12 Moments From The Cars 3 Press Event That Will Get You Excited For The Film

Brian Fee, Cars 3, Interview, Press Conference

Posted by Nia • June 14, 2017

We hope your nostalgia and love for the Cars universe has moved into full gear, because Cars 3 finally opens in cinemas this Friday, June 16th.

Upcoming Pixar was honored to attend the press event for the film last Saturday in Anaheim. Here are some of our favorite moments from the event that will, without a doubt, get you pumped for Friday.

(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

  1. NASCAR superstar, Ray Evernham, moderated the event and started things off by asking Brian Fee why the Cars films have resonated with audiences for over a decade. “I think it’s the characters and the overall appeal to their realism.  When you walk away from a movie, if you felt anything at all, it’s probably because of the characters. You can see a little bit of yourself in them, see a little bit of someone you know. I think at the end of the day that’s what we take away.”
  2. One of the biggest new characters that’s introduced in Cars 3 is Cruz, a personal trainer to the race cars. She has a massive impact in the story and Lightning McQueen’s own character arc. From Cristela Alonzo, the voice of Cruz,”What I like about her is that she’s very good at what she does, but at the same time she still has doubts about herself regarding the same skills that she uses to coach the cars to become the best they can be. What I like about Cruz is that I think she’s very relatable to both boys and girls. You might have doubts about things, you might not know how you’re going to pull something off, and at the end of the day you realize the only way to make sure you can do your best is to actually just go for it and trust your instincts. I think that’s something we all struggle with at times – the whole idea that you think you can do something and then you have doubts. You realize you’ve got to forget the doubts, it’s going to happen anyways – let’s just try our best and see what happens. And I love that about her.”
  3. You’ll notice that Cars 3 has definitely upped the game in regards to showcasing strong female characters. Not only is Cruz involved, but there’s also Natalie Certain, who works for the Racing Sports Network, and spends some of the film predicting the outcome of the races. Kerry Washington is the voice of Natalie, and said this in regards to the diversity in the film, “I do think it’s fun to see women in the film who are brave, smart, and courageous but also teachable. Women who balance having extraordinary talent and intellect but are also humble enough to learn the lessons they learn at the end of the film. To learn that you have to step into your greatness and that it’s not as simple as numbers. Heart and passion is the most important thing.”
  4. Director Brian Fee listed John Lasseter and the late Joe Ranft, as his professional mentors. “They’ve given me a lot of career advice and I wouldn’t be where I am without them.”

    (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

  5. In fact, Fee’s first memory of the Cars franchise was when he started at Pixar in the story department. “My first memory is sitting in story reviews with John and the rest of the story crew, just trying to figure out different ways to make each other laugh around the table. Drawing lots of things, gags and jokes, and pinning them up to the wall. I couldn’t believe I was there, I was trying to absorb everything.”
  6. Fee’s children have influenced Cars 3 a great deal, to the point of including a strong female presence throughout the story, “I want my daughters to never be afraid to try something because they think they’re not good at it. I never want to hear them say something like, certain things are for boys and certain things are for girls.”
  7. Cristela Alonzo definitely had the greatest presence during the press event, and offered many inspirational quotes. This one being our favorite, “I like this movie a lot because I feel it’s a good way to tell kids that they matter. And I think that growing up, when you come from a family that doesn’t have a lot, a lot of the time the parents forget to tell the kids that they matter because they’re too busy trying to survive. I want them to know back home, that it’s possible for them to have a dream and to actually achieve it.”
  8. Owen Wilson and Cristela Alonzo actually worked together, as opposed to recording their lines separately like the rest of the cast. Fee wanted them to record together so that they’d be able to show their relationship and the support, get those real emotions caught together, just like the same support and friendship that Cruz and Lightning McQueen give each other throughout the film.

    (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

  9. Cars 3 deals a lot with the old and the new – the racers of the past and the racers of the present, there was a lot of contrast between the use of modern technology in racing and how the younger, faster cars, are replacing the older makes. Isiah Whitlock Jr, who voices River Scott, a Priston Cup racer from the ’50s, gave his thoughts on the heavy themes, “I really feel that we need to pay attention to the pioneers, and the people who have come before us. And some of the struggles, especially with the character that I play. We need to pay attention to that and to see how we got to where we are today. I know with Scott, he did not have the sponsors or the equipment – there were so many obstacles and yet he was able to persevere. That’s the key word there, perseverance, overcoming a lot of those obstacles to be successful.”
  10. Research for every Pixar film is a key element to the success of the story, but Producer Kevin Reher mentioned that research for Cars 3 was especially important since they were honoring the racers of the past. “We were so inspired from these wonderful stories that came forward during our research. The stories of Louise Smith, Wendell Scott, and Junior Johnson. We just felt that we wanted to honor them with our story and their backstory.”
  11. Brian Fee mentioned that he enjoys some of the improvisation that happens during the recording sessions. He’s had to go back to the script numerous times and change dialogue or some of the action by what wonderful reactions and lines comes from the actors.
  12. And finally, Nathan Fillion, who voices Sterling, Lightning McQueen’s new sponsor, gives his reasons for what makes Pixar films so compelling, “Here’s my theory, nothing happens by accident in a Pixar movie. They tell their story one pixel at a time. So, by the time it gets to the point where I’m sitting there in front of the microphone, all of the hard work has actually been done. I rely very heavily on the director, we get to play around a little bit, but in all honesty you’re looking at a thanksgiving meal and Nathan is the pepper. They work has been done, we just need a little extra pepper and we’re done.”

    (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

    (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

Cars 3 is an absolute blast and we can’t wait to see it again and again in theaters starting this Friday.

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10 Things We’ve Learned About Lou That Proves It’s One Of The Most Charming Pixar Shorts

Cars 3, Dana Murray, Dave Mullins, Interview, Lou, Premiere, Press Conference, Shorts

Posted by Nia • June 14, 2017

At the Cars 3 press junket on Saturday, we got to learn loads of new information about Lou, the short that will be playing in front of the film this Friday. During the making of presentation, director Dave Mullins and producer Dana Murray gave us some wonderful behind the scenes information about how the short was slowly pieced together.

(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

  1. Under the guidance of story guru and overall legend, John Lasseter, Mullins incorporated some must-needed rules for every Pixar film. “Pixar films have very specific ingredients. They have heart, meaning your character is flawed in some way and experiences personal growth over the course of the film. Entertainment, which means the story has to be unpredictable and funny. There’s a setting, which needs to take the viewers to a place they’ve never been before, is exciting, and new. And finally, the animation, and this means the film can only be done with animation and need the medium’s full attention.”
  2. Lou is Mullins’ directorial debut and he’s spent 4 years working on it. He’s even been pitching short film ideas since 2005, but Lou was the first one given the green light from the studio. Mullins is passionate about telling good stories and he started searching for ideas that would stick. He wanted something full of heart. And he turned to the inspiration that came from his childhood, such as moving around a lot due to his father’s job, and leaving behind friends in every city – at time, he said, he almost felt invisible.
  3. “When you bring an inanimate object to life, you have to think about it’s intended purpose in the world.” The lost and found box was initially a bully, stealing the children’s toys in the playground and then eventually learning his mistakes and returning them at the end of the film – but that didn’t work because there was nothing to love about him. At one point during the conception of Lou, the character itself was actually a little boy with all of these toys attached to him. Instead, Mullins went back to the core of what the character was: a lost and found box. It was meant to find and return lost toys to children, so that itself sparked an idea that Lou himself would be the hero/protector of the playground.

    (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

  4. Mullins’ wife, Lisa, who’s a stop motion animator, helped him pitch the film to John Lasseter and Pete Docter by creating a real life maquette of Lou. The model showed how the character would be incorporating objects in to his design and how he would be bringing this character to life by forming him with toys. The overall design of Lou changed throughout the course of the film as they tried to figure out the easiest ways to animate him, but in the end they went back to simple design that Lisa created for the pitch (which in turn, you will see in the finished short).
  5. Dana Murray jumped from Inside Out to help Mullins as producer on Lou. Her biggest job, besides scheduling and budgeting, was partnering with Dave and forming a deep friendship with him so that she ensured he wanted to tell the story he set out to create. During story development they had the obvious challenges like how they’re going to dramatize Lou when he’s built with all of these random toys, and second, how are they going to populate a playground when this is just a short film. If you look closely at the children in the short and even the bully, J.J., you’ll be able to find re-use designs from Finding Dory and Inside Out.
  6. Even though the story was locked down, they had their hero, Lou, and the playground bully, J.J., there were still issues in figuring out how to depict J.J. and how they’re going to get to the heart of Mullins story. “For J.J. we tried a cross between Scott Farkus from A Christmas Story and John Conner’s friend from Terminator 2. But these kids just seemed way too tough for what we needed for our story. So we looked at Jonah Bobo from Crazy Stupid Love. And even though he has this tough look, he’s also really vulnerable at the same time. This is really the look we needed for that character: someone who is tough as nails, but also full of heart.”

    (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

  7. “What pitches well, doesn’t necessarily play well on screen. This happens every time you go into a new department and without fail, when your story is taken through the different departments, it’s just another moment to remake your film. And at Pixar, you’re never really done working on story.” Mullins and Murray had to completely change Lou‘s story several times throughout the course of the film as they got notes from Lasseter and Docter, and when they took their production to the next stage of development. The Lou at the start of this production, when it was initially pitched, is something completely different to what’s on screen.
  8. With every Pixar film, they always have to try and raise the stakes regarding animation and technology. With Lou‘s case it was actually animating this complex character and making it look as believable as possible. “The simplest solution to animating Lou was that every piece of him needed to be animated by hand… everything was animated like how a stop motion animator would do it. To this day, I still have animators cursing my name. But despite all that, we at Pixar love these challenges and the animators really dug into Lou. They were up for the task.” In regards to Mullins using simulations in Lou, Mullins and his crew used cloth simulation on Lou’s red sweatshirt as well as many other elements depicted throughout the film.
  9. “When we animated J.J.’s entrance, it was a great intro but we had some problems with it. The first one was that J.J. wasn’t really that entertaining, he’s just kind of mean for no reason and because of that, it was getting in the way of the ending. We really had to re-think that character again. So the question was, how do you make a bully funny? How do you end of caring for him? And this got me thinking about what motivates bullies. A bully usually acts one way because they want one thing: attention. So, J.J. became a kid who constantly disrupted other kids to get attention, making him an outsider. When Lou forces him to act with compassion, this changes how the other kids see him and he finally gets the thing that he really wants, which is acceptance.” This subtle change had an enormous impact on the film and showed the right character growth that was needed for both J.J. and Lou.

    (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

  10. Finally, Mullins chose Frozen composer Christophe Beck to helm the score for Lou. “He has this quirky sensibility about his music that we knew would fit the film really well. So we worked on that theme, and it was really important, because I wanted something that you could hum, something that would fit for the bully and Lou. Once we had that, Chris came up with this idea, which was, recording all the percussion parts separately in a round. So each note was played one at a time, and would go in a circle, to create this sort of mechanical tune.”

It’s safe to say that Lou is now one of our favorite Pixar shorts and we’re so excited for you to experience it on the big screen this Friday, June 16th.

Stay-tuned for coverage on the actual Cars 3 press event and reviews of the films.

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Cars 3 interview with story team

Bob Peterson, Cars 3, Interview

Posted by Simoa • June 1, 2017

Do you spend a lot of time pondering the logistics of the Cars universe? While the filmmakers at Pixar have never addressed most of the burning questions surrounding these films, the writing team for the latest installment, Cars 3, did! The full interview can be found on Slash Film, along with plenty more excellent content on the film and its development.

These interviews are always great fun to read, allowing glimpses into Pixar’s story process and giving fans the opportunity to gain insight into each stage of production. They always prove to be illuminating, and we’re grateful whenever the directors, animators, and writers share behind the scenes facts. And hearing from our favorite Pixarians just sweetens the deal!

The Cars 3 writing team includes everyone’s favorite versatile Pixar voice, Bob Peterson, story supervisor Scott Morse, Mike Rich (credits include Finding Forrester, The Rookie, and Secretariat), and Keil Murray.

Below are excerpts from the interview.

Slash Film: So was it always a Lightning McQueen comeback story where he has to find himself as the world changes around him?

Kiel: I think comeback came with [Mike].

Mike: Yeah, it did come with me. It was always McQueen searching for himself, because he’s confronted with that first moment where he’s going “Oh my gosh, I can’t do this forever. I don’t want to retire. I do want to come back. I want to stay competitive.” But he just didn’t know how to get to the answer of that question. Worse yet, he was making the mistake of just trying to do it just like the [younger racers]. “I’ll get fast again. I’ll do what they’re doing. And I’ll be fine.”

Scott: He’s looking outward and not inward for the answers.

Bob: Mike, you had a one sentence sort of summation which is interesting, in reference to comeuppance, which was “life worth living.”

Mike: Oh, yeah. It’s just kind of a theme of a life worth living is a life that’s constantly evolving. And if you stop or just try and look back, or worse yet, try to go back, then it’s not a recipe for happiness.

Bob: We’ve seen a lot of comeback stories, so we strive to make an emotional and unique one that you may not expect.

On whether the new generation of hot shot racers who threaten Lightning McQueen was at all mirrored at Pixar:

Bob: No, we’re very nurturing and accepting of these young people coming in. Like I always say, there’s no way as a story editor I’d get hired now. You hope that they’re much better. We embrace the technology and all that. The trick for us is to not feel threatened and to welcome in this young crop of kids who have such a developed sense of art and cinema. It’s a wonderful thing. It’s not quite so much what we used to guide us in this film. It mainly grows out of McQueen unable to accept the truth that he’s a little older and obsolete and the rest of the world reminding him of that and forcing him to deal with it. So you want a nice crop of very young cars who are fast and very contrasted to him. Even Cruz, who’s with him, is very technological and is fast, and is just different. He’s from an older generation, and it’s all gotta point him into learning what he needs to learn. So that’s why they’re there, to really throw him off balance.

Finally, how are cars born in the films?! Is there religion in the Cars universe? Bob Peterson offers a very simple and succinct answer.

Bob: Luckily we get to spend our time thinking about these stories which are very much universal human stories, and if we find ourselves pondering this kind of stuff, then we’re probably not doing our job very well.

North America, get ready to gear up! Cars 3 opens nationwide on June 16th.


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The Incredibles 2 Sequel Happily Moves Through Production

Behind The Scenes, Brad Bird, Interview, sequels, The Incredibles, The Incredibles 2

Posted by Nia • September 12, 2016


It’s insane thinking about how its been 12 years since The Incredibles first premiered in cinemas. For some of us old folk, it only feels like yesterday when we sat in the dark, jaws agape, and inspired as we traveled through dangerous territories following the Parr family. With that being said, fantastic news, as always, regarding one of the most anticipated sequels from Pixar to date! Happy to report, straight from Brad Bird himself, that The Incredibles 2 continues to move smoothly through the production pipeline. From our friends over at Entertainment Weekly, we’ve found that Brad Bird dished some small insights into the upcoming film, careful not to give away any key plot points:

“I don’t like unwrapping presents before Christmas… It’s very actively moving, and we’re excited about it. We’re trying to take it in some new directions. Hopefully it’s the same characters and feel, but going in a new direction. I mean, that’s the trick with a sequel. It’s repeating yourself, without repeating yourself.”

Considering how Hollywood seems to be pushing out superhero films in an assembly line fashion these days, we’re curious to see what new spin on the genre Bird and team will create this time around. We’re also eager to see how the Parr family has been faring all of these years since we’ve last seen them on screen. It’s great to know that despite it being a sequel, Bird is conscious of that aspect and is trying to create a film that will stand alone from the first installment. Back when The Incredibles was released in 2004, Bird helped shape a new form of storytelling both in animation and in the superhero universe; delving into the familial side of superheroes, getting into their psyches, while straying from the cliches that have been notorious with Hollywood’s representation of anyone who wears a cape. Thank God Edna banished those fashion statements long ago. Perhaps this even inspired the darker side of superheros seen in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy? Regardless, 2019 can’t come soon enough.

The Incredibles 2 is scheduled for release on June 21, 2019.


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Finding Dory Press Junket Exclusive

Andrew Stanton, Angus Maclane, Behind The Scenes, Finding Dory, Finding Nemo, Interview

Posted by Nia • June 17, 2016


Last week Upcoming Pixar was invited to a Finding Dory press junket in Beverly Hills. There we got to see the fantastic cast of the film discuss their experiences while working on the project. The room was buzzing with excitement as the cast walked on stage. After watching a screening the night before at the Walt Disney Studios, we were excited to have a few hours set aside to hear about the making of the film and find out more about the new worlds depicted. It was certainly thrilling to get an opportunity to be in the same room as some of the talented folks apart of this film, ask them questions, and hear first hand about their time channelling their characters. The cast in attendance consisted of Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence, Eugene Levy, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Ed O’Neill, and of course, Ellen DeGeneres.



Every cast member on stage contributed something wonderful and added to the story of Dory trying to find her parents. The junket was structured in a way where the audience members were able to ask questions to anyone on stage, which opened up some insightful inquiries. The cast was also very playful during the questions and were quick to bounce back for any comedic opportunities.

Some of our favorite moments: 

  • Ed O’Neill offered some light on his beloved new character Hank, the octopus. One of his major character quirks in Finding Dory was that he’s missing a tentacle and he’s desperately trying to find a way out of the aquarium. He refuses to go back in the ocean and O’Neill offered that reason is because “he had a bad experience in the ocean. We’re guessing that something bit off one of his tentacles.”
  • When asked how the cast prepared for their roles, Ty Burrell mentioned how he had created a distinct voice that he thought would match the character perfectly. He wanted to channel the character like “a whale with a cold” since Bailey looked rather congested. After pitching the idea and voicing a few lines, Andrew Stanton politely insisted on Burrell doing “the whole film in his voice” rather than the fun little voice he had created. Albert Brooks pitched in that he kept his co-star Hayden Rolence, who voiced Nemo, “in a small tank for six months” as inspiration.
  • Ellen discussed that if she were to have any trait from Dory, she’d want to have all of them. “I try to have as many traits as she has: optimism, perseverance, non-judgement, not having any resentment, or holding on to anger, not feeling like a victim; I think that’s why she’s such a lovable character because she really thinks everything is possible. She never for a second thinks that anything is wrong with anybody else or herself. She just keeps swimming.”
  • Albert Brooks’ new philosophy to life was revealed, after he was asked if he solves problems more analytically like Marlin or spontaneously like Dory: “Thank God my memory is great. As you get older, you do forget little things. I’ve come up now with a new philosophy of life: if something is bothering me, I ask myself to check back in 30 minutes. If it’s still bothering me, I deal with it; but a lot of it I don’t remember.”
  • Eugene Levy’s secret to being a great movie dad is “acting.”
  • Destiny and Bailey’s relationship in Finding Dory is more focused on them being like siblings rather than best friends or a married couple. “They’re really very close, but they annoy the heck out of each other. I feel there’s a theme in this film where Destiny can’t see very well, Bailey’s radar is all messed up, and Dory can’t remember but somehow friendship can make you complete. Their relationship in the institute was sort of about that, them trying to take care of each other. It’s creating your own kind of family.”
  • And finally, we even got to ask Ellen a question! “You’ve helped shape Dory’s personality from the very beginning in Finding Nemo, did you have a particular connection with Dory’s desire for belonging and finding her family?” And Ellen’s response: “Well I think everybody is searching for their home, whatever that is, I think home is different for everybody. I understand what a sense of belonging is, I understand when you want to say ‘why am I who I am?’, ‘where did I come from’, and ‘how did I end up where I am?’ Yeah, I can relate to that. I think everybody can.”

In a previous conference that same day, director Andrew Stanton and producer Lindsey Collins shared some fabulous insight on how they were able to successfully revisit the world of Finding Nemo and also some of the obstacles they faced in production.


Some of our favorite moments:

  • It was in 2011, when Andrew Stanton was watching the 3D release of Finding Nemo, that he left “very worried about Dory and couldn’t stop thinking about how she needed closure”, thus sparking the idea to delve into a sequel. Andrew and Lindsay Collins kept that idea to themselves for a while, until they were 100% sure they wanted to re-visit the world and Dory, and perfect the story. “Once you say ‘Finding Anything’ they’re going to want to make it.”
  • Andrew Stanton’s song choices (Beyond The Sea and Unforgettable) in both Finding Nemo and Finding Dory were thematic. It was Robbie Williams singing a version of Beyond The Sea that inspired him to go the route of choosing a classic song but with a twist for the end of his films.
  • Andrew’s new favorite character is Hank because he’s spent the most time with him, in terms of working with O’Neill during the records and dealing with all the technicalities with the character in production. Lindsay Collins loves Bailey and Destiny.
  • A normal character in a Pixar film takes six months, but it took two years to make Hank. “It took six months just to animate the first shot with him. We would still be making the movie right now had we not learned how to do that a little faster.”
  • Stanton’s goal for Dory was to be universal with Dory’s disability, “I was using her disability to represent everybody. It works for anybody, because nobody is perfect. Everybody has a flaw that they maybe mislabel as such. It’s a reflection of my age. I’ve reached middle-age and you start to recognize that I’m not really going to change. I am who I am, and I got to own that. I’ve got to learn to start enjoying that fact; the good and the bad.”
  • The environment in both films have different meanings. In Finding Nemo, the vast ocean that Marlin and Dory traveled through was more like a desert. In the sequel, Andrew decided to have it set near the aquarium because he wanted more of a forest setting he couldn’t explore in the first film. “It’s more like a forest, a fairy tale. In fairy tales things are hidden, secrets are hidden there, and things are discovered in the forest.”

It’s always inspiring listening to the filmmakers and cast talk firsthand about how they were able to collaborate and create such a fantastic film. Many thanks to the cast and crew for their time during the junket, and Disney/Pixar for letting us have the opportunity to be there.

It’s highly recommended that you check out Finding Dory, which is finally released in cinemas today. We hope you’re as excited as we were to check out the film. And always remember… just keep swimming!

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Here’s Your Chance To Ask The Team Behind Finding Dory Questions!

Andrew Stanton, Angus Maclane, Finding Dory, Finding Nemo, Interview

Posted by Nia • June 4, 2016


Upcoming Pixar will have the opportunity to interview the cast, directors, and producer of Finding Dory next week on June 9th. Do you have any questions for directors Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane? What about any inquiries for the cast on your favorite fishy friends? Not only will you have the chance to ask them questions, but you’ll also be featured in a future post. Tweet us your questions or leave us a comment below about what you’d like us to ask them or know about their 17th feature film.

Don’t forget to check out Finding Dory when it splashes into theaters June 17th!

Just… keep… swimming!

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Upcoming Pixar Interviews Peter Sohn For The Good Dinosaur Blu-ray Release

Blu-Ray, Bob Peterson, DVD, Interview, Pete Sohn, The Good Dinosaur, Upcoming Pixar

Posted by Nia • February 19, 2016

It’s easy to get carried away during the excitement of the award season here in Hollywood. Amid the buzz of the upcoming Oscar ceremony, Disney/Pixar held a press day in Los Angeles to celebrate the Blu-ray and Digital HD release of their 16th feature film The Good Dinosaur.

The film will finally be coming to Blu-ray and Digital HD on the 23d of February. I had the opportunity to interview director Peter Sohn about the The Good Dinosaur‘s overall production process and it’s Blu-ray release.

Image via Disney/Pixar

Image via Disney/Pixar

What is your favorite part of the filmmaking process? And more specifically, what’s your favorite part about working on an animated film?

My favorite part has continually been getting to work with all of the amazing artists up at Pixar. On every film there you’re collaborating with a lot of talented and creative people, and for me I live off of it. I can’t tell you how much fun it was, from department to department, to get to know what people love, what people don’t like, and trying to find ways to make the best film that we could. My favorite part of making an animated movie definitely is the world building and the character building. There’s nothing that comes for free in animation. You literally have to build everything from the ground up and in doing that, there are so many “what if” questions and exploration you can do that’s really fun. Once you get down to making a character come to life there’s nothing more exciting.

And what is the most challenging aspect of making an animated film?

I think it has to do with the same thing I’ve always said: trying to tell the best story possible. The story reels in an animated movie have to be very tight because you have to draw every shot out. It’s all going to be made and then worked on, so you don’t want to get that wrong. You really focus on those reels and trying to tell a story within the reel. You’re just constantly putting it up and then taking it down, putting it up and then taking it down again, and that’s very difficult. It’s an important one for animation.

What are some inspirations for you as a storyteller?

I love watching other movies, diving into other art, and being inspired by what other people have done. When it comes down to it, the more I’ve been doing this job, the more living my own life has become a real inspiration. Finding out about other people, other cultures, other traditions; finding out about who I am and how I fit in the world has all been really great.

Were there any westerns that inspired the overall look of The Good Dinosaur?

There were locations that were really an inspiration for the movie. In Shane, Dancing With Wolves, and Heavens Gate there was beautiful cinematography. There was a lot of inspiration that came from stories as well, different types of stories, like E.T. or Black Stallion. But when it came to the true Western inspiration, nothing beat the real thing. We did a lot of research going out to Wyoming, Oregon, and Idaho; that gave us our greatest source of inspiration.

How long did it take to develop the look of The Good Dinosaur? What type of new technology was used in developing the backgrounds, FX, etc?

I can’t give an exact date, but I can tell you this whole film was made in less than two years. When we first started talking about this, one of the things I wanted to try was making nature a real character in this movie. I don’t mean it had eyes or a mouth, but that Arlo could feel it and nature would become an antagonist throughout the film. It was really interesting because if you make nature a character, you really have to focus on it. The Good Dinosaur is a movie about Arlo and how he is growing. It was always about that back and forth between Arlo and nature; how nature tests Arlo and how Arlo learns to love nature. There’s a lot of technology that was involved in bringing that to life. First of all, water is very difficult to do in computer animation and the river would become Arlo’s yellow brick road that he needed to follow back home. So we had a lot of water in this film! There was a lot of new technology to bring that to life and all of the characteristics of water. For example, when Arlo was terrified or scared we really wanted the river to be kind of broiling so that it was almost parallel to what Arlo was going through. When Arlo got closer to nature, closer to Spot, the river would be peaceful and calm. We wanted to create a world that was big in scopes so that we could really dwarf a creature as large as a dinosaur. That meant kind of making the world feel 500 miles bigger in all directions. That was no easy feat. There was new technology built in terms of pulling out geological surveys, and understanding how the river erodes in nature. We also started building tiles. We started building hundreds of square miles of tiles that we would kind of stamp out into the horizon line and from there propagate rocks and trees. The technicians at Pixar came up with math that said, “OK from 400 feet high it will be snow. From 400 feet below it will be this type of tree, and then below that it will be water.” That’s just a really simple way of describing how the artists came up with ways to fill out the world.

What sparked the concept/initial story?

It was really Bob Peterson’s first pitch about a boy and this dog, then flipping it where the boy is the dinosaur and the dog is this human boy. That was the initial pitch and that kind of set everything off. Bob would ask me to come help and soon after that we talked a lot about how this relationship could work, and how the evolution could work. It’s impossible to have humans and dinosaurs together so that opened up the bigger concept about what if the asteroid had missed the earth. So it all kind of stemmed off there and we continued to dig deeper to find the story.

Is there a character you see yourself in the most? Why?

I see myself in Arlo a great deal; in all aspects of my life, from growing up to even making this film. Funny enough, when I was asked to direct The Good Dinosaur I was terrified, I was really scared. With the great support of friends and other directors I felt more confident, and the love for these characters and this movie kept me going through it.

What kind of behind the scenes footage do we except to see on the Blu-ray?

You know what’s great is that you will be able to see some of the footage of our research trips that really inspired the look and the characters of the film. There’s one in particular that’s close to my heart, and it’s the documentary on the McKay’s – this Oregon family that we met and I can’t tell you how much they changed the feeling of the movie and changed my life.

Thanks again to Peter Sohn for his time and for all the folks at Pixar for inspiring us all with The Good Dinosaur. The film is out on Blu-ray and Digital HD on Tuesday, February 23rd. Be sure to check back with us at Upcoming Pixar for a Blu-ray giveaway!

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Pixar President Jim Morris Gives Insight Into The Studio’s Creative Process

2D Animation, 30 Years of Pixar, Animation, Behind The Scenes, Ed Catmull, Interview, Jim Morris, The Good Dinosaur

Posted by Nia • February 9, 2016

Courtesy of Time Out: Hong Kong and Disney/Pixar.

Jim Morris has been president of Pixar Animation Studios since 2005. He came to Pixar after working for a lengthy period at Lucas Digital. While at LucasFilm, he helped make a slew of films including Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, and Star Wars; just to name a few. During a recent interview with Time Out: Hong Kong, Morris gave readers a little glimpse behind the scenes of Pixar and what it takes to create the animated films the studio is most famous for.

One of the main discussion points during the interview was the fact that Pixar, for the first time in the studio’s history, was able to release two feature length films in 2015. According to Morris, Pixar’s original plan was to have at least one original film every other year, followed by a sequel every other year.

“It’s been a bit of a challenge this year. We’re actually finishing films every eight months. We have enough production capability, but unfortunately that is not the issue! The issue is having the stories developed to the right point so we have enough content to make the films. That is the tricky part. It’s worked out fine so far. It does make a crunch with publicity; everyone gets spread a bit thin. But we’re feeling okay, we’re not at the point of regret, yet!”

The most important aspect behind every Pixar film is undoubtedly the story. Each Pixar film has been able to stand alone because of the unique characters that come along with the blend of animation and technology. In the scheme of storytelling at Pixar, the first step to launching a thousand feels is the emotional core behind each story.

“Usually the first thing that comes is an idea that engages the director. I would say there is some emotional core that motivates them to want to tell a story, and later we can infer a theme from that. Inside Out is an easy one to talk about – [director] Pete Docter was wondering why his daughter had changed. It started out as that core idea, but it evolved. It went through so many iterations. After we have that starting point, the characters get forged from that, and then more about the setting and the world gets forged from that.”

Storytelling aside, actually getting the film up on it’s feet after the initial concept is approved is tough enough. Most of the hours put into a film at Pixar exceed Walt Disney’s standards for his classic, 2-D animated films.

“Something most people don’t realize about our films actually is that, even though the computers are doing the animation, our average film takes 20,000 person-weeks to make. And that is probably a little bit more than most traditional, hand-drawn Disney films took. The amount of labour it takes to make a film like this is huge – the textures and scenes are painted by hand. Our joke used to be that we are where high-tech and low-life collide.”

There has been some criticism towards Pixar for it’s lack of women directors. Brenda Chapman has been the only female director to take the helm of a feature film for 2012’s Brave, but due to creative differences she was replaced by Mark Andrews halfway through production. Morris brought up that Pixar is indeed trying to fix this problem and make the company more diverse in regards to more opportunities for female storytellers.

“One thing we’re trying to do is to expand the roster of directors. We’re trying to build the next generation and make the company more diverse, to get a breadth of voices to tell a range of stories. We’re 37 percent female at the moment, and we’d like to be 50 percent. We don’t have a lot of turnover at Pixar though, which makes that somewhat challenging!”

Before concluding the interview, Morris was able to dish that there is some NEW original content in the works for a series of films on top of the already scheduled (and very anticipated) studio line-up.

“We have a bunch of confirmed titles. There’s Finding Dory later this year. We’re working on The Incredibles 2Cars 3 and Toy Story 4. Dan Scanlon, who did Monsters University is working on an original film. Mark Andrews, who directed Brave, is working on one, too. We have a new director called Brian Phee, who is working on a new movie, and we have a few shorts that are in the works. I can’t say much more than that or I’ll get in trouble!”

It’s certainly strange thinking that far into the future about films at Pixar, but exciting to know there is some awesome content brewing at the studio and a new director in the loop. Be sure to check out the rest of the interview with Jim Morris over at Time Out!

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Pixar at the Oscars

Academy Awards, Animation, Inside Out, Interview, John Lasseter, Jonas Rivera, Lava, Michael Giacchino, Pete Docter, Pixar, Sanjay's Super Team, Short Film, The Good Dinosaur, UP

Posted by Nia • January 16, 2016

Congratulations to the talented folks at Pixar for receiving not one but THREE Oscar nominations during Thursday’s announcement. Inside Out was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film and also scored a nomination for Best Original Screenplay; it will be the only animated film competing in that category. Sanjay’s Super Team took home a nod for Best Animated Short Film.


"Sanjay's Super Team" Comes to the Con ? Director Sanjay Patel and producer Nicole Grindle are taking Pixar Animation Studios' new short to San Diego's Comic-Con International next month for its North American premiere and a peek behind the scenes of the production process. The Super Story Behind the Pixar Short "Sanjay's Super Team," slated for Thurs., July 9 at 11 a.m. in the Indigo Ballroom, Hilton Bayfront, reveals the unique inspiration for this incredibly personal film that features superheroes like never before. The short debuts in U.S. theaters in front of Disney-Pixar's "The Good Dinosaur" on Nov. 25, 2015.

Via Disney/Pixar

It was indeed great news hearing that Pixar was nominated for several awards, but it’s also hard not to acknowledge the slight disappointments regarding snubs to both The Good Dinosaur and Lava. In an ideal world, all four films released from the studio would have been nominated for Oscars. They all followed the Pixar standard of challenging both art and technology, paving the way for future animated films. The Good Dinosaur alone was revolutionary in it’s technical aspects and successful blend of animation against hyperrealistic backgrounds. Lava also showcased stunning backgrounds that were brought to life through the use of song; depicting the romance between two volcanoes without dialogue but only through a love ballad. Lava‘s catchy song was clearly absent from the Best Original Song nominees. Also missing from the Best Original Score category was Michael Giacchino’s beautiful work on Inside Out.

In the past, an animated film has even been nominated for Best Picture, such as Pete Docter’s last film Up. If an animated film can be nominated for Best Picture, then it’s director should also be recognized in the Best Director category. Inside Out was incredibly inventive and something we haven’t seen before. It cleverly took us inside the mind of a young girl and created relatable characters out of her emotions… not to mention simultaneously hitting us all with a wave of childhood nostalgia. Docter spent 4+ years working on the film; from writing the screenplay, approving every minute detail most audience members might miss, to even guiding a brilliant team of artists into crafting his vision. That time frame is longer than most live action directors work on a film.

In an interview with Screencrush, Pixarian Kelsey Mann explains why animation directors are just as worthy as notable live action directors in receiving acknowledgement from The Academy:

“From the ground up, directors at Pixar are in charge of everything from the story to the individual blades of grass. We start from nothing. Literally nothing. And it all has to be built from the ground up. And Pete is involved in every decision.”

Slowly audiences (and even The Academy) are beginning to realize that animation isn’t only for children, but it’s an art form entirely of it’s own; crafting stories a thousand times better and more original than most of the live action films released in Hollywood. Here’s hoping that one day an animated film will not only be nominated for Best Picture again, but will win it too.

We will definitely be keeping our fingers crossed for Pixar to take home all of the awards on the February 28th Oscar ceremony.

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Mindy Kaling talks Disgust!

Inside Out, Interview, Poster

Posted by Simoa • March 3, 2015

poster 3People Magazine unveiled the official poster for Inside Out on their snapchat today. The poster features bright colors and Joy (Amy Poehler) in the center, blissfully unaware of the varying degrees of negativity surrounding her. If anyone is unfamiliar with the film’s plot up to this point, the poster is extremely effective at piquing interest.

An onlooker would see that the same filmmakers behind Up are responsible for this new feature, and would wonder at the emotions being displayed. The poster even recalls one element of Up; the balloons. It almost looks like a party that only Joy is happy about, while the others are disgusted, frightened, angry, and sad.

Mindy Kaling, the voice of Disgust, was also interviewed by People for her involvement in the film. Her answers pertaining to the film and the pint sized green queen appear below.

Why were you excited to be a part of this movie?
It’s a Pixar movie!

If you didn’t play Disgust, which emotion would you want to play?
I think I could’ve nailed Outrage.

Which of the voices in your head is the loudest? Which are you encouraging to speak up more?
These days I have been feeling so grateful for what I get to work on. Between Inside Out, The Mindy Project and writing my book, I’m so happy. I know actors who are miserable no matter what they are doing and complain constantly about their jobs, and I just don’t identify with that at all. These are such great jobs to have, and it doesn’t feel like hard work when the material is so good.

Any emotion you think was left out of this movie?
Nope, I think the emotions assembled are a great mix and complement each other really well.

The official poster further indicates that a lot of the humor will probably depend on just how oblivious Joy is to the other four, but to see them complement each other will be a real treat!

Disney Pixar also posted a photo to their instagram page of a recording session, with a clip of Joy who appears to be playing a musical instrument!

What do you think of the new poster and Mindy Kaling’s interview?

Sound off below!



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