Director Lee Unkrich and Producer Darla K. Anderson took on WonderCon this Saturday to promote Toy Story 3, presenting new trailers and exclusive clips from the film to a packed audience.
Lee Unkrich announced that the film has 4 weeks left in production until its completion. At Pixar, the writing process is important, and Toy Story 3 was no exception: the team spent 2 and a half years of storyboarding and writing with Michael Arndt (writer of Little Miss Sunshine).
It is now 4 years since John Lasseter, Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton, Bob Peterson, Darla K. Anderson, and Lee Unkrich took a trip to a cabin in the north of California and spent 2 days working on the story that was to become Pixar’s 11th feature film.
As we have come to expect from Pixar panels, they injected a little fun into the proceedings. Some of the film’s main cast members were planted in the auditorium, posing as excited audience members chosen to read the script. John Ratzenberger (Hamm the Piggy Bank), Jeff Garlin (Buttercup the Unicorn), Kristen Schaal (Trixie the Dinosaur), and Toby filling in for Timothy Dalton (Mr Pricklepants the Hedgehog) joined Lee Unkrich at the lectern to read a scene from the film live on stage. After fielding questions from the audience, an exclusive, never-seen-before clip from the film was screened.
During the press conference, John Ratzenberger and Jeff Garlin both talked about their connection with the film. Jeff said that he found the film wonderful and funny, but more than anything, completely moving. Both agreed that the directors do all of the heavy lifting and that all they need to do when voice acting for Pixar is to read, listen, and try to give the directors what they want. John added that, despite having done 11 films for Pixar, he still finds himself emotionally invested in every character, and feels like he is a part of the story world.
Lee Unkrich discussed some of their key concerns in making Toy Story 3. This included getting around the tone of acceptance and sense of finality with which Toy Story 2 ended. Although the Woody and Buzz had made their peace with the fact that Andy would grow up and leave someday; just as a parent knows their kid will go off to college one day but is devastated when that day rolls around, the characters still have challenges to overcome.
Another challenge for the filmmakers included finding ways to make the human characters in the film more visually pleasing. Andy, who is now 18 years old and leaving for college, is a key character. Lee said that they worked very hard to stay within the design aesthetic from Toy Story, but to create humans that were sophisticated, subtle, believable and – above all else – appealing.
Despite the gap between sequels, Lee, Darla, and John are all confident that Toy Story 3 will maintain its audience. People who were kids at the time of Toy Story’s release have now grown up. The youngest are graduating from high school, and many have gone through college and are starting their own families. Lee says that they have found that interest in the film is supercharged due to this nostalgia factor. Jeff added that the film will hit parents who remember taking their kids to see Toy Story and have since sent their own children to college.
Toy Story 3 is released in the USA on 18th June, and will reach UK screens on 23rd July 2010.
[Image from OWF, photos by me.]