Veteran story artist David G. Derrick has been set to direct the upcoming musical long-form Moana series.
The Disney+ series will be the first production produced out of the new Vancouver outpost of Walt Disney Animation Studios.
Derrick’s first project at Disney was the original 2016 Moana feature. Since then, he’s worked as a board artist on the cg remake of The Lion King, Raya and the Last Dragon, and Encanto. He is also working on the studio’s upcoming feature, Strange World.
Prior to joining Disney, Derrick spent a decade in the story department at Dreamworks Animation on titles including Megamind, Bee Movie, Flushed Away, How the Train Your Dragon, and Rise of the Guardians. He studied fine art at the University of Utah, and later, animation at Calarts.
Osnat Shurer, who produced the original feature and is also producing the series, says of Derrick, “[His] great story instincts, his visionary cinematic style, and his deep love and commitment to Moana and the Pacific Island cultures that inspired her world, make him a perfect director for the series.”
Derrick is Samoan from his grandmother’s side and has spoken in the past about his interest in working on Moana. He told the Boulder Weekly in 2016:
When the first Polynesians came to Utah, they were forced to — they were segregated out — to this place called Skull Valley, which they named Iosepa. [My grandmother] died there and I made a rubbing of her grave, and I put that up above my desk. [It] reminded me why I was making this film. It was both a thank you and an apology at the same time, thanking her for this rich heritage that most people don’t fully understand and also an apology for the way she was treated. And all of Polynesia in general.
The Moana series is expected to debut in 2024.