Today is the day — Pixar’s Onward is in theaters.
This past weekend we were able to sit and chat with Onward, director Dan Scanlon in his hometown of Clawson, Michigan. He shared numerous insights into the film, including one item that we were extremely excited about — a Quests of Yore game is coming soon. While our chat took place before the theatrical release of the film, we had seen the movie a few times, and there may be spoilers within the post, be aware in case you haven’t yet seen the film.
Our chat began in the restaurant, Three Cats Cafe, formally the Clawson theater. The Clawson theater was renovated into the restaurant years ago but was a quaint city theater and a popular spot for famed screenwriting guru, Robert McKee. Scanlon (who took McKee’s story seminar class) noted, “In the middle of his course, McKee said ‘everything I learned about movies, I learned by sneaking into a small theater in a small town and watched all these great foreign films,’ and it was the Clawson theater — this theater. Afterward, I said, ‘I’m from Clawson,’ and Robert said that this theater means everything to him.”
Interestingly enough, Scanlon also mentioned, “everyone takes [McKee’s] class — everyone at Pixar took that class from the very beginning and learned about screenwriting from it.” We found that to be such a great connection, not only for Dan himself having a personal connection but for aspiring filmmakers who would like to learn more about classes that Pixarians and other filmmakers focus on.
ORIGINAL SONG INSIGHTS
As we continued our chat, we discussed the process of selecting Brandi Carlile to write and sing, Carried me with You, the original song featured in Onward. Scanlon praised his producer, Kori Rae, who wanted an original song in the film. While the musical search was on, Scanlon noted he was looking for, “a singer/songwriter and not a band.” When Dan was presented with music from Brandi Carlile, he stated, “I fell in love immediately. Her songs are so clearly written from the heart.”
Once Brandi Carlile had written and recorded Carried me with You, Dan shared, “The first time I heard it, I was crying and blown away. It is everything — the point of the movie wrapped up. It even takes it a little further, which is ‘don’t just thank the people who went above and beyond, be that person to someone else,’ and the song sums that up beautifully.”
You can listen to the song embedded below or directly on the DisneyMusicVEVO YouTube channel.
QUESTS OF YORE GAME
It’s funny, we often discuss and dream about what ‘real-life’ objects from Pixar films could be made for fans to enjoy at home. After watching Onward, we had our fingers crossed that a Quests of Yore game would soon be available. Well, during our chat Dan Scanlon excitedly shared, “we’re excited because the actual Quests of Yore game is coming out. It was a little delayed, so it’s going to be a little after the fact (release of the film), but it goes deeper into the world and is still funny.”
Dan also noted that the age range for the upcoming game will allow for young kids who don’t know much about wizardry play and have a great time, but the game also allows room to grow so adult fans of the role-playing-dice-game genre can play it on a more grander scale (similar to Dungeons and Dragons or Magic the Gathering games).
We were also thrilled to hear that two of our favorite story artists were some of the creative forces behind the upcoming Quests of Yore game — Louise Smythe and Austin Madison. Both artists have such talent and humor (and have a deep background in board-and-fantasy gaming) that we cannot wait to get our hands on this incredible game. As soon as we hear of the release date, we’ll be sure to update.
Have you noticed that Barley has a cast of his left arm? We were curious about the character design and asked Dan if there was a story behind the cast which he shared, “what I love about it, as we were designing him, I said ‘put a cast on him,’ because anybody who is 19 and doesn’t play sports and has a broken arm is probably up to no good.”
One of the great things about Pixar is story is always key, and yet, there doesn’t have to be a story around every detail. If the filmmaker’s added additional scenes of how Barley broke his arm, it could have distracted the flow of the film. This is another excellent example of how the character design can showcase so much personality without adding to the storyline of the film, you can look at Barley and know what kind of person he is.
BLAZEY’S ORIGINAL NAME
If you happen to follow director Dan Scanlon on twitter, you know that he absolutely adores his dog, Carol. In fact, Carol was the inspiration behind Archie the Scare Pig from Monsters University (also directed by Dan Scanlon). Well, in concept art we noticed that Blazey was originally named Zarol. When we asked Dan about the name change his shared that the team decided to change the pet dragon to Blazey when the name Zarol was hard to understand.
EMOTIONAL AUDIO RECORDING – SPOILER
As our chat with Dan Scanlon came to an end, he shared a fun fact with us about an emotional recording session between two of the actors. While we will not share which actors or characters (yet), this could potentially be a spoiler if you haven’t watched the film.
There is a scene in the film that the filmmakers decided to write and record some dialogue for, but you never hear the conversation fully in the movie. Dan shared that they recorded it, “just in case they needed it at Skywalker, just in case the scene felt like something was missing – and now, I don’t want anyone to hear it, because you shouldn’t. It’ll never be anywhere.”
Dan teased that the recording session was very emotional and that only the two actors (besides the filmmakers) know what it is.
Speaking of emotion, Dan then spoke of his relationship between his brother and how they have always been close, but now the film has bonded them even closer. “That’s the other thing about the movie, it’s about the people who are here. You think the movie is asking what if you could spend the day with someone you lost, what would you say that you didn’t have the chance, well you can’t get that, so say it to the people who are here now. Don’t hold back. Now my brother and I are broken (laughs), and all we talk about are our feelings and love.” We absolutely love that.
Pixar’s Onward is in theaters now. Be sure to share your thoughts with other Pixar fans in the Pixar Post Forum.