On April 20, 2012, Disneynature’s newest story will unfold in theaters nationwide. Chimpanzee is the true life adventure introducing an adorable young chimpanzee named Oscar and his entertaining approach to life in a remarkable story of family bonds and individual triumph. Oscar’s playful curiosity and zest for discovery showcase the intelligence and ingenuity of some of the most extraordinary personalities in the animal kingdom. Working together, Oscar’s chimpanzee family — including his mom, Isha, and the group’s savvy leader, Freddy — navigates the complex territory of the forest.
The world is a playground for little Oscar and his fellow young chimpanzees, who’d rather make mayhem than join their parents for an afternoon nap. But when Oscar’s family is confronted by a rival band of chimpanzees, he is left to fend for himself until a surprising ally steps in and changes his life forever.
Walt Disney Pictures has provided us with these additional character descriptions to help you get acquainted with some of the stars of the upcoming film:
OSCAR is a feisty, funny and adorable baby chimpanzee. His high-energy spirit and sense of adventure shine as he plays with his little friends and learns the ways of the world under the watchful eye of mom Isha. But life in the rainforest isn’t always fun and games and Oscar has a lot to learn. He teams up with a very special and unexpected teacher who shares the most valuable tool of all: love.
ISHA is Oscar’s loving mother and sole caretaker. She grooms him, nurses him and serves as his personal taxi throughout the rainforest. Like all mothers, she is challenged with Oscar’s restless ways—often missing out on well-deserved naps due to his shenanigans. But she loves her son dearly and would do anything for him.
FREDDY is the powerful and highly respected leader of Oscar’s chimpanzee family. He is in charge of keeping everyone safe and knows just where to go to find breakfast, lunch and dinner. Freddy takes his responsibilities very seriously, so he has little time for fun.
SCAR heads up a rival chimpanzee group which always seems to be lingering on the edge of Freddy’s turf. They’d love to get their hands on the tasty nuts that grow in Oscar’s neighborhood and their constant presence keeps Freddy on his toes.
We’ve also been provided with what Disney likes to call ‘fun facts,’ but as you’ll see, what goes into producing a film like Chimpanzee is a lot of hard work and dedication. As often is the case with Disneynature films, the dedicated filmmakers and crew are highlighted at the end of the movie, but until then, here’s just some of what the crew went through to make the film:
ALL IN A DAY’S WORK
LUCKY NUMBER 700 — More than 700 days of filming was required to make Chimpanzee.
KILLER COMMUTE — Getting to the Tai Forest took two days, including a 14-hour drive along bumpy dirt roads where the car would frequently break down miles away from the nearest village. The crew then carried all the equipment on an hour-long walk to camp.
HEADACHE — To build the film crew’s camp, the crew carried into the forest on their heads:
- 2.5 tons of cement
- 7 tons of wood
- 400 sheets of roofing tin
- 4 truckloads of sand
- 4 truckloads of gravel
- 6 water tanks
- 4 beds and mattresses
- 3 sinks
- 1 toilet
- 1 shower
- 1 stove
FEED ME — The team needed 550 pounds of food, which had to last for three months in the forest.
CLOSE ENCOUNTER — On a trip to Tai village for supplies, Field Logistics Manager Ed Anderson got the vehicle stuck in the mud. He left the vehicle to run back to camp, and on the way encountered a leopard on his path just a few yards away from him. Fortunately, the leopard turned and disappeared into the forest.
HEAVY LOAD — On a typical shooting day, each member of the team carried 40 pounds of gear, consisting of:
- Several water bottles
- Head torches
- Spare batteries
- Insect repellent
- Notebook and pen
- Head nets to protect from bee attacks
- Antihistamines and adrenaline in case of bee attack
- Noodles and sardines for lunch
- Lens cloths
- Surgical face masks
- Toilet paper
- Trash bags
THAT’S HOT — The crew had to trek through the jungle in temperatures as high as 86 degrees Fahrenheit with almost 100 percent humidity – it was like exercising in a sauna.
MILES AND MILES — During each day of shooting, the team found the chimpanzees as far as three miles away from the camp and followed them for as many as six miles per day, trekking another three miles back to camp—that’s 12 miles on foot in a given day.
WATCH YOUR STEP — The crew wore two pair of socks to prevent blisters during the long days of trekking.
THESE BOOTS AREN’T MADE FOR WALKING — Crew members wore rubber boots that weren’t particularly comfortable during long walks, but they protected their feet from getting wet and developing foot rot. The boots also protected the crew’s feet from snake bites.
THAT’S DEDICATION – While footage of the chimpanzees eating from a bees nest and fishing for ants provided incredible sequences in the film, actually getting the footage involved being stung by bees and bitten by ants.
WHAT?! — The forest is extremely loud, which made sound recording particularly difficult. Birds and insects call so loudly that it is hard to isolate the chimpanzees’ calls.
DO NO HARM — Before going near the chimpanzees, the crew had to spend eight days in quarantine (five days in the forest camp, three in the capital Abidjan), to ensure they did not bring diseases into the forest that could be transmitted to the chimpanzees. This is why filmmakers wore masks.
BACK OFF — The crew had to stay at least 23 feet away from the chimpanzees. If a chimpanzee looked at them, it meant they were too close.
BIG SHOTS — The filmmakers had to be vaccinated for measles, meningitis, yellow fever and poliomyelitis, and take anti-worming tablets before entering the forest.
HOME SWEET HOME
ALL WET — The team had to take a cold shower every morning, but the forest was so hot and humid that is was actually quite refreshing. Unfortunately, the humidity also meant that the crew’s towels would never dry.
RUDE AWAKENING — One night, crew members awoke to millions of driver ants marching through the camp, covering their beds. They stopped the ants by pouring generator fuel around the camp; the smell of the fuel deterred the ants from camp.
SERIOUSLY? — On a trip to a viewpoint to film forest scenics, team members were attacked by swarms of bees, each sustaining some 50 bee stings. That night, the tree next to their tents was struck by lightning, which then traveled underground and electrocuted the team (they were OK).
As a reminder, for every moviegoer who sees Chimpanzee during the film’s opening week (April 20-26, 2012), Disneynature will make a donation to the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund. Founded in 1977, the Jane Goodall Institute continues Dr. Goodall’s pioneering research on chimpanzee behavior started more than 50 years ago — research that transformed scientific perceptions of the relationship between humans and animals. Today, the Institute is a global leader in the effort to protect chimpanzees and their habitats. It also is widely recognized for establishing innovative community-centered conservation and development programs in Africa, and Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots, the global environmental and humanitarian program for youth of all ages, which has groups in more than 120 countries.
Directed by Alastair Fothergill (African Cats and Earth) and Mark Linfield (Earth) and narrated by Tim Allen, Chimpanzee swings into theaters on April 20, 2012, just in time for Earth Day.