14 Things You Didn’t Know About David Lowery’s ‘Pete’s Dragon’
Welcome to day two of We Live Entertainment’s continuing coverage of Pete’s Dragon. For the rest of the week leading up to the film’s release on Friday, August 12, 2016, I will be posting a new article daily about the cast and crew. This is the second article of the week with the first focusing on Oona Laurence and Oakes Fegley. If you are interested in reading that article, it can be found by clicking here. Also, we currently have two reviews for the film on the site, you can read my thoughts here or you can check out Ashley Menzel’s review here. WLE contributor Nicholas Casaletto will also be reviewing the film on Thursday so be sure to check back to read his take.
Director David Lowery is a filmmaker that I only discovered for the first time a few short years ago. I saw Ain’t Them Bodies Saints after I returned from Sundance 2013 and was instantly impressed with Lowery’s visual style. Almost every frame in Pete’s Dragon looks as though it could be paused, screen-shot, and hung in an art museum. I was blown away that a big budget film about a dragon could be so beautiful. And even though Pete’s Dragon is a big budget Disney project, David Lowery somehow makes the film feel as if it is a small and intimate indie. He creates this deep emotional connection between Pete and Elliot that I found to be heartfelt and moving. This film is a magical experience and what makes it even better is Lowrey’s visual appeal mixed with his rich storytelling. Throughout the entire film, I felt like a kid again which oddly enough is something that I rarely happens when I watch films nowadays.
When sitting down with Lowery, we spoke a lot about the film and his filmmaking style. I felt like I learned quite a bit about creating Pete’s Dragon and I thought I would share those things with you. Some of these facts might not be as surprisingly but others I found to be mind-blowing especially considering the nature of the project and what sells tickets nowadays. With that being said, hearing some of these things made me extremely happy because I felt these particular elements where some of the film’s strongest attributes.
14. Lowery struggled with making Karl Urban‘s Gavin into the bad guy because while he loves a good villain, as a filmmaker he often struggles with the idea of a bad person being in his movies.
13. Lowery wanted to cinematographer Bradford Young for Pete’s Dragon because he worked with him on Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, however, Young wasn’t available because he was shooting Selma. He didn’t know who to pick until he found Bojan Bazelli and looked up his body of work and found him to be the perfect choice.
12. There are very few scenes in Pete’s Dragon that use actual studio lighting. Most of the film is shot in natural light.
11. Lowery sees film “first and foremost as a visual medium.” He has his own unique aesthetic where he wants his films to feel as though they can be touched and lived in.
10. Even before meeting with the studio, Lowery decided that the Elliot (the dragon) was going to be furry. There was never a debate to not make him furry.
9. Even though Lowery knew Robert Redford from Sundance and met him before working together on Pete’s Dragon, Lowery found working with Redford to be incredibly “intimidating.” He added that the first day of shooting with Redford was “nerve-wrecking.”
8. The small emotional moments in Pete’s Dragon as well as Lowery’s other films are the moments that he loves the most. He thinks they are incredibly important and was so happy that the studio wants several moments like them in this summer blockbuster.
7. The original screenplay, which took six weeks to write, was written in a way that Lowery thought Disney would want it. It featured an epic ending with lots of fire and action. However, when Lowery handed it in, the producers asked for the script to be revised and be more about the intimate moments between Pete and Elliot rather than action.
6. The second draft of the script is pretty much what was used for the final film.
5. Throughout the film, Robert Redford’s character Meacham tells a lot of stories. These stories are never shown because Lawery appreciates the value of telling of a good story. He strongly believes that there isn’t a need to have visuals that accompany it.
4. The scenes where Elliot’s fur changes to a bright green color was done in a way to showcase that Elliot felt an emotional connection towards Pete and some of the other characters in the film.
3. The casting director auditioned somewhere between 1,500 and 1,800 young boys to play the role of Pete. Lowery looked at about 150 on video. He met only 20 of them in person.
2. Lawery didn’t want to see kids who were trying to perform. He saw exactly what he was looking for in Oakes from the moment he walked through the door. Lawery takes zero credit for Oakes performance in the film and stated that he “didn’t need any direction.”
1. The first scene of the film was the original take. They tried to recreate the scene to make it better but the first take was simply the best they could get.