The most fascinating thing about being invited to sit down with people who work on a film is hearing from them how the movie came about. Getting that inside scoop straight from the source is (for this Disney geek) an amazing experience. After meeting with various team members from Disney’s Planes, not only do I feel like an “expert” on the movie, but the movie will forever hold a special place in my heart.
Among the fascinating people we had the honor of meeting while in LA last month were directors Klay Hall and Traci Balthazor-Flynn. Chatting with them after watching the movie was exciting because we had a chance to really see their passion for the project, and they were able to experience our excitement for the movie. Plus they were just really cool to talk to!
I learned a lot about the movie from Klay and Traci, but there are 5 things about the movie that really stand out in my mind. Without giving away any plot lines, here are 5 fun facts about Disney’s Planes that make it even more remarkable than first glance.
Coming to Theaters August 9, 2013
Those who follow such things may recall that Planes was not on the original line up of theater releases from Disney in 2013, and there is good reason for that. Planes was created at Disney Toon Studios with the intention of being a straight-to-DVD release. BUT the movie tested so well, it was bumped to a theatrical release. (In case you were wondering, yes. It is that good.) Oh and by the way, Planes 2 is already in the works.
Rochelle xs 8
The beautiful Rochelle (voiced by Juliette Lewis Dreyfus in the U.S.) is sure to be one of my daughter’s favorite planes because she is pink, but girls from seven other countries may have other reason to love this character. For the first time in Disney history, a main character from the movie was swapped eight times for a different appearance and a different vocal track. She always has the same body type, but her “skin” is different. In the U.S. Rochelle is a French Canadian plane, but in seven countries she is different. Creating eight versions of Rochelle (with different names too) meant that each scene she is in also had to be created eight times. A successful challenge that will give the movie a local feel in other territories. Pretty cool.
The Navy Influence
When Disney inserts realistic themes into a film, the most important thing is for them to be accurate — Disney takes authenticity very serious. The Navy’s influence in Planes was so important that two Navy Commanders were invited to screen an early version of the film and offer advice. And both Klay and Traci flew out to the USS Carl Vinson for a carrier landing (how awesome!) to spend a few days with the men and women onboard to experience procedures first hand. From scenes aboard a carrier to jargon used in reference to missions, Planes is heavily influenced by our Navy.
Famous Movie References
The most obvious movie reference is to Top Gun. With Anthony Edwards and Val Kilmer voicing Bravo and Echo, the references are outright overt and wonderful. (Seriously, this girl from the ’80s was so excited when I heard those familiar voices!) But there are subtle references as well. Klay was impressed when I inquired about a reference to Rudy and mentioned that the writer would be proud I noticed it. (I won’t give it away, but look for it.) As with many of Disney’s top movies what families will love most about Planes is that the plot, humor and characters appeal to both children and adults.
Creating The World Of Planes
Although Planes is inspired by the world of Cars, bringing planes to life created an entirely new challenges for the team. One of the most notable challenges is the positioning of propellers. Many of the planes, including Dusty, are prop planes with a propeller attached to their nose. In order to bring these planes to life, one has to see their eyes, which means propellers had to be positioned at all times in a way that they are not blocking the face of the planes. Additionally, many of the planes are “tail draggers,” which means their nose end is pointed toward the sky. So in order for the audience to stay level with the plane, animators had to come up with creative camera angles. Finally, look for aerial inspiration in propeller shaped cyprus trees, a Planes version of the Statue of Liberty and a piston skull and wrench crossbones for the “Jolly Wrenches Squandron.”