During my trip, I really learned so much about how a Pixar film is made and I’ve had a great time translating that in my blog for all of you to read. This is, unfortunately, my last The Good Dinosaur post from my press trip but we’re going out with a bang and starting at the beginning of the filmmaking process. As I’ve said before, to make an animated film is no easy feat and it takes hundred and hundreds of creative and talented individuals to bring words to life. It’s a highly complicated and involved task that, beyond the research I spoke about, or design, and writing, Pixar also puts in countless hours of time for animation and visual effects. Pixar really believes in putting in the time to make the process absolutely perfect. You need a script though and that’s where it all begins.
Disclosure: Disney, Pixar, and Disney Junior have sponsored my travel, accommodations, most meals, and activities during this event. All opinions (and fun) in this article here are mine unless noted otherwise.
For The Good Dinosaur (coming out in TWO DAYS, can you believe it?), those words came from Screenwriter, Meg LaFauve. LaFauve was actually working on Inside Out when she was asked to come over and write a completely new script for The Good Dinosaur after some setbacks to the original film concept.
It was an “intimidating” task but very exciting since she had such a short amount of time to put everything together and get it approved by Pete Sohn (Director) and John Lasseter, himself.
The writing process begins with Pete Sohn (the director), Meg, Kelsey Mann (story supervisor), the story lead, and the producer. They’ll all get together and talk about where they want the film to go.
It’s a process of lots of charting as they call it. Making sure the character’s are progressing in their relationships and things haven’t flatlined. So they created a color coated system and if there were too many red post-it notes (let’s say those are the intense scenes) or blue notes (the emotional scenes) next to each other they knew they had to go back and change something.
“It’s Pete’s movie really. And just like any artist, I have to own it just enough. I have to feel it so that I can express it on the page. To find the characters, find the scene, find the behavior, find the point of view but ultimately, I have to let it go back to Pete because it’s his vision and phonetic.” – Meg LaFauve, Screenwriter, The Good Dinosaur.
Talking to Mann and LaFauve was super special because we were in the actual room where the film was made. Normally, press interviews take place in a regular conference room but before its transformation, the room we were in was a regular plain conference room. Kelsey Mann is the Story Supervisor for The Good Dinosaur and he decided very early on in the production of the film that things needed to change. With modern technology and a program, Pixar uses called, “Pitch Doctor”, came a great way to storyboard. Artists could draw directly onto the computer screen just as they would paper and they’d be able to erase and scale and flip their drawing – do practically anything they wanted to do with it. Whereas with paper, if the artist drew something too small they’d have to start all over. The problem was that everyone would get the script then retreat to their offices to work. With paper they could go down to the Atrium, or garden, or someone else’s office – the choices were limitless, but with a computer everyone was stuck to their desk and in turn Mann felt like they lost ‘something’ over the years. The creative times of bouncing ideas off another person and jotting things down on a whim was practically gone.
Pixar needed to go back to when Walt Disney was alive and storyboard as they did. Walls covered in ideas and drawings with a pitch-stick talking to the other artists about what was happening in each scene.
“Pete is so open and warm and he’s just like, “Tear down the walls, we’ll all work together!” – Kelsey Mann, Story Supervisor, The Good Dinosaur on creating a working atmosphere.
So they mixed the old days with the new to create the room you see above. A room with multiple tables put together with computers lined up and everyone would work together in the same room. There is a main computer at the end (where you see Mann standing), that computer is linked to a big TV so if they wanted to talk about something, in particular, everyone could just look up instead of huddling around the computer screen.
And this was it. This was the room where all of the heart and love of the film was created. This was the room where anyone could say and suggest anything and this was the room where I sat in awe of everything around me.
One of the fun parts of the interview was when Mann showed us how a scene would get pitched on the big screen. With Sophie The Giraffe in hand, Mann had a little fun making the sound effects along with the black and white photo strips.
And then we were taught how to draw Arlo! How fun, right? I think I did a pretty good job, what do you think?
Other Good Dinosaur Behind the Scenes
- Research – Where Pixar did research for the film.
- Animation – Developing the characters with design and animation.
- Photography, Effects, & Real Life sets – How Pixar developed the sets, created the perfect lighting/photography, and the special effects.
Will you be taking your family to see The Good Dinosaur this weekend?
The Good Dinosaur opens in theaters on November 25th!