Big Hero 6 flat out ROCKS. I’m a fan, obviously. It takes MARVEL and Disney Animation and mashes it together. Why wouldn’t I like it? Head on over to my earlier post if you want yo get more info on the concept art and research. Right now I want you to hear from the directors themselves about this passion project. These guys rock on all levels. In fact, I have interviewed Don Hall before. Fantastic guy and inhumanly talented.
Q: How did you get on this project?
DON: So I was finishing up “Winnie the Pooh”, started thinking about my next project and John Lassiter, you know, he always asks the Directors to start with, what are you passionate about? I started thinking about it and as a kid I loved Disney Animation. Obviously, that’s what brought me here, but I also loved Marvel Comics and it’s really where I learned to draw and tell stories and I’m not unique by the way. I mean, the entire Studio pretty much has that same story. I just happened to be the guy who brought it to the forefront.
I pitched John that idea and he got super excited and said go find something. It was that simple. It was a 5 minute conversation. I just made lists of stuff that I thought would be cool and I came across “Big Hero 6” having never read the Comic, I just thought it, I liked the title, you know. I saw it on their website. I researched it further and it was a Japanese Super Hero team. I thought that that was cool. I read the Comics and it’s like I thought the tone was appropriate. It was light hearted, the Characters are fun. They had goofy names. You could tell the Creators just loved Japanese Pop Culture, and that’s what they were trying to infuse into the Super Hero story. Which we did too. I mean, we love Japanese Pop Culture as well, but not only that,you could see that there could be a really emotional story. Most important, you could see there could be an emotional story. This 14 year old Super Genius who loses his Brother and this Robot who becomes his Surrogate Big Brother. I pitched it along with about 5 or 6 other ideas to John and this is one he gravitated towards and said go.
CHRIS: I remember so vividly the day that Don first pitched Big Hero 6 to myself and the other Directors at Disney. When he talked about this and at that stage, you’re not pitching the whole story. You’re pitching just a seed of an idea and when he talked about this Main Character, who was gonna lose his Brother, was gonna be left with his Creation, this Surrogate older Brother, it was so powerful, and I thought Man, that’s great. I really hope that will be that John would respond to and Greenlight. Because for John, emotion is everything. You know what I mean, like it has to be funny, it has to be exciting, and you have to have thrilling action scenes. But if it doesn’t have that core emotion, then you’ve failed.
So I saw it in this story and really, I feel like the last 3 and a half years has been about realizing that potential that Don laid out in that pitch. I remember where it was in the wall, I just remember really responding to it. So I was then thrilled when a year or so later, Don asked me to join him.
Q: Whose idea was it to get Stan Lee into the Movie?
CHRIS: Well you knew there would be something, right like at least..
DON: Yeah, we had a desire to do that. I have to say though it, we kind of back burnered it. I mean, we pushed this about as far as you could push, as far as right up to the deadline. Like when you say it’s ripped out of our hands, I mean, it was really ripped out of our hands. We both went to go see “Guardians of the Galaxy” , I think it was August when it came out. By this point, the Film was animated and we’re finishing it up, doing some stuff, and we both had a very similar reaction when we came in on Monday morning. It was sort of panic cause it was like Oh My God, nobody left the Theatre.
We stayed for the entire “Guardians of the Galaxy” and everybody stayed through the Credits for the Howard the Duck scene. We weren’t doing that. We didn’t have one. So we both came in on Monday morning a little panicked. We just had a quick conversation. I think we always thought that it would be funny to do something with Fred and his Dad. That felt like kind of areas that we hadn’t explored yet. Chris went away and Storyboarded and wrote that little tag, and came up with the Underwear call back. We pulled our Producer in, who at this point was there’s hardly, I don’t think there’s anybody, no Animators left on the Show.
We need a little money for this. Can you finagle something and so he had a couple of Car Washes and put together some– And uh, we grabbed some people and the most amazing thing about this sequence is we kept it from the Crew. We took just essential personnel. We had I think a Team of maybe 20 people. Sworn to secrecy. We all had Code names. There was like, it was on its own Server, like so that people couldn’t snoop around and find it and we actually managed to pull that off. We actually managed to keep it a secret from the Crew until the Wrap Party. They didn’t know and it was awesome.
CHRIS: We always had the Stan Lee and the Painting that we passed by. That was a given. That was gonna be in there. But yeah, it wasn’t until very late in the game that we decided we needed to do more. It was really great and it meant that we, f ever so briefly got to meet and work with Stan Lee.
DON: Bask in the glory.
Q: Big Hero 6 up for an Academy Award, Best Feature Film. How has working on this been different from anything else you’ve ever worked on, to come to this point?
DON: Well for me, it really does. It just reaches back into those Childhood loves and it– I mean, it sounds trite but it is sort of a dream come true, to be able to do a Movie like this. Then to have it be recognized by people. I mean, that’s sort of the icing on the Cake. We’re thrilled! Especially considering the Field of other Nominees. There’s a lot of Animated Films this year and they’re all really, really good. It’s an incredible feeling.
CHRIS: We have both worked at Disney Animation for about 20 years and I’ve worked on a lot of Movies and every story’s hard. You know, it’s just the way it is. They’re meant to me. If you’re gonna do something original, then it’s gonna be hard. This one I think we would agree was the most challenging story we’ve ever worked on. I think there’s a lot of disparate elements that we brought together and had to make sense together. It was just really ambitious. I think the size of the number of Characters, the size of the world, technically, it was incredibly challenging. But I think there was also a choice made form the very beginning that there, we were gonna attempt to reach a depth of emotion with this Film that was gonna be pretty deep. We knew that was the bar we were aiming for,and we had to achieve that or again, we wouldn’t have done our jobs. I think that we managed it and again, it’s not process, it’s not Don and I and a Crew that works with us. We work with hundreds of really talented Artists who are so invested and they give everything they have, and they give years of their Creative lives to this one thing. So we achieved it with them and I’m really proud of what ultimately came together.
My heart loves this film. So do my children. I’ll be rooting for it at the Oscars and if I were a betting woman I’d lay down for a Big Hero 6 win!
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***Disclosure: I attended #BigHero6Bloggers Event My flight, lodgings, and expenses were covered by Disney All opinions are 100% mine. ***