Our first interview of the Cars 3 Press Junket was with CARS 3 Director Brian Fee (BF) & Producer Kevin Reher (KR).
Walking into a room filled with 25 mom bloggers ready to interview him, Kevin Reher, producer of Cars 3, said that at a wrap party the week prior and said thank you for making a feminist animated movie. He said, “Whoops that wasn’t the intention, we didn’t set out to do that, but okay I’ll take it.”
Asked about the scene early in the movie where Mack is driving through a countryside, the effects are so life like it feels as if you can touch the grass, the sign board looks real – Both Brian and Kevin were asked to talk about this scene, discussing the animation.
BF – We have a new renderer and we can do things that we couldn’t do on the first film. We can go wholeheartedly into a sense of realism. We try not to say photo realism because I think photo realism, that would actually be kind of boring, we almost want like a hyper realism. We want to be able to control how you feel but we want you to feel like you can smell the air.
I remember sitting with the production designer and that was kind of like one of the main things I kept saying because he’d be like how about this how about this and I’d just want to make sure you can smell the air. I mean we can’t smell anything, but make me think I can. So we went for a lot of atmosphere, you’ll see a lot of fog and things that are at a distance are so faded- just like the atmosphere between you and the thing that’s miles away, we just kind of dove into those things and we can now, because we can do these things.
And our movie, you know, being a Cars film, more than maybe other Pixar movies lends itself to that, you kind of have to be careful with other movies, because they’re cartoon characters, and we have talking cars. I don’t know if you can get any more cartoon character than that, but we want them to look real, we want the car to look like its four thousand pounds. Everyone sees cars every day, everybody knows in your brain, you know there’s reflections on cars.
You don’t necessarily look at these things when you’re on the road but you expect to see it, and we wanted to just lean into what we can take advantage of, and really go for it.”
KR – We sent the two production designers on a really wintry week, in a convertible Camaro, because they insisted on a convertible, I’m like hey you’re going to freeze your asses off, all the way from Daytona up through the Carolinas, and so that it wasn’t just internet research. Then we also went to two different I don’t want to say abandoned tracks.
But two tracks that are no longer operable, one which was Occoneechee, which was legendary at the beginnings of stock car and then Wilkesboro, which was very influential. The guy the caretaker, we got there and he said, I’ve mowed the track for you, there was so much grass. We said we’ll send you some DVDs, he goes what’s that.”
Seeing as it is a Disney movie we had to ask – did you put any Easter eggs in the reflections?
KR – No I don’t think there are any Easter eggs in the reflections that I’m aware of.
What do you and families walk away with, there are so many messages in the film?
BF – You know, I originally came at this film and for me it still is the most important part for me personally as a parent, my mother passed away, my father is getting older and I looked at McQueen’s and Doc’s relationship as a father and son relationship. You could see it as a mentor mentee; however people plug into it in their own personal lives. And I have that moment- middle of my life my mom’s passing away and you kind of feel that safety net that you’ve always had.
That moment where you get just a little scared that everything you’ve ever known is kind of dropping. I have two daughters and I realized I’m their safety net, like they look up to me, I’m playing that role for them and it kind of erased the fear I had of losing my parents, not that I don’t want to see them go, but it gave me new strength that a sense of purpose in life. So to me I look at McQueen’s on that same transition.
You may think you’re losing something, but the best thing is still in front of you- have yet to come.”
KR – For me it was the Doc Hudson McQueen relationship and my dad died and I was the car kid, my brother was the sports kid. And he never got to see even Cars One, and so the whole McQueen Doc stuff just slays me.”
Speaking of Doc he had such a presence in the film and of course Paul Newman is no longer with us so I’m curious about the process m I know you used old recordings, how did that come together?
KR – Well the Newman Foundation was very generous with us and we told them- we let them know that this wasn’t just a marketing trick that this was really integral to the story, and we had all these recordings of open mic kind of thing that John had recording when he was doing Cars One. And so we had a transcript of all this and tried to fashion the story- what was the story- what would serve the story- what line could help us serve the story. And it’s pretty emotional when you hear it- and then we used the old Doc line, you think I quit they quit on me, which mirrored what had happened to McQueen.”
BF – Yeah we originally tried a sound-alike because you kind of want to write whatever you want to write, right? It just wasn’t working it just was no magic, then we decided all right, we have to find the lines, cross our fingers that we’ve got the right lines to help us tell the story. And so it was just spending a lot of time and finding when we can give Doc something to say.”
When did you start working on the movie?
BF – Six years ago.
KR – And I actually have emails back to 2011. I’m almost tired.
Out of curiosity, what were your first cars?
KR – ‘64 Falcon Futura convertible. The only thing that wasn’t manual on it was the top and it also had leak- it had a thing called leak hole and the rain gets diverted, it got diverted into the back seat so when you put the brakes on, the water would come up around your ankles. I had a coffee mug that I would just bail the car and we were living in Northern California.”
BF – Mine is not that fun of an answer, I was in high school, it’s like what can I get with this many dollars? It was an ‘81 Oldsmobile I guess Cutlass Supreme gray. The dashboard was cracked and it had the smell that comes along with a car that’s old enough to have a cracked dashboard. I’d still Armor All it, you know, I’m going to put lipstick on this pig until the end.”
It was a great interview. Getting to see the excitement and passion that these two very talented men put into this phenomenal movie is just amazing, such a treat!! Be sure to watch the movie, your entire family will absolutely love it.
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