Have you ever wondered how a movie plot comes to be? While in San Fransisco for the Cars 3 Event, I got to hear the story behind Cars 3. First things first, this was an extremely interesting story. It was great to hear how each person got involved with the story but even more interesting to hear how the story was developed including how the actors and actresses added their personality and history to their characters.
We entered the room and were introduced to Mike Rich (writer), Bob Peterson (writer), Kiel Murray (writer) and Scott Morse (story supervisor). You may know Mike from several other movies. He was a writer on movies like Secretariat and Finding Forester with over 15 years of writing but Mike had never had the chance to work with Pixar before.
Bob Peterson has been working as a writer for over 20 years with Pixar working on films like Monsters Inc and Finding Nemo but Bob also voiced Doug from UP, Roz from Monsters Inc and Mr. Ray. Come on that’s a lot of talent right there!
Kiel Murray has been at Pixar for some time. She has worked on some of my favorite movies including UP, Inside Out and of course she was invited back to work on Cars 3 after working on Cars.
Scott Morse is the story supervisor for Cars 3 and has done an amazing job in getting the story bits and pieces into one cohesive story.
When did the storyline start? September of 2014 actually. That’s a long time to be working on a story but they wanted perfection. The team had to look at McQueen and decide what could happen next to him. McQueen was a guy at the top of his field, when we left him in Cars 2 he was on the top of his game not just in the Piston Cup but also in racing worldwide. So the writers decided to look at other athletes. They looked at Jeff Gordon who was getting ready to retire, Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. These were athletes at the top of their game who have had an injury or are not performing at the same level as the new guys in their fields. They now have to figure out what do they do next in their life. Do they retire, keep going or decide to go out on their own terms? As Bob Peterson said, “Do you crumple or do you rise up?”
The writers took a lot from an experience they watched happen. Bob and Mike are both big fans of basketball and they drew on Kobe Bryant’s famous 3 am post. This was after he had injured his Achilles and Bryant took to Facebook to ask what do I do now?
The writers took a few research trips. These trips are a big thing at Pixar because living in the material, living in the source of the material, trying to immerse yourself in that world and really understand the emotions and stories and history of what you’re trying to put up on the screen and have truth in the materials is key. They headed to Daytona and sat in the stands. They watched and learned how McQueen’s fans would react. Mike told us about sitting in those stands and seeing some fans that had McQueen shirts on. I can’t tell it better than Bob could though.
But there was a moment the closest I can use as an illustration was Dale Earnhardt Junior. There was a moment at the race when he took the lead and there was this ground swell roar that he had taken the lead. I looked over at Scott and said yeah that’s our guy. That’s our racer, that’s the passion he has.
This resonated the most with me since that’s Charlie’s favorite driver. Junior spent most of last season out of the car due to concussion syndrome. He came back this season and has announced that it’s his last season. Unfortunately for me this came after our trip. I would have loved to ask the guys if Junior really was McQueen!
So they had an idea, McQueen would be facing a new set of drivers that were performing at better levels than him and he would be losing ground. But where to go from there? They had to add some other characters to make McQueen develop more and they added Cruz Ramirez. This spitfire of a trainer/racer would make sure McQueen never forgot that he was the OLD guy now. To make her really her they used two people to add to here character. Louise Smith is a storyboard artist who did the beginning voices for Cruz. These are usually done by employees at Pixar while the actors are being picked and as the story is progressing to make sure they have the right feeling and scenes developed appropriately. In one scene, Cruz is talking to McQueen and the writers realized that this is McQueen’s movie but Cruz needed to shine too. So they changed the animation to show Cruz coming into her own at that moment. To make McQueen realize that those around him have dreams too. And of course Cruz was further developed when Cristela Alonzo added her voice and her background to the character.
Of course as a race mom I had to say my thank you. Having a strong female character in the racing world is important to me. It shows moms like me that we are supported. It shows the young female drivers that they are moving up in the world.
I said thank you for having Cruz but also talked about our little track. We have a small track but at our small track, ranging probably like 30 karts on a weekend and 5 of those females ranging from the newest one is now 5 and all the way up to 21.
Kiel said it best for me:
My daughter doesn’t even think she couldn’t do that because she doesn’t see how male dominated the sport is. Its why would we need to tell a story about a problem that she doesn’t even know exists yet. She would say Oh Girl’s don’t do that or girls can’t do that and I thought it would be really cool to have a girl on the screen.
There’s so much in the story behind Cars 3 but I can’t put it all in here because then you might guess what happens and I can’t let you know that! You have to watch Cars 3 to get the full story behind Cars 3.
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CARS 3 opens in theaters everywhere on June 16th!