Flying away to the top

Flying away to the top

Since joining Pixar Animation Studios in 1990, where he began by animating and directing television commercials, Academy Award-nominated film-maker Pete Docter has enjoyed a prestigious career as one of the leading creative minds in the field. From supervising animator on the benchmark computer-generated feature Toy Story, to directing the global hit Monsters, Inc., Docter continues to bring his touch to every project on which he works. He is the director and the co-screenwriter of Disney-Pixar’s Up, which recently released in India.

Excerpts from an interview

How did Up happen?
Bob Peterson (co-writer, co-director) and I came up with this concept of a floating house, and that was something that spoke to me.

As a director, by the end of the day, I’m exhausted from just talking to people. So there’s this great temptation to escape and get away from everything and it seemed really appealing to be able to float your house off into the sky.

What is Up about?
Up is the story of Carl Fredricksen, who ties thousands of balloons to the roof of his house and flies to South America to have an adventure. On the foundation level, it’s about discovering what adventure really is. Carl and his wife, Ellie, have always dreamed of exotic travel, seeing wild beasts and plants that no one’s ever seen before. But what Carl comes to discover is that even though he and Ellie never got the adventure they wanted, they had life’s greatest adventure — a wonderful rich relationship.

Tell us about the research that went into the creation of Up.
We went to South America, where the story takes place. We needed a location where Carl and Russell could go and end up stuck with no outside connection. We decided that there was no other way to create this place than to go there and experience it ourselves. And ten of us went there. It took about three days just to get there. We hiked up a mountain called Roraima (of the Venezuelan Tepuis), it inspired the book by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Lost World.

How do you think the themes of ‘Up’ will play internationally?
Everybody has hopes and dreams, whether it’s owning a restaurant, winning a marathon or travelling to exotic places. Yet we tend to take for granted the things we have, the people, our families; and until those people are gone, we don’t realise how lucky we are to have had them in our lives. That’s what Up is trying to shine a spotlight on.

If you could fly a house anywhere, other than your family, who would you take and where would you head?
I would want to bring all the folks who worked on this movie. It’d have to be an awfully big house, I guess! And as far as destination is concerned, sometimes I fantasise about being marooned on a small island in the South Pacific.

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