PIXAR has its innate tradition to work on any project they conceive of – telling a STORY. A story that is compelling, filling us with emotion and thought provocative. Just take any PIXAR animation – Toy Story, Finding Dory, Inside Out and all of the rest of them – what we gravitate is the story that is told every step of the way.
A story about the story is being told by many writers who work together as a team and collaborate on every tiny detail that goes into each PIXAR movie. I had an magical opportunity to meat the entire writing team for the upcoming CARS 3, the animation that will shake off the rustiness and will inspire us for bigger and better things in life.
With new characters and a deeper understanding of the main character Lightening McQueen, this CARS 3 will be your next favorite churned by the brilliant PIXAR storytelling crew and animators.
Here’s the core writer team who worked on CARS 3
The job of a story supervisor is to make sure that all parts and characters in the story function and look as one, and there’s zero deviation from the character or storyboard that was planned and confirmed for the entire movie. That means he has to know every little tiny detail and sequencing of the story and ensure its smooth progression as new changes are being made during the movie-making. Scott Morse of PIXAR (Cars 2, Brave, Wall-E) has been overlooking the story development part of CARS 3.
In CARS 3, you will meet a lot of new characters. One of them is Cruz Ramirez, a spunky trainer who is much younger that Lightening McQueen. This female character is so much needed in the movies that might be considered “for boys only.” One of the writers of CARS 3, Kiel Murray (CARS 2), was a lead developer on the character traits this young female trainer would showcase in the movie. One of them that the writers wanted to highlight and emphasize was the all-things-possible.
My daughter doesn’t even think she couldn’t do that because she doesn’t see how male-dominated the sport is. It’s 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. – Kiel Murray, CARS 3 Writer
Be ready to discover Cruz Ramirez in all of her glory and vulnerabilities and hear her story as it develops as we watch CARS 3.
Bob Peterson is a genius who is behind the writing team for Finding Nemo. He shared the process they had to go through in early story development. Lightening McQueen had to convey a different feel and look in CARS 3, as the time has changed and new characters came into the sporting and competing arenas. The writers tried to find different prototypes to the characters in CARS 3. And they found excellent sources in sports!
We talked about Kobe Bryant as he aged, his Achilles injury and other injuries and Michael Jordan. These guys are on top of the world just as McQueen is, but then they have to figure out when they start to become obsolete: what do you do?
We found that a very interesting way to go with this story. In all these films, we look for a universal truth that everyone can sort of identify with, whether it’s toys or fish or whatever, as long as there is something we can all learn from, a parable that is being told about life in a universal way.
Then we felt like that is the sort of story we’re telling. In this case, it was what do you do when you’re not as fast any more and you have people behind you that are faster? Do you crumple or do you rise up and change?
Mike Rich, the writer who worked on Finding Forester and Secretariat, is a great example of a writer who is familiar with the sports theme when it comes to flashing it out onto the big screen. Approaching CARS 3 and developing its main characters have been some of the challenging thing in his writing career. CARS 3 is Mike’s first experience writing for the animation. Yet what he stayed true in his “script” is telling a deliberately compelling story that evolves with the character and produces the unforgettable results – emotions in those at the opposite side of the blue screen.
Mike Rich shared with us the difficulty they had encountered earlier in the story development of CARS 3:
This guy [Lightening McQueen] was very much to our advantage because he was a character that is an iconic character to work with. The one thing we didn’t have was he didn’t have a problem. He didn’t have a dilemma. The last race we saw Lightning McQueen he was on top of the world. He was a champion racer. Things were going well for him.
I think part of the reason why Pixar perhaps wanted me to come on board was I had worked in films that dealt with sports in the past and sometimes larger than life. I mean Secretariat. Working on Secretariat was similar feeling of you like to have an under current. You like to have something they can come back from.
We knew we would have to do with McQueen is make him vulnerable and take him down a notch. So in the early exploration of how do we go about doing that, we kind of looked at big athletes that were going through a similar thing.
If you consider the fact that Cars 3 is really kind of a third act of the overall story, it makes sense that McQueen is now past the halfway, probably a little bit further past the half way point of his career as well. So we visited with and we talked with athletes like Jeff Gordon who was only a couple of years away from his own retirement. Bob and I are big basketball fans.
One of the key points for the writer’s team was to create new McQueen and his antagonists in the movie. Brainstorming ideas who that character will be and what it would look like helped to propel the story and move the narration forward. The stills below show different notes and character prototypes that the writers were working with for months before they flashed it out to the big screen. The antagonist that will be “nudging” Lightening in this story is younger and edgier racer Jackson Storm. Watch out for this guy! He reminds us of Lightening McQueen when he just started on the road of racing.
Remember when Cars first started out McQueen was this brash, cocky rookie who just had youth on his side. He had speed to burn. He didn’t need anybody telling him about anything. He had the answers, and his appreciation and respect for the sport was basically just for what about me, what’s it mean for me. Cars taught him that there is a lot more to value than just that. – Bob Peterson
A compelling story comes from personal experiences and learning deep and inside-out on the subject the story is being written about. All writers had to be “investigators” and discoverers. They visited racetracks, spoke to some amazing racers of all times like Richard Petty and Junior Johnson.
The story, as it progressed, flashed out more and more details on the surroundings of Lightening McQueen, and how he got go where he is in life. It is like telling a story of a live person, we need to know who, where, when and how the character was formed. You will experience and feel all that about Lightening and the cars who will be in his life this time around. CARS 3 promises to be one of the epic stories that will stay with us for the rest of our lives. To me, it is The Toy Story that made a huge impact on me and started my interest and fascination with PIXAR way of telling a story.
The amount of work that goes into each and every PIXAR movie is tremendous. The collaboration of a million moving parts and pieces is endless and stops when the movie is “shipped” for production.
Take a Look at this CARS 3 Trailer –
Be Amazed by Technique & Details!
Follow Cars 3 Zooming Through Time & Spaces
Every Race of the Way!
Opens June 6, 2017, In Theater New You
Share This Dynamic Movie – Please RETWEET!
— Celebrate Woman (@DiscoverSelf) May 16, 2017