UNH degree played a part in Oscar-winning movie
"Frozen" director Jennifer Lee, right, shares a laugh with co-director Chris Buck, left, and visual development artist Lisa Keene. (Araya Diaz/Disney)
Winning an Academy Award, she has found, carries certain privileges.
"The funny thing about it for me, though, having this opportunity, I joke, has allowed me to meet every single crush I ever had in Hollywood," Lee said from her studio office in Burbank, Calif.
For those wondering, the Los Angeles-area resident hasn't found a permanent landing spot for her Oscar statue. "It's funny; right now, he just comes around with me occasionally," she said.
Lee grew up loving Cinderella because "I just related to this sort of dare-to-dream attitude she had" and also acted out scenes from "The Jungle Book" film with her sister.
She never expected to be tapped to deliver UNH's commencement address in Durham May 17.
"I'm a little bit like: Am I old enough? Have I done enough in my life?" she said. "It's such an honor. How could I miss the opportunity to be there, and I hope I can bring something meaningful."
"I have just a big pile of notes, and it's just like how I write a script," Lee said. "I write about 40 pages of ideas and outlines and then hone it down."
When a test audience screened "Frozen" a year ago, the response exceeded the expectation of filmmakers, who still had their doubts.
"The key is we didn't know if people would come to it," Lee said. "We were taking some risks with the film, doing a grand musical again with two female leads, and so we just said, 'Well, we'll be fearless and try it and see what happens,' so we were pleasantly surprised, of course."
"Fearless optimist Anna (voice of Kristen Bell) sets off on an epic journey - teaming up with rugged mountain man Kristoff (voice of Jonathan Groff) and his loyal reindeer Sven - to find her sister Elsa (voice of Idina Menzel), whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter," explained Disney's website. "Encountering Everest-like conditions, mystical trolls and a hilarious snowman named Olaf, Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom."
And 3,100 customers on Amazon.com gave the movie an average 4.6 rating out of 5.
"Those who know me and know how easily I stain my clothes and speak too fast and mess up a lot can agree," Lee said.
Making the movie involved "upwards of 600 to 650 people," including around 70 lighting people and 70-plus animators, she said.
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