could spot a stein on the shelf from Tangled. Fantasia is a huge inspiration to Us Again and so they had to pay homage to it. This film is actually playing on the movie screen in the background — it goes by very quickly so you might have to pause to catch it. 

The Takeaways

When asked what they want the audience to takeaway from their short, Us Again, this is what the minds behind it had to say.

“Love and being present with each other. #CoupleGoals — that love and that warmth. It’s still a tough time for people. I hope that as artists we can bring some sort of joy to people.” – Keone Madrid

“Whatever that source of love and presence you brush aside every day, take the time to do it and feel it.” – Mari Madrid

“Being present. And grateful and thankful for the loved ones you have. They are often taken for granted. Love who you are with and tell them that. Enjoy every moment that we have.” – Brad Simonsen

“Look at their grandparents and realize they were kids once too. Ask them questions. I missed out on that and wasn’t self aware enough to talk to my grandparents while they were still around.” – Zach Parrish

About Us Again

“Us Again,” a vibrant and original new theatrical animated short from director Zach Parrish that brings together dance, music, emotional storytelling and inspired animation, is set to debut exclusively in theaters worldwide beginning on March 5, playing on the same bill as Walt Disney Animation Studios’ (WDAS) newest animated feature, “Raya and the Last Dragon.”

The film is Disney Animation’s first new theatrical short since the 2016 release of “Inner Workings,” which accompanied “Moana” on the big screen. “Us Again” is scheduled to make its streaming debut in June on Disney+.

Us Again joins Raya and the Last Dragon in theaters on March 5th,
and comes to Disney+ in June.

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