On today’s Crew Call, we speak to the songwriters of Netflix-Pearl Studio’s animated feature Over the Moon, Helen Park, Marjorie Duffield and Christopher Curtis, whose live-musical theater sensibilities were brought together for a story about a young Chinese girl, who after losing her mother, builds a rocket ship and blasts off to space, looking to meet a mythical moon goddess.
Curtis was an Outer Critics Circle nominee for Broadway’s Chaplin; Duffield, a Jonathan Larson Memorial Fellow for Sit-in at the Five and Dime, and Park a three-time Drama Desk Award nominee who had penned the off-Broadway musical KPOP. The trio bonded over chardonnay and fleshed out the feature’s songs during the spring of 2018 in an AirBnB. A key anthem in the feature is one song by its protagonist Fei Fei, “Rocket to the Moon”, in contention this awards season, in which she builds the rocket which will take her to the goddess Chang’e (you can hear Fei Fei Cathy Ang sing the song below).
While the trio where highly influenced by Beyonce and Lady Gaga among other pop stars in the feature’s rundown of songs, their biggest inspiration came from the pic’s late screenwriter Audrey Wells who died in October 2018 after a private battle with cancer. Wells passed away just as her the movie she adapted The Hate U Give was hitting theaters. She directed such movies as Under the Tuscan Sun and Guinevere and wrote such movies as The Kid, Shall We Dance, and A Dog’s Purpose.
“It was the love of Audrey’s vision and voice that binded us together,” says Curtis.
Says Duffield, “It became very clear that she wrote it [Over the Moon] as a love letter to her husband and her daughter with a focus on moving on, loving someone new, and experiencing the loss, but not letting it hold you back from living the life you want to lead.”
Wells was brought into the songwriting process well before she passed.
“We’d play drafts for her and get her feedback. She had great intuition about the songs, because they were inspired by her script. Those meetings were great where we played four or five songs at her house in Santa Monica. That afternoon was the highlight for all of us,” says Curtis.
“Wells did see the first screening of this, so that was a great moment,” adds Curtis.