“Elemental” Press Conference: Filmmakers Talk About Upcoming Pixar Film
I was invited to an early virtual press conference for Disney and Pixar’s “Elemental”, which opens in theaters on June 16th, 2023. I also watched about 30 minutes of footage from the film, which not only is brilliantly animated but also thoroughly engaging.
The moderator for the press conference was Chris Wiggum, who is Director of Publicity at Pixar. Director Peter Sohn and Producer Denise Ream answered questions from Wiggum and press conference attendees.
Sohn was asked how the idea for the film came about. He answered, “It really was a chemistry of several ideas throughout my life.” Sohn talked about doodling and stumbling upon the fire characters, with those leading to a water character. He continued, “But that also started tying to my own life with my wife, having married someone that wasn’t Korean. And the culture clash that created, with my own family and then on top of that.” He talked about how he didn’t appreciate everything his parents had gone through…a war, coming to the United States without knowing English, and other obstacles that Sohn now appreciates. “And that gratefulness became this part to the whole thing that tied all of it together.”
The film follows Ember and Wade, with Ember having the fiery personality (being that she’s a fire element) and Wade more apt to tears (being that he’s a water element). Sohn drew inspiration from the personality types of he and his wife. “…she’s half Italian and I’m Korean. And not to say that Italians are fire, but my wife particularly is very passionate about things and I’m much more of a sap. And so that’s how that started.”
“Elemental” was a pandemic movie. There were no research trips to locations to study cities that they might use for Element City. Sohn said, “…virtually during the pandemic, we got stuck, but like there are all these YouTube (videos), like 4K walk around these cities, and so I spent hours and hours and evenings just going through cities, watching someone walk through a city, noticing all the little details of what’s by the water…how light reflects off of something and bringing that to the art department.”
Sohn and Ream were asked what was the most complex element to transfer to animation. Sohn answered that he found water the most challenging. “….water can be any color in the rainbow because it’s a mirror. And so we were dealing with those same issues when lighting it.” Ream answered, “Definitely water’s always hard from a visual effects perspective, but then adding…trying to create a performance out of it and you know, the reflective nature of water.”
There is much more that was talked about. I will post another article in May from the press conference!