VIVO Director and Writer Talks Bringing the Caribbean to Life Through Song and Animation

Screenshot from Netflix’s YouTube

VIVO Director and Writer Talks Bringing the Caribbean to Life Through Song and Animation

By Movieguide® Staff

Lin-Manuel Miranda, the director, writer, and actor behind HAMILTON, embarks on an animated musical adventure in Netflix’s new movie, VIVO.

Miranda offers his vocal talents in VIVO, as a singing kinkajou, as he travels around Havana, Key West, and the Everglades in order to deliver his friend Andrés’ message to the love of his life.

Movieguide® recently sat down with director Kirk Demicco and writer Quiara Alegría Hudes to discuss how Miranda’s music played a role in the movie’s exciting animation.

“It was something that was really a treat right from the get go,” Demicco said of VIVO’s animation. “When I first heard the songs that Lin was working on in the story, setting it in Cuba through Florida, it was a world that, in CG, we haven’t seen and it was a place that I thought, bringing that Caribbean palette to the animation would be really fun and beautiful.”

“A road movie always is something that I like in animation, because there’s visual resets throughout,” he added about Havana, Key West, the Everglades, and Miami. “The styles of animation really were drawn from the songs, because those songs just inspired this mid-century, 1950s 1960s vibe. Carlos Zaragoza, our production designer, had these ideas of how we can really bring that to life.”

Joining Vivo is Gabi, a young girl voiced by Ynairaly Simo. Hudes noted that Vivo and Gabi’s characters show that creativity comes with both refinement and embracing your mistakes.

“As we were deciding how to expand the world and move forward with story, they’re such classics, they’re so refined, I just really wanted to bring in an energy that basically blew that to bits, but in a positive way,” Hudes told Movieguide® of Gabi. “So she is positive. She’s kind of like a joyous nonconformist and is really creative, too, but not particularly interested in refinement, she is interested in wildness and in letting loose and the freedom that that brings her.”

“I just felt like, if we bring in this girl who’s all about embracing the flaws and embracing the mistakes, and actually building on those, versus a very refined classy performer, which is Vivo, we would get a lot of mileage for them to take a journey together,” she added.

Demicco added that VIVO is also about leaning into the “curve,” and trusting that there are new friendships to be made even if you feel lonely.

“These things take so long to make and from when we started to when we finished, going through the COVID pandemic and stuff, Lin wrote “Keep the Beat,” which is the midpoint song about leaning into the curve and that was something we all had to do at the time,” Demicco said. “However, as isolated you may feel, a window will open to new friendships and new openings and new loves. VIVO took on new meaning as we progressed through making the film.”

Movieguide®’s review of VIVO will be available shortly!