Interview with Secret of the Wings Director Peggy Holmes

The new Disney film, Secret of the Wings, staring everyone’s favorite little fairy, Tinker Bell, will be released on Blu-ray/DVD and Digital Download on October 23, 2012. If you would like to read my review, plus enter to win a copy and more more goodies, visit my review/giveaway post HERE. The giveaway ends on October 26, 2012.

When I was out in Hollywood a few weeks ago we had the opportunity to visit Toon Disney Studios. While we were there we met John Lasseter (an unexpected surprise), saw a screening of the film Secret of the Wings and had a chance to chat with the film’s Director, Peggy Holmes.

Here is a little bit from the interview.

Q: Can you tell us how you picked the names? Especially Periwinkle.

Peggy: Okay, that’s a good one. I definitely knew as I sort of looked at photography of winter – when we started I looked at photography of winter – and I noticed there were so many awesome looking whites and blues… One of the things we wanted to focus on in the movie is that this can’t feel like a Christmas place, it’s not a season winter. In this particular movie it’s a place. It’s a place they live, it’s there all the time. So, we needed to sort of create this magical winter and the images I was drawn to were all the whites and the blues. So, we decided to research all the different shades of blue and find the names out of that. So Periwinkle became Periwinkle and Milori, Lord Milori. Milori is a shade of blue.

Q: How did you get Jane Horrocks (Fairy Mary) to sound so matronly and husky?

Peggy: She’s such an amazing actress, isn’t she? She just embodies that character, you know she just is that character. And you know we always know it because if there’s a line in the script that doesn’t sound right, she for sure knows how to turn it around and make it feel like that character. So she just  owns that character. She just comes in. I actually have never gotten to meet her in person. (Jane did the voice for the character in a London sound studio as per Peggy).

Q: Tell me a little bit about the process of introducing Tinker Bell’s sister, since we’ve all known about Tinker Bell, she’s the iconic character.

Peggy: … wanting to tell a story about bringing two worlds together. So when we originally created Periwinkle it was not Tink’s sister. It was a girl like, like when I was in the first day of kindergarten or like the first day at a job. There’s always someone you gravitate toward and you don’t know why yet. You know what I mean? And then as you get to be better friends you realize why. They complete your life in a way that maybe another kid doesn’t complete your life that way. So originally that is how we developed the story and it just wasn’t having as much emotional impact.

Clay Hall, who directed Lost Treasure, actually said “why don’t we just make it her sister?” And we were all like, you know, cause that’s a universal idea that it’s your very right to know your sister. Right? … So then we started the process of what does that mean in this world. So that was a fun creative process and we came upon this idea that oh my gosh there were two little wisps, we just didn’t see it in the first movie.

So that is how kind of the process worked creatively and it was a really fun challenge, not easy I must say… I have three sisters, so I understand sort of that bond that happens between sisters. That sort of unspoken thing. That you just look at each other and you know. You don’t have to talk about oh I would go to the end of the earth for you. You don’t even have to like say it… You can-you just do it.

I wanted to put that feeling in there… we are continually showing you different sides of Tinker Bell’s character. And I think of Tinker Bell as someone who is so loyal. We saw it in Peter Pan. The first time we met her. She is a super loyal girl. So for me a loyal person has a huge heart. So this was an opportunity to sort of step into Tinker Bell’s heart a little  bit and show how emotional she really is… That’s what I wanted us to bring out and in terms of the future we will continue to tell Tinker Bell’s stories. And if it makes sense for Periwinkle to be in that adventure with Tinker Bell she will be there.

Q: So what is next for Tinker Bell?

Peggy: You know all those doors that say no production, no crew past here? Yeah, I can’t actually talk about it… There are several stories in development for Tinker Bell. It’s really exciting and fun and… it’s a director driven process. So every director sort of looks at it a different way and thinks oh what could I tell about her. So that keeps it really fresh and exciting.

Q: Whose decision was it to use the McClain sisters for a couple of the songs?

Peggy: Make a Wish Foundation had a request for us. A little girl who wanted to see the film. So… we pressed a special copy and he flew it to her… in Vancouver. I was there last year at the licensing show for the toys, all the toys. So we went to present the movie and talk about the movie. And at that licensing show, China and McClain performed…Meanwhile we had gotten emails from Matt Walker here in our music department; “there’s someone I want you to see for your movie!” And we were there and we saw her and we were like, “we must have her for our movie!” And sure enough it was the same person. So it was really just a fantastic thing that the music department was excited about her and thought she would be right. She’s launching a record with her sister. I mean that is so perfect! So we brought them in… we showed them the film to get them excited and really have them on board… we want them to relate to the movie. And so that’s how it happened.

Q: Did they write their own songs?

Peggy: In this case they did not write this (theme song). Brendan and Val have written the majority of the songs for the fairies franchise and they wrote this song.  They wrote this song and it’s been in from the beginning. Once they wrote this song we loved it so much.

Q: As far as the 3D, how do you balance wanting to add the 3D elements in there without making it all about 3D for the people who are watching it in 2D?

Peggy: That’s a great question. I think in this case it was exciting to learn about that 3D. We have a stereographer who sort of showed me the scale of 3D. You can go into the screen or you can go out of the screen. I prefer going deep into the screen because for me in this particular world, it made it feel to me like a living diorama. It just makes that world of Pixie Hollow feel that much more real and tangible.

So, the decision is based creatively on sort of what you think will help you tell the story better. When you watch it in 3D you’re feeling that depth more than 2D, but it’s still present in 2D. Style-wise, it’s still present in 2D… 3D it just enhances it a little bit.

You know the other thing I want to say about 3D is for me in this particular story especially, I didn’t want to be aware of it. Especially sort of the emotional moments. I didn’t want to feel like the character was separated from the background. That’s a big thing for me. You know in a different style movie, it would be different. But for this movie I just wanted you to be able to be lost in kind of the emotion of the story and never really be aware of it, and only use it for sort of magical moments to enhance the magic.

A questions was asked about making Tinker Bell and Periwinkle sisters, but I do not have the exact wording of the question.

Peggy: We decided to make Tinker Bell and Periwinkle sisters (then) we thought, okay let’s make them identical sisters. What does that mean in the fairy world? So we decided that they would have identical wings… as you can imagine (it’s) not a good choice to make Tinker Bell (and) Periwinkle look like Tinker Bell. Sp we needed her to have the … underlying spunk that Tinker Bell has, but not quite be developed yet. Tinker Bell has much more life experience than Periwinkle.

We decided on sort of identical wings and we immediately brought in a twin specialist who specialized in twins that had been separated at birth or an early age, and reunited later in life. So there are specialists out there for everything you can think of! We brought this fascinating woman in and she did a huge presentation for us… she taught us about … twins and that connection and having been apart for so long, that they want to connect and they want to learn everything about what they missed. And … that’s how (they) reconnect. We sort of did that with Tink and Peri too. Everything else goes away and they just want to learn about each other’s life.

Peggy went on to explain that they brought in a “snow specialist” to help them create the Winter World in the film. John Lasseter is big on doing research for films so they wanted to research all they can about snow and the cold to make the movie more authentic.

Peggy: So we brought in Tom Painter, who is a Doctor of snow. He was a fantastic source…We learned that frost actually does protect from freeze and that you could actually cover your body in frost and be protected in a freeze…You hear that science and you figure out how can I do this in the story. What can I do? How can I bring that fact, that real fact, into a story because it’s counter intuitive, it is not what you think. Originally we wanted to have Peri be an icicle fairy… In vineyards you guys have probable seen where the sprinklers go off and are protecting the crops from an incoming freeze. So originally that’s what we did. Periwinkle was an icicle fairy and she was going to put ice over everything to save it from the freeze. (When) we sent that to Thomas Painter and he said “okay you’ve just now killed all of Pixie Hollow“. And we said why? He said the reason that the sprinkler system works is because it’s constant. So there’s constant action that is creating heat and it is protecting the plant. We weren’t going to do that. (This is how) research affects your story so much. So now Peri is a frost fairy and she’s not an icicle fairy anymore. It’s a really fun process to sort of use research to develop creativity.

Secret of the Wings is a wonderful story that the whole family will love. Even boys should enjoy this film because it does feature male characters.

For more information visit www.Disney.Go.com/Fairies.


*I was not compensated for this post. I was a guest of Disney. All opinions expressed are my own unless otherwise noted.

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About Kimberly

Kimberly Vetrano resides in the suburbs of New York City with her family and "mini zoo" consisting of five cats, a dog and a Goldfish. Kimberly is a teacher's assistant for a Kindergarten class. When she is not working or blogging, Kimberly enjoys taking photos of nature and hanging out with family and friends.


  1. Very interesting. I didn’t know that frost and protect against frost. Very cool fact.