“Big Hero 6” Media Day Brings Out Filmakers to Talk Story

Hi everyone!

We were invited to a Big Hero 6 media day at Walt Disney Animation Studios. We sent a reporter who had a great time covering the day for us – both Big Hero 6 and the animated short Feast look to be sure hits. We can’t wait to meet Baymax at Walt Disney World this fall! Big Hero 6 will hit theaters on November 7th, 2014, and will features characters from the Marvel universe.

First, we take a look at Feast. Feast is directed by Patrick Osborne, who joined Walt Disney Animation Studios as an animator for Bolt in 2008, and was head of animation for the Oscar winning short “Paperman”. The story is about one man’s love life as seen through his dog Winston, and revealed in the meals they share. Osborne tried to make “Paperman” look a little different than the features, more “naturalistic”, and continued that with Feast, but still using modern tools. The short combines 2D and 3D animation techniques, and Osborne was happy to tap into the talents of the artists at the Studio to help create it. There were a lot of “awwwws” in the audience when artwork featuring puppies came out.  Our reporter loved this short! We don’t want to give too much away, and Jeff and I look forward to seeing it ourselves soon – it will be shown before Big Hero 6.

The rest of the press day was learning about Big Hero 6 with a variety of filmaker presentations. Last year, Jeff and I were able to interview Director Don Hall about the film, who told us about how Big Hero 6 was based on an obscure Marvel comic. He was very passionate about the film, and said that Big Hero 6 was about “this 14 year old super genious named Hiro Hamada, who loses his older brother. And this robot named Baymax who heals his broken heart.” The city of San Fransokyo is a mash-up of San Francisco and Tokyo. Don Hall has said that, “I thought about San Francisco, which is cool, but what if it was San Francisco mashed up with Tokyo”?

The question and answer session with Director Don Hall at the press day also included Director Chris Williams and Producer Roy Conli. Hall spoke the most out of the three.
After the first round of discussions, Marvel gave Disney “full blessing” to make Big Hero 6 their own. The first question was what world the movie would inhabit. “John (Lasseter) always encourages us to, even before there is a core story, to focus on the world of the story. And that is what fuels a lot of the research trips”. But why San Francisco and not another city? Hall wanted to take the love of Japanese pop culture, which “permeates the original comic book”, and set it in a different place. “I thought it would be kind of dull to set it in just a real world. We’re best in animation when we can craft something new and original. I love the idea of creating this fantasy world”. He thought that New York was where “Spider-Man lives, that is Marvel domain”.  He continued, “I liked San Francisco because there are a lot of icons to the city. You’ve got the Golden Gate Bridge, you’ve got the hills, you’ve got cable cars…Coit Tower. It just felt like there were a lot of landmarks there that…if you thought of it with this Japanese makeover, it could be a really cool place.”
The crux of the story rests on the relationship between Hiro and Baymax. Baymax becomes somewhat of a mentor to Hiro after Hiro loses his older brother, and offers him an emotional relationship which Hiro lost. The movie offers that, “when you lose somebody, in once sense they are gone. But in another sense they live through you in the choices you make”. Hiro learns that Tadashi is still with him, Baymax is like a surrogate big brother.

The filmmakers spoke quite fondly of John Lasseter, who they said wouldn’t let anything that didn’t “cut muster” to move forward. And it is important to find the heart of the story as well before progressing. They said that Lasseter is both very challenging and supportive, and also an “animation geek”. But even after geeking out after seeing one of their pieces of animation for Big Hero 6, they laugh remembering that he still gave them a couple of notes.

We expect Baymax to be a breakout character.

It sounds like Big Hero 6 will have plenty of action, a lot of heart and many laughs – a great combination for the time period just before Thanksgiving!