Cars 3 is officially a hit taking number one at the box office its opening weekend! This is the family friendly movie that you have to see this summer and if you have kids you will likely have to see a few more times. As a filmmaker and content creator what makes a movie the most special to me is finding out from the makers of the film what drove a lot of the choices and storyline for the film.
Disney and Pixar gave me the exclusive chance to sit down with Cars 3 Director Brian Fee and Producer Kevin Reher. And the interview got all teary! Yep, just like the movie Cars 3 will take you from thrilling to laughter to tears this interview did the same. The touching moments that Brian Fee shared with me about his experience while making this film over the last six years was profound to me. Here’s more on that and inside scoop on the film.
Photo: Louise Bishop/Momstart
Q: I’d like to kick things off with a question about the animation, there’s a scene where they’re coming down the hill and reach the sign, that seems so real. It looks like Max really drove, the grass you can touch. Can you talk about that scene?!
BF: They told us they could do things that they could not otherwise do on the other two films, since they had better technology. They told us they can go wholeheartedly into a sense of realism. They wanted to be able to control how the audience feels but they want you to feel like you can smell the air.
“I remember sitting with the production designer and that was kind of one of the main things I kept saying. I want to make sure you can smell the air. I mean we can’t smell anything, but make me think I can. So we went for a lot of atmosphere, like you’ll see a lot of fog and things that are at a distance are so faded. Just like the atmosphere between you and the thing that’s miles away, we just kind of dove into those things and we can now, because we can do these things.”
“And our movie, being a Cars film, more than maybe other Pixar movies lends itself to that, you kind of have to be careful with other movies, because they’re cartoon characters, and we have talking cars. I don’t know if you can get any more cartoon character than that but we want them to look real, we want the car to look like it’s four thousand pounds.”
Here’s the place in the interview where the tears started free following from Director Brian Fee on down.
Q: What do you and families walk away with, there are so many messages in the film?
BF: ” I originally came at this film and for me it still is the most important part for me personally as a parent, my mother passed away, my father is getting older and I looked at McQueen’s and Doc’s relationship as a father and son relationship. You could see it as a mentor mentee, however people plug into it in their own personal lives. And I have that moment, middle of my life my mom’s passing away and you kind of feel that safety net that you’ve always had.”
“That moment where you get just a little scared that everything you’ve ever known is kind of dropping. But I have two daughters and I realized I’m their safety net, like they look up to me. I’m playing that role for them and it’s kind of erased the fear I had of losing my parents, not that I don’t want to see them go, but it gave me new strength that a sense of purpose in life. So to me I look at McQueen’s on that same transition and that that’s something.”
“You may think you’re losing something, but the best thing is still in front of you, have yet to come. I was trying to communicate, I wanted McQueen to feel that, when he spends most of the film trying to do service to his own career, the thing that he thinks he’s most passionate about. And terrified of losing actually, actually terrified of losing the one thing that brings him the most joy. And then I wanted him to see that there’s helping someone else do it is actually not only just as powerful but can be more powerful.”
KR: “It was the Doc Hudson McQueen relationship and my dad died and I was the car kid, my brother was the sports kid. And he never got to see even Cars One, and so the whole McQueen Doc stuff just slays me.
Photo: Louise Bishop/Momstart
BF: I went to art school and have an illustration degree and my daughter has been drawing these little sketches with her crayons and stuff like that, but their patience is short, to say the least. They would look at professional illustrations in books and stuff and I wanted to demystify that. I wanted them to know, that’s just a person, a person just did that, the only difference between those and their little doodles is that they took longer at it. They went to school and learned how to do it and they spent more time on it. So I set up one of their American Girl dolls and I was going to paint it, I’m going to paint this girl’s portrait and I want them to see all that goes into it and it takes a while, you’ve got to put some time in. After about twenty minutes, they’re gone and I was going to stick it out, I’m going to stick it out, and I’m going to show them that a little perseverance and a little time. So I spent hours on a Saturday spent hours doing this, I didn’t get quite done but I got almost done. I showed them and ah ah and they just went, yeah that’s cool.
I had this moment where I just thought oh if I was going to paint something on a Saturday afternoon I didn’t think it would be an American Girl doll. There’s a lot of things I could do, I mean I don’t have a lot of personal time anymore. And I kind of walked away and that was a failure it didn’t work out the way I wanted it to, But a week later, I come into my older daughter Lucia’s room, she’s eleven now so this would have been several years ago, and she had these papers on the floor and they were her stuffed animals and she had set them up, sorry I can’t tell the story without getting…she set them up and she was drawing their portrait and it was..sorry, pull it together…and in that moment, I felt like that might just have been one of the most important paintings I’d ever done. Well, more important than anything I would have done for myself. So that was the kind of thing I was trying to communicate, I wanted McQueen to feel that, when he spends most of the film trying to do service to his own career, the thing that he thinks he’s most passionate about and terrified of losing actually. Actually terrified of losing the one thing that brings him the most joy and I wanted him to see that helping someone else do it is actually not only just as powerful, but can be more powerful.
Q: Doc had such a presence in the film and of course Paul Newman is no longer with us so I’m curious about the process of how did that come together?
KR: The Newman Foundation was very generous with us. We were given a lot of recordings of open mic that John had recorded during Cars 1 which helped them in this film. We tried to use the same lines.
Q: When did you start working on the movie?
BF: 6 years ago, back in 2011!
Q: Out of curiosity, what were your first cars?
KR: It was a Sixty Four Falcon Futura convertible.
BF: It was a eighty one Oldsmobile, Cutlass Supreme gray.
Q: How do you guys go about choosing the characters?
BF: ” Natalie and I, got two credits on this one I love that. So Natalie Lyon and I worked together and so we needed a really smart actress that. So when Kerry Washington opens her mouth as Natalie Certain, you have to get that she’s smart, accomplished, knows what she’s talking about and no b.s.”
“And you have to get that because you don’t have the time or the screen time to do a backstory for her or how she got there and all kinds of things. Armie Hammer who is the nicest man in the world could channel his inner jerk and he’s so terrific at being sarcastic and everything else and yet if you talk to him in person besides being very handsome he’s super charming and really nice and hey immediately got what that character was going to be based on a character description that we were given.”
KR: “We usually come up with probably three actors that we have to kind of be okay with Plan B or Plan C and then we go to John Lasseter who still approves all casting and we take a picture of the character, who he’s going to be talking to. So Jackson Storm talking to McQueen and we do kind of nonsensical theater. And we have lines from the Lone Ranger or lines from Social Network talking to McQueen, talking to Owen and see how it’s going to play off so that you don’t end up with voices that are too similar. And part of it is there is the aspect of you just want the quality of the voice to match the image, wouldn’t Jackson have a strong voice deeper than a kind of thin- a thin voice, we wanted him to be a powerful car, so there needed to be broadness to his vocal range.”
Cars 3 Official Trailer!
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CARS 3 opens in theaters everywhere on June 16th!
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