Last week, Nuke the Fridge were invited to a special press event for Disney’s “Planes: Fire & Rescue.” Since the film hits Blu-ray on Nov.4, Disney allowed us to go a bit behind-the-scenes as they showed us what it took to make this awesome family film.
Before I even walked into the building, I knew I was at the right place when I seen the doors and windows covered in Planes characters. I open the doors and all of a sudden, I felt like I was walking on the set of “Planes: Fire & Rescue.” There were tree trunks up to the ceiling, the characters of the film all over the place, it was really impressive.
After breakfast provided to us by Disneytoon Studios’ great staff, we got to go watch a private screening of the exclusive short “Vitaminamulch: Air Specatcular,” which you can only get when you buy “Planes: Fire & Rescue.” Director of the short, Klay Hall who also directed the first “Planes” film, presented the short, which was pretty funny and is a great extra for the kids.
Next we got to meet writer Jeffery M. Howard and director of creative development Paul Gerard, who took us through the research process for the film. The research for this film started about 4 years ago! The crew went out and researched places like Hemet, Yosemite and Yellowstone where they spent months trying to get every little detail of the scenery and even went to the fire rescue hangers to see exactly how the planes work, what it’s like being a firefighter and the process the pilots have to go through to fight these fires. Did you know that there are over 6,500 forest fires a year?…I didn’t either. You just hear about the big ones, which is actually a line used in the film. Howard and Gerard did an amazing job with this film and it definitely shows when you watch the film.
Our next visit was to look at the art of the film, which art director Toby Wilson explained the conceptual art process. What Wilson contributed to the film was from things like character designs, settings, effects, and lighting. Another fact about the film, Piston Peak consists of 2.5 million tress! Like snowflakes, not one tree in Piston Peak is the same. Wilson went into details about how they came up with the tree bark which is a mix of tire tread and tree bark. Something you may not have noticed at first glance. Little details like that are all over the film, so keep your eyes open! Wilson also explained that when he first started the character concepts, that the team had a few actors in mind to play the roles of the characters. From there, they went through dozens of different character designs. Things like what kind of person would drive the type of vehicle and what the vehicles are used for, played a factor in how the characters would look like. I asked Wilson which character went through the most conceptual designs, he revealed that the locomotive (which you only get to see for like 3 minutes of the film), was the hardest, simply because executive producer John Lasseter is a train enthusiast and it had to be done right.
The next stop was with Jason Henkel, the head of casting. Not only did Henkel take us through the casting process, he had us learn by having us all go into the booth and doing a line or two from the script. Let me just tell you that it’s a lot harder than it looks. We would have to say the line more than a couple of times to get it right and it was even a bigger challenge when you realize that everyone in the room is looking at you. Nevertheless, it was definitely a lot of fun and we all got some laughs out of it. Henkel explained to us that the actors would be in the booth hours at a time just for a couple of scenes because they would have to deliver a line in several different ways, to see which works best for the character. Henkel did a great job at casting the actors. The cast of the film includes names such as Dane Cook, Julie Bowen, Ed Harris, Cedric the Entertainer, Hal Holbrook, and even Curtis Armstrong, which was my favorite. The list of names just pile up. Below is the voiceover I did for both the huge male plane and the little female plane. Yes…I actually played a female plane.
After lunch, we all got to do interviews with the creators of the film. The interviews will come later, so stay tuned! The event was an amazing experience and definitely something that I will never forget. Remember to get “Planes: Fire & Rescue” on blu-ray Nov.4!
Here are some more images from the event courtesy of Disney: