Interview with The Road to Pixar crew

Road to Pixar Pizza Planet Truck Interview

If you haven’t heard of the team of college students who built an actual replica of the famed Pizza Planet truck, you need to. The Pizza Planet truck drove into our “Easter egg hunting eyes” in Pixar’s first movie Toy Story, and has since gone on to appear in every Pixar movie (with the exception of The Incredibles) – and yes, it was even mentioned that the truck will appear in the upcoming release, Brave (June 22, 2012).

When we first heard that the team was going to rebuild the truck, we thought, “what a great idea”. When we heard they were also going to rebuild the truck AND plan a road trip that would eventually take them to the doorstep of Pixar Animation Studios (April 22 – 27 2012), we thought, “well that’s plain genius”. At this point, we knew we had to get an interview with the team and find out a little more back story on the project to pass along to our readers. Please enjoy our question and answer session with the team at The Road to Pixar.

Q1 – Origins

This is an amazing idea – how did this first come to be and how do you get the ball rolling on this with day jobs and college tuition (we’ve all been there)?

Approximately two years ago some friends and I made a pair of “Pop Culture Sculptures” based on My Neighbor Totoro and the Peanuts comic strips. We displayed them primarily in Seal Beach at a local art gallery. It was quite the conversation starter and it was exciting to see how people would react to something they’ve only seen in cartoon form in a three-dimensional state. We thought that we should have a sort of finale, something big and we wracked our brains for something that everyone would recognize, and (as far as we knew) hadn’t been done. Then it hit me, let’s make the Pizza Planet Truck since most of us grew up with Toy Story and the rest of the Pixar film canon and it was right around the time when Toy Story 3 came out. From there it snowballed from a smaller “Let’s drive around town” idea to a much bigger road trip.

The whole crew has been working extra hours at their various jobs and saving up for project expenses. We even have had a few folks kindly donate to the project online.

Q2 – Truck-Age

Old school Toyota trucks aren’t just lying around – how long did it take the team to find one?

Marco: It took us about a year of searching. The funny thing with Toyota trucks — they’re very hard to kill. We kept driving around and seeing great trucks roll by but they were usually being used as workhorses and such. We hopped on Craigslist and searched for a few trucks with automatic transmission, and we soon realized that it would be cheaper (and more authentic to the films) to seek out a truck with manual transmission. In all, we test drove three trucks. The first two had an automatic transmission and were much more expensive than our final truck.

Q3 – Time, Time, Time

You mention on the About page on your website that you’ve put in a countless number of hours in research and labor – how many hours would you estimate you’ve spent in total to date?

I don’t even want to think about how much time we’ve spent studying Blu-ray screencaps from the film, or watching the films. It got to the point where we had to step back and think about something else since we’re so obsessed with getting the detail right.

Q4 – Rust-Eze

It was mentioned on the site that the team is still trying to figure out how to weather the paint of the truck – any updates?

We haven’t washed the truck in about a month and we plan on making a few “dirt stops” on the way so we can get that authentic worn-in look.

Q5 – Clown Car

It’s a relatively small truck – how is everyone going to fit in there?

We’ll be driving up with two vehicles (including the truck). Our other car is a purple Scion xB which we’ve nicknamed, “The Purple Toaster”.

Q6 – Rewarding

What has been the biggest reward to date throughout this whole process?

The response to the truck in person and online has been amazing. With people slowing down on the freeway to snap a picture or even just giving us a thumbs up as we pass on the street, we can tell that people recognize it and love the final product.

On Monday we met up with Omar, who contacted us through Twitter, and his family at a pizza place in Cupertino and had a wonderful time entertaining his kids. Both of them were obviously born and raised on Pixar films. The smiles on their faces as they played inside the cab with toys they had brought from home, made our day. We can’t even describe how happy it made us to have experienced that.

Q7 – Anticipation

Of the stops that you have planned so far, which location is the team’s most anticipated and why?

Besides Pixar, San Francisco, and the Bay Area as a whole since it is a tourist hub and you can’t throw a rock without hitting some kind of historical or just plain neat location.

Q8 – Filming

Since you’re going to have cameras filing the journey – what cameras are you going to be using and what software will you edit it with?

We’ll be shooting with a variety of cameras, ranging from the Canon 7D, to a smaller Canon Vixia, and several GoPros mounted to the vehicles.

We will be splitting editing between Final Cut Pro and Avid. Depending on our internet connection on the road we may use iMovie to throw together some clips from the week.

Q9 – After The Ride

Has the team decided what they will do with the truck after the trip?

We plan on keeping the truck, and depending on budget and schedule we may take another trip eventually. Walt Disney World? (With its real-life Pizza Planet?) or Pixar Canada?

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