Why People Love Pixar Shorts and the Cars Franchise.
Last Saturday afternoon, I attended the Cars 3 press conference in Anaheim, California. The event was held at the Anaheim Convention Center which just so happens to be located right across the street from Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure. My day began with an inside look at how Pixar’s newest short LOU came to life. This was a 20-minute presentation that was informative and eye opening. The presentation featured Dave Mullins, the director of LOU as well as producer Dana Murray.
As someone who loves and appreciates animation as an art form, it was so interesting to learn about how this short film was brought to life. Since 1995, short films have become such a big part of Pixar’s history. Their shorts are almost as well known and loved as their feature length films. It was fascinating seeing how long it takes to create a 6-minute short film and all the changes that occurred prior to the final concept being brought to life. There were several different character designs for the character of LOU and seeing all the different designs showcases just how difficult an animators job can be.
The storyboard designs are a big part of the animation process. Mullins and Murray showed us several different designs of the character of LOU as well as the children who are featured in the short. They broke down each design and how the team decided which design they ultimately went with and why. The film even has some special cameo appearances from characters that have appeared in Finding Dory and Inside Out including the main boy in LOU who is one of the kids in the classroom in Inside Out.
You can see during this presentation just how much love, care, and attention to detail went into making LOU. The short 6-minute film wasn’t just thrown together but rather something that took a lot of time and effort to bring to life. Whenever I attend a presentation like this, you can always tell how much the people involved love their job. You can feel the passion in the air. This reason along is why Pixar shorts are so widely loved and praised by critics and audiences alike. I think a lot of the time I look forward to seeing the shorts as much as I do the feature film. There is this real element of surprise that comes with the short film because you never hear much about it prior to seeing the film it is attached to. It won’t be surprising when LOU gets nominated for an Oscar.
After the LOU presentation was over, we headed downstairs for a two part press conference that featured a lot of the cast and crew of Cars 3 including Owen Wilson and Cristela Alonzo. Each conference ran about 20 minutes in length and was full of information that most CARS fans would go crazy to learn about. One of the first questions brought up by the moderator Ray Evernham was “Why do you think the Cars world and these Cars characters have resonated with moviegoers for over a decade now?
I think this was a good way to kick off the conference because while multiple Pixar films are getting sequels and prequels, outside of the Toy Story franchise, Cars is the only other Pixar franchise that currently has two sequels.
Brian Fee responded to the question saying, “I think it’s the characters. I think there’s an appeal and there’s a realism. I think people relate to the characters. I think, when you come to walk away from a movie, if it meant anything to you, if you cared at all, it’s probably because you related to the characters and the lives and what they were going through and you can see a little bit of yourself and people that you know. I think at the end of that day, that’s what we take away.”
Owen Wilson chimed in and said “I think that it’s also the animators. They did a pretty good job. I know when they were first animating the cars before they figured out what they were going to do the eyes and stuff. There is something kind of human or inviting about the expressions of the cars. I think that helps to kind of make the cars more relatable and life like to people. I think that’s a big part of it. And the voices. We’ve got these great voice cast.”
While I agree with what Brian and Owen said about the film, I think what really struck a cord with me about this latest entry was the relationship between Cruz and Lightning. I loved the whole old vs new story but also the message of believing in one’s self and following your dream. I also must mention that it was refreshing to finally have a strong female voice present in the cars universe. I think these relationships and what they say to the audience is what Pixar does best.
Cristela Alonzo also spoke about this topic. “What I like about this story and what I think I loved about Pixar creating this world in Cars 3 is that you actually see. We tend to forget that it really is about skill. We don’t really reference that she is a girl. We don’t reference that she’s a female driver. We actually talk about how good she is and we see it in the story. It’s one of those lessons that we tend to forget about, that it’s not about a boy or a girl doing something. It’s about the best person doing the best that they can. I think that’s such a great way to get a story about female empowerment, by reminding everybody that we’re all pretty much alike and we’re all the same. If you work hard and you have the skill, whoever is the best will win.”
Needless to say, I pretty much agree with everything that Alonzo had to say. I believe the story of Cars 3 is really all about pushing yourself to be the best person you can be. It doesn’t need to be about skin color or gender but rather a universal message about being a good person with drive and passion.
Disney Pixar’s Cars 3 is now playing in theaters everywhere.