Big City Greens the Movie: Spacecation Cast & Filmmakers Talk Record-Breaking Length, Live Orchestra (Exclusive)

By Russ Milheim Posted:
Big City Greens the Movie: Spacecation

The cast and filmmakers of Disney's Big City Greens the Movie: Spacecation excitedly spoke to The Direct on the project's red carpet about what makes the new movie unique from the show and how they managed to have a live orchestra record the score for the project.

The Greens family is making a major change for their upcoming movie. Instead of having an adventure in Big City, Spacecation will take them to outer space for the first time.

Big City Greens the Movie: Spacecation Red Carpet

Big City Greens the Movie: Spacecation

While speaking to The Direct at the red carpet premiere of Disney’s Big City Greens the Movie: Spacecation, the cast and filmmakers commented on how this film is different than the show, the incredible score they put together, and what makes this franchise so unique.

Chris Houghton, co-creator of the series and the voice of Cricket Green, addressed the historic nature of this installment in the Big City Greens franchise, confirming that Spacecation breaks the record as "the longest Big City Green story [they’ve] ever told."

Spacecation clocks in with a runtime of 1 hour and 22 minutes, over seven times as long as the average 11-minute episode of Big City Greens.

For Director Anna O’Brian, the most unique part of the film was the simple fact that "it’s a movie," which offered "an expanded schedule" and the ability to "tell a bigger story:"

"I mean, just the fact that it's a movie. I've been a director on the series for many years. And just to have an expanded schedule and to tell a bigger story with these characters was so much fun. I think we're just kind of pushing the characters in a way that they can't really be pushed in an 11-minute episode. So I think it's bigger emotions, bigger scenery, bigger songs. It's just all bigger. It's great."

Bob Joles, who plays Bill Green in the film, confirmed that the adventure is "about an hour longer" and that "it’s just jam-packed from one end to the other."

The voice behind Grandma Alice, Artemis Pebdani, assured that "this is all just Big City Greens but on a bigger scale:"

"This is all just 'Big City Greens,’ but on a bigger scale. And I remember seeing the original scripts and like the ideas of the adventures, the action sequences, and they seemed so big. And to see that slowly coming together. And then to see—I went to the orchestra recording and just nearly lost my mind to see everything explode like that, which was pretty amazing."

Executive Vice President of Television Animation and Disney Branded Television Meredith Roberts shared how she feels that "this is a really special experience for the fans of the show:"

"I think this is a really special experience for the fans of the series to go somewhere the series can't go, but also potentially to bring in new viewership who just see the movie and fall in love with our characters and watch the series."

Joles reminisced about how they have "been working on this for a long three years:"

"We've been working on this for almost three years… It's been a lot of work from the writers to the animators and the voice cast. There are some great, you know, special stars that have come in to do things for the movie. A lot of strings were pulled, and a lot of hopes and prayers were answered."

For many involved, the music is one of the biggest parts of Spacecation, especially concerning how expanded the score is compared to the original series.

Shane Houghton, co-creator and executive producer of the movie, revealed how "[they] had a live orchestra on the movie," which consisted of around "sixty musicians" over "two days:"

"We had a live orchestra on the movie, which was very exciting. We did two days of an orchestra record with like sixty musicians, something like that. It was a lot. It was the coolest sound to be in a room, like a completely soundproof room, with the best musicians in Hollywood playing music for the movie that we made. It was an incredible feeling."

Joles also had plenty of praise for their composer, Yoky Horsley, calling the shift from the smaller ensemble they’re used to "a big deal:"

"There's a lot of great music in it. Yoky Horsley, our composer, got a full studio orchestra to do this one rather than the smaller ensemble he uses for the regular show. So I mean, it was a big deal… I'm very excited to see it because I haven't seen the movie in its entirety. And I haven't heard the score yet. So I'm very excited."

Zeno Robinson, the man behind Remy in Big City Greens, was notably excited to have been able to "watch them score the film live on the stage:"

"So I got to go and watch them score the film live on the stage at Sony, and I was like, 'Wow, this is so incredible.' This is something I've never gotten to experience while we're recording the show proper. Even the whole, everything around it, like that experience, has made it incredibly unique and incredibly special."

The voice of Tilly Green, Marieve Herington, mentioned how excited she was to see "the music evolve" and also "the story:"

"I love seeing the music evolve… I'm very excited to see its completion, but it was really cool to see the story evolve from the table read all the way through, which was like two years ago, all the way through now to the finished scripts, the final animatic. I cannot wait to hear the final music."

Chris Houghton also told a story about how they "got to do a research trip" to "Jet Propulsion Laboratory" to prep for the film:

"We got to do a research trip at JPL, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. We were shown all around, and we were taught the history of rockets and space exploration. And that was incredible."

Shane added that they learned all about JPL’s "lucky peanuts," which they incorporated heavily into the film:

"They told us about their lucky peanuts. And we ended up putting lucky peanuts all over the movies. So, if you're watching the, look out. There are peanuts everywhere."

The filmmaker went on to explain the story behind the peanuts and why they are so significant:

"As NASA is doing this launch, with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, they're trying to get these rockets to go. They're failing one after another. And finally on like the 13th launch, it works. The rocket works. Everything's good, everybody's happy. And they check the calculations and go, 'What do we do differently?' Everybody looks, and they do, 'Everything is exactly the same.' Nothing is different on this launch, except one guy goes, 'I had a jar of peanuts on like the console.' And ever since then, at JPL, having like a jar of peanuts has become their good luck charm. So they told us, they're like, 'If you want our movie to be a hit, put peanuts in it because that's our good luck charm.'"

As for what other properties the Houghton brothers might want to fiddle around with, Shane seemed pretty into the idea of working with the Muppets:

"I mean, there are so many Disney properties, right? There's a lot going on, but honestly, I feel like, for our sensibilities, I'll take Muppets any day."

Raven-Symone, who plays Media Maria in the series, admitted that for him, the most unique part of the process was how "[she] didn't know sometimes when [she] was actually filming the movie:"

"Well, what made it the most unique was that I didn't know sometimes when I was actually filming the movie. I have a couple of episodes that I go back and forth with, and so they kept it--They didn't keep it a secret, but I came in so early, and I finished so quickly. I don't think my brain recognized that I was actually filming a movie at the time. So it'll be interesting to be like, Oh, I remember how many takes I did with that. Oh, that's what that line was for. So that'll be fun for me."

For Anna Akana, who brings Gloria to life, she enjoyed "finally [getting] to team up with the Greens mom:"

"I think the most unique part was that I finally got to team up with the Greens mom, who I'm a big fan of. And I finally got to be her tagalong sidekick. And so that was really fun."

As for what the next big escalation in the Greens’ story could be, Akana offered the idea of "time travel," potentially back to "medieval times:"

"I guess time travel, but I don't know if that's jumping the shark. But maybe we could go somewhere in the past, like medieval times, where Gloria could be like a barmaid. You know, I think that'd be really fun."

But, at the end of the day, what makes Big City Greens so special?

Shane explained how he hopes that "people see themselves in very relatable scenarios:"

"It's an animated family sitcom, 'Big City Greens,’ which has a lot of fun, relatable characters with a kind of heightened reality. So, hopefully, people see themselves in very relatable scenarios and conflicts, but it goes to this kind of goofy, silly extreme that makes it fun and entertaining. But there's always this bit of heart and emotional truth that I think people kind of latch on to, and it just feels good. I think it's a very fun and comforting show to watch."

Chris added that "when [they are] making it, [they] really are just trying to have fun:"

"And when we're making it, we really are just trying to have fun. Nothing goes into the show that we don't think is funny and fun. And we just operate under the belief that if we're laughing and if we like this, hopefully other people will, too. And we've been very lucky to find out that's the case."

"Big City Greens at its core has great heart," Robinson explained, adding how "it’s always grounded in real human experience:"

"I think 'Big City Greens,' at its core, has great heart. You can always feel the heart and love that everyone on the team puts into every single episode, and it's there on the screen. It's grounded in family... It's always grounded in real human experiences, just taken into an animated format. And I think with that, combined with the humor, combined with the music and everybody's incredible performances, I think that's really what makes 'Big City Greens', something special. It's something we can all not only relate to, but find comfort in and find about heart in it as well."

Big City Greens the Movie: Spacecation debuts on Disney+ on June 6.

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- About The Author: Russ Milheim
Russ Milheim is the Industry Relations Coordinator at The Direct. On top of utilizing his expertise on the many corners of today’s entertainment to cover the latest news and theories, he establishes and maintains communication and relations between the outlet and the many studio and talent representatives.