Cast: Dane Cook, Stacy Keach, Brad Garrett, Jessica Marais, Priyanka Chopra, John Cleese, Cedric the Entertainer, Carlos Alazraqui, Roger Craig Smith, Anthony Edwards, Val Kilmer, Sinbad, Gabriel Iglesias, Brent Musburger, Colin Cowherd, Danny Mann, John Ratzenberger, Oliver Kalkofe
Director: Klay Hall
Genre: Animation, Family
Running Time: 91 minutes
Synopsis: 'Disney's Planes" is an action-packed 3D animated comedy featuring Dusty, a plane with dreams of competing as a high-flying air racer. But Dusty's not exactly built for racing"and he happens to be afraid of heights. So he turns to a seasoned naval aviator who helps Dusty qualify to take on the defending champ of the race circuit. Dusty's courage is put to the ultimate test as he aims to reach heights he never dreamed possible, giving a spellbound world the inspiration to soar.
Release Date: Thursday 19th September, 2013 (NSW, VIC, QLD)
Thursday 26th September, 2013 (WA, SA, TAS, ACT, NT)
Director Welcomes Opportunity with Open Wings
Klay Hall was into airplanes long before 'Disney's Planes" ever got off the ground. So when executive producer John Lasseter asked the Disneytoon Studios veteran if he'd be interested in directing a feature film set in the skies, it was a no-brainer. 'I've always loved airplanes," says Hall. 'My dad was in the Navy and his dad was also a pilot. They flew all their lives and passed that love of aviation to me.
'When I was a kid here in California," continues Klay Hall, 'my dad and I would grab some burgers and Cokes and go to the local runway to watch the planes take off and land. I'd sit there and sketch as he talked about the characteristics of the airplanes. I still have a couple of those drawings. So when this project came up, I was able to really jump into this universe."
Klay Hall's passion for and background in aviation clearly made him the ideal choice for the film"but the director was already on board another project when 'Disney's Planes" landed in his lap. At the suggestion of John Lasseter, Klay Hall spent more than six months researching and building a story set in the American frontier and featuring railroading. 'I'm a history buff"just like John Lasseter"and it was neat world full of steam locomotives," says Klay Hall. 'It really seemed to be coming together and then John called me. I remember exactly where I was when my phone rang. He said, -What do you think about shifting gears and working on a film about planes?' I paused for a second"John Lasseter likes to say that as soon as the blood went back to my head after I got off the floor, I was all in. I told him that if there's one thing I love more than trains and the wild west, it's planes."
The director, who attended Cal Arts with fellow animation vets Rich Moore ('Wreck-It Ralph") and Andrew Stanton ('Finding Nemo," 'WALL•E"), came to Disney in 2005. 'My background has always been primetime comedy," says Klay Hall. 'I spent 10 years at -The Simpsons' and then -King of the Hill.'"
So when it came time to build the story for 'Disney's Planes," humour was a key ingredient"along with the kind of action a film about airplanes called for and"of course"authenticity and heart.
Klay Hall credits the story team with finding the right blend. 'What's really cool about making an animated film is"hands down"the collaboration. I think animation is the most collaborative art form there is. It takes an army of talented people to do one of these films."
Klay Hall, Jphn Lasseter and Jeff Howard came together early in the process to hammer out the story. 'We sat in a little room for five or six hours," says Jeff Howard, who welcomed the opportunity to brainstorm with John Lasseter. 'We all respect him so much, creatively"and we were invited to hang out and spitball with him. That's when we came up with the idea of a crop duster who wants to be a racer. We named him Dusty that first day and talked about a race around the world where he'd meet racers from different countries."
'It just felt right," says John Lasseter. 'There's a great group of new characters who fly throughout different parts of the world"Iceland, Germany, India, Mexico. We knew from the start that it had to be better than good. It had to be great. And it is. It's beautiful. To say that I'm excited about this movie is an understatement."
Doing Their Homework
Filmmakers Hit the Books"and the Skies"to Build 'Disney's Planes"
The magic of Disney animation begins with research, which informs everything from story development to character design to lighting. Filmmakers' research efforts ran the gamut for 'Disney's Planes""from helicopter flights and long drives along winding rural roads to a rare opportunity to come aboard a working aircraft carrier. 'Authenticity is everything in a movie like -Disney's Planes,'" says producer Traci Balthazor-Flynn. 'We needed to know airplanes inside and out, how they fly, how they react to different forces of nature, and how they sound. We needed to know how a small plane might perform in the world of racing."
At the core of 'Disney's Planes" is the fact that Dusty was built for one thing. 'He doesn't really belong in this big around-the-world race"or any race, for that matter," says director Klay Hall. 'He's just a crop duster, but when he gets a chance to step out of his comfort zone and challenge himself"he surprises everyone, including himself."
Klay Hall says the key to allowing the character to become more than he was built for was to understand how airplanes are built and how they operate so they could help Dusty break his predetermined mould. 'Working with John Lasseter is incredibly inspiring. He firmly believes in getting the facts right, getting as much information as possible."
The research they conducted helped ensure they embraced John Lasseter's philosophy: truth to materials. The principle"as applied to 'Disney's Planes""required artists to keep an airplane's physical structure"its frame, its size and weight"in mind while designing and animating the characters. Wings couldn't be bent, bodies weren't stretched or squashed and propellers had to move as real propellers would move. Filmmakers had to find much more subtle ways to convey action and emotion.
'We had a lot of fun exploring the world of airplanes," says Klay Hall. 'We've been able to experience all kinds of flight"hot air balloons, World War II bombers, and different types of jet and civilian aircraft."
Klay Hall was invited by Sean Bautista, a long-time pilot who became the flight and engineering specialist for 'Disney's Planes," to take part in a memorable flight. 'We took off out of a little airport in Fresno in a 1926 open-cockpit Travel Air"you spin the old prop outside and get in and start it up. I was in the front with a leather hat and goggles. That feeling of the wind in your hair, hearing the motor and experiencing the soft turns and gentle glide of that aircraft was pure magic."
The research included field trips for several members of the production team"attending air shows, museums and a number of small-town airports"to soak up the atmosphere, bolster their knowledge of airplanes and ensure authenticity in the story. 'I was like a kid in a candy store," says Klay Hall. 'We were able to talk to aviation pioneers and fighter pilots, Korean War vets, civilian test pilots. We had special access to the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds. It's been amazing."
Embracing the Heartland
According to Klay Hall, 'Disney's Planes" is set somewhere in the Midwest. 'Dusty's an agricultural plane," says the director. 'We wanted to create his hometown in a rural part of the United States."
They learned that the Midwest offered a wealth of aviation knowledge in addition to the right setting for Dusty's hometown, so Hall and the team set out on a series of research trips, visiting several areas in the heartland, including:
Ohio – Filmmakers visited the National Museum of the United States Air Force, where they saw the historic Memphis Belle in mid-restoration, John F. Kennedy's Air Force One and a MiG-25 Foxbat fighter jet. They attended the Dayton Air Show, where they met surviving members of the Tuskegee Airmen. They also flew in a 40-year-old Huey helicopter and hung out with the USAF Thunderbirds. Says writer Jeff Howard, 'At one point we got a chance to fly in a B25, which is a WWII bomber. They had a P-51 fly escort. Dayton was a really great trip."
North Dakota – Several members of the production team went to the Fargo Air Museum and saw a restored F4U Corsair on display. They talked with a retired U.S. Navy pilot who flew a TBM Avenger torpedo bomber in 1944-1945. The experience proved valuable in the development of Skipper, the seasoned Navy vet that helps train Dusty.
Minnesota – Filmmakers hit nine regional airports and air fields. Says Howard, 'We were talking to a guy who said, -If you're looking for a real rural airport, you've got to go find this airstrip"it's not even on the map.' So we drove out to Leaders Clear Lake Airport, which was like a tiny airplane graveyard with a bunch of airplanes in various states of disassembly." The small air field was surrounded by cornfields, which housed a number of old crop dusters and fuel trucks.
The location proved to be perfect reference for Propwash Junction's rural backdrop and weathered buildings. 'We found an old fuel truck tucked in some overgrowth next to a cornfield that was actually an inspiration for our fuel truck Chug," says Hall.
Sea to Shining Sea
Members of the production team also visited the USS Carl Vinson. The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, which boasts a rich history dating back to its launch in 1980, proved to be great reference for a scene in the film that's set on an aircraft carrier. Balthazor-Flynn joined Hall and a few other members of the team, observing target practice, plus a number of takeoffs, including a Hornet, helicopters and C-2 Cargo planes. 'Landing on the aircraft carrier, then riding it into the harbor ranks right up there among the top 10 things I've done in my life," says Balthazor-Flynn. 'It was fantastic speaking to the crew"we even ran some of the film's dialogue by a few of the officers."
Adds Klay Hall, 'There's a crew of about 5,000 men and women"many are 18-19 years old. It made me truly proud to witness part of how our Navy works. We were able to fly in and tail hook on the deck, which is pretty cool."
As filmmakers explored real planes, they found that many of the details they gathered actually helped drive the story. Given that crop dusters needn't fly above 1,000 feet, filmmakers theorised that despite his dream of becoming a world-famous air racer, Dusty might have some reservations about doing what it takes to achieve it. 'He's not built to fly high"he's never had to fly high," says Klay Hall. 'So it makes perfect sense that he'd be afraid of heights."
Dusty's fear of heights prompted filmmakers to seek the guidance of a phobia specialist to ensure they characterised the fear appropriately. 'We knew if we captured it the right way, we'd connect that much more with that guy in the audience who's dealing with his own fear"whether it's of heights or something else entirely," says Klay Hall.
'Dusty's character and condition is relatable because we all suffer fears"some more than others"and we have all experienced struggles in our lives that we cannot easily overcome," says John Tsilimparis. The licensed psychotherapist, who met with film-makers and has treated people with anxiety disorders for two decades, said acrophobia"the fear of heights"is 'marked by symptoms of dizziness, sweating, nausea, dry mouth, shaking, heart palpitations, laboured breathing and the inability to speak or think clearly.
'Dusty's dilemma is very human and we resonate with his pain," continues John Tsilimparis. 'We feel compassion for him and we want him to succeed. We also love the underdog."
'We've all been the underdog in our own lives," adds Klay Hall. 'We've all been Dusty at some point. It's that familiarity"paired with the authenticity we worked so hard to incorporate at every level"that'll make audiences root for this guy. And I think that's one of the best parts of going to the movies."
Filmmakers Tap Talented Performers to Bring to Life a Cast of All-New Characters that Spans the Globe
Filmmakers at Disneytoon Studios wanted to populate the world of 'Disney's Planes" with the kind of characters that would resonate with audiences worldwide. The colourful cast spans the globe"from the fictional Midwest town of Propwash Junction to faraway places like India and Mexico"with similarly diverse personalities. Helping to bring the characters to life on the big screen is an extraordinary voice cast that features an array of talented performers.
Dusty is a plane with high hopes"literally. Crop duster by trade, this single-prop plane sees himself soaring alongside his high-flying heroes in an international race. The fact that he's not really built for competitive racing doesn't deter him from pursuing his dream"but his fear of heights just might. With a little help from his friends"and a WWII vet with wisdom to spare"Dusty takes off on an adventure of a lifetime, going prop-to-prop with champions while daring to reach heights he never imagined possible.
Director Klay Hall says he relates to the crop duster that could. 'This whole movie and my experience working on it parallels Dusty's story in a lot of ways. We started small, worked really hard, and through a series of fortunate events have been able to go farther than we imagined."
Dane Cook, who was called on to provide the voice of Dusty, also sees a connection with his character. 'As a kid, it took me a lot of years to find my place, my voice," says Dane Cook. 'I couldn't even speak in class"I was afraid to put my hand up and yet I wanted to entertain the world. My journey"much like Dusty's"was one of digging down deep and finding something inside myself that would help me to exceed my own expectations."
According to Klay Hall, Dane Cook helped give Dusty the kind of edge he'd need to tackle the racing circuit. 'Once we saw Dane Cook do some of his stand-up and watched a couple of his movies, it just clicked. His voice is on the deeper side with a bit of sarcasm"dry wit"to it. We liked how that supported the character's intense passion for racing as well as his sense of humour."
A reclusive old Navy Corsair, Skipper Riley was an ace flier and top instructor of the esteemed Jolly Wrenches squadron until an incident during a combat mission took him off the front lines and left him grounded for life. These days, Skipper keeps to himself, but his quiet existence is turned upside down when an ambitious and persistent Dusty solicits Skipper's aerial expertise"and gets a few life lessons in the process.
Writer Jeff Howard saw Skipper as the film's patriarch. 'He's very protective of Dusty and wants to train him hard so he races well and stays safe," says Howard. 'He sees a bit of his old charges from World War II in Dusty and doesn't want him to get hurt."
Skipper"who's never really come to terms with his past"finds that he has a few things to learn, too, and while coaching Dusty to fly faster and smarter, the teacher becomes the student.
'Skipper is able to overcome something that has been a thorn in his side and the cause of a lot of guilt for many years," says veteran actor Stacy Keach, who provides the voice of Skipper. 'The story is beautifully mapped out in that respect because we discover that the relationship between Skipper and Dusty is good for them both."
Leadbottom is a puttering old biplane and a grumbling taskmaster, a real 'tank-half-empty" kind of guy. As the proprietor of Vitaminamulch, a special"albeit putrid"blend of vitamins, minerals and mulch that works miracles when sprayed on crops, Leadbottom has no time for Dusty's far-fetched flights of fancy. There are too many crops to spray and not enough hours in the day to spray them. For Leadbottom, it's work first, then … well, more work.
Cedric the Entertainer gives voice to Leadbottom. 'Cedric is very warm and engaged in the role," says Klay Hall. 'He liked to joke around a lot. Working with high-caliber comedians like Cedric was a bonus. The goal was to get what was in the script first then forget about what's on the page and have some fun."
Dottie is a forklift who co-owns and operates Chug and Dottie's Fill 'n Fly service station. As Dusty's practical and say-it-like-it-is friend"not to mention his ace mechanic"Dottie hopes to keep his high-flying hopes grounded in reality: Dusty isn't built to race and chasing his dream is downright dangerous. No matter what he decides, however, Dottie will always have his back.
'I love Dottie; she's such a loyal friend to Dusty," says producer Traci Balthazor-Flynn. 'She's strong and intelligent and she's not afraid to show it. We have such a powerful female presence in this film."
Filmmakers cast Teri Hatcher as the voice of the pragmatic Dottie. 'This story is very relatable and incredibly charming," says Teri Hatcher. 'It's an everyman's story: you have a certain set of skills, but you dream of something bigger. Do you have the guts to go out and follow that dream or will you let your fears stand in your way? Dottie wants to support her friend in his pursuits, but she's concerned about him and worried he'll get hurt. I think she grows and eventually accepts that holding back is probably not the way to live life, and that Dusty should just go for it and follow his dreams."
Fuel truck Chug is a guy's guy. 'He's Dusty's right-hand man, best friend and pal," says Dan Abraham, head of story for 'Disney's Planes." 'But he's not the smartest bulb in the lamp."
The co-owner of Chug and Dottie's Fill 'n Fly service station works hard and plays hard, indulging in his own fuel from time to time. He has a big personality and is a bold supporter of Dusty's high-flying endeavors. Indeed, he's not only Dusty's buddy, he's his coach and biggest fan. And if Chug can't help Dusty reach new heights, he'll find someone who can.
Brad Garrett brings the fuel truck to life. 'We knew that Dusty needed a really funny and lovable sidekick and Brad Garrett has always been a favourite of mine," says Klay Hall. 'I loved him in -Everybody Loves Raymond' and I've seen him do his stand-up. He's a really funny guy."
Chug posed a few challenges for the animation team. 'Chug has a separate cab and body," says Sheryl Sackett, animation director. 'It seemed perfect at first"we could move the cab like a head. But he didn't feel right. John Lasseter suggested we treat him as a solid piece, without bending or moving him too much, and it turned out to be the key to making Chug work. He feels heavy, like a fuel truck should."
Every war vet needs a diehard supporter like Sparky. The loyal, eager-to-please pitty is always there to lend a helping wrench to Skipper or give the grounded plane a tow. The two go way back"Sparky is all too aware of Skipper's history and has a lot of respect for the old Corsair, but he still hopes to see the day when Skipper is able to return to the skies he was built to fly. Danny Mann is the voice of Sparky.
The Racers Ripslinger: With more wins than he can count and an abundance of fans, Ripslinger is wings-down the biggest name in air racing"and he knows it. But despite sky's-the-limit funding and state-of-the-art equipment, the world champion's crown is threatened by a small-town plane with zero racing experience. Dusty doesn't belong in Ripslinger's sport and his mere presence makes the pro's fuel boil. And if Dusty's inexperience doesn't take him out of the race, Ripslinger's vast empire includes a couple of underhanded sidekicks to take care of business.
T. Dan Hofstedt, assistant animation supervisor, says Ripslinger's every move underscored his villainous personality. 'His movements, his attributes"right down to the shape of his eyes"are sharp and a little threatening."
Stereoscopic supervisor Jason Carter helped underscore Ripslinger by making strategic choices for the depth of his scenes. Close-ups of Dusty"the protagonist"are placed a bit closer to the audience than close-ups of his adversary Ripslinger. The idea, says Carter, is to subtly invite the audience into Dusty's inner circle, while keeping Ripslinger at arm's length"literally.
But filmmakers were keenly aware of Ripslinger's prowess in the sky and made sure his look and animation reflected it. Also aware was Roger Craig Smith, who provided the racer's voice. 'Ripslinger is the best," says Smith. 'He's carbon fiber, he's lightweight, he's built for speed. He's an ego-maniacal, self-serving jerk, too, but he's the champ. Winning means everything to Rip. It's the only thing."
Team Ripslinger's bombastic racers Ned and Zed specialise in sabotage. Lacking the skills to actually outrace the competition, they simply eliminate it, propelling boss Ripslinger to victory every single time. Zed, a rowdy and reckless flier, and Ned, a strange bird himself, may not be the sharpest props in the hangar, but they have figured out how to draft off Ripslinger's fame.
Gabriel Iglesias, who provides the voice of both henchmen, says he had to find unique voices for each of the characters. Ned was easy, says the actor. 'It's actually my voice with a little bit of a sinister feel to it. It's evil me."
As for Zed? Iglesias didn't have to look far. 'Klay Hall started asking me about crazy people in my family and next thing you know, we found Zed."
The intensely charming El Chupacabra is a legend in Mexico (just ask him). According to Art Hernandez, story artist for the film, 'El Chu is over the top. He's big, he's got a lot of bravado and"it's not that he's full of himself, exactly"he's definitely confident. He's a star of telenovelas and a recording artist. His face is on lunchboxes across Mexico. He's the indoor racing champion of the world."
Carlos Alazraqui was called on to help bring El Chu to life. 'When El Chu meets Dusty, there's an instant connection," says Alazraqui. 'They form a great friendship that's built on trust. El Chu's got Dusty's back and Dusty repays him by helping him out with a romantic situation."
Powered by his passion for racing (not to mention the elusive Rochelle), this caped Casanova is anything but low-key"his booming voice and charismatic presence are as big as his oversized engine. His cohorts aren't really sure what is truth and what is delusion when it comes to El Chu, but one thing is beyond doubt: he races with a whole lot of heart and more dramatic flair than is recommended at high altitudes.
Rochelle Rochelle is a tough racer and the pride of the Wellington Range. Always confident and capable, she got her start running mail to small towns in Tasmania, picking up home remedies for mechanical maladies along the way. She also developed a knack for fast travel that ultimately inspired her to give air racing a try. Rochelle never looked back (this competitive contender doesn't need to). She is relentlessly pursued by charmer El Chupacabra, but steadfast Rochelle is much too focused on winning the race to return his affections.
'Rochelle in the Australian/New Zealand version of the film is voiced by Jessica Marais. 'Normally the ladies go crazy for El Chu, but not Rochelle. She sees through his cheesy come-ons and just keeps shooting him down. Then there's this really funny, sweet moment when he stops being insincere and serenades her. It changes everything."
Ryan Carlson, art director for 'Disney's Planes," spearheaded the look of Rochelle, which presented a few challenges. 'How do you make an airplane feminine?" Carlson asks. 'How do you make her sexy and appealing?"
He says it often boils down to a quarter of a line to achieve just the right curve. 'It's something I learned when I was in feature animation with a woman who worked on characters like Jasmine and Pocahontas. She taught me how just the right shape, with a little finesse, can make a character beautiful. Rochelle is a sweet airplane who is definitely beautiful."
Bulldog has been racing longer than every other racer on the circuit. As the oldest and arguably wisest, he remembers a time before GPS, when real racers trusted their gyros and navigated by the stars. When it comes to racing, it boils down to two qualities, says Bulldog: good flying and sportsmanship. Period. While the competition secretly wonders if the aging plane is past his prime, he flies his way onto the leader board again and again, proving that this Bulldog has lost none of his bite.
Veteran actor John Cleese provides the voice of the British racer. 'Bulldog is red, white and blue"the British national colours. He is a very decent fellow"a bit restrained, a little uptight, a tiny bit stuffy, but he's still fun. It's rather nice when he has a big emotional moment with Dusty."
The reigning Pan-Asian champion from India, Ishani is easy on the eyes, but ruthless in the skies. Thanks to her high-speed competitiveness and notable talent, she has amassed more than a billion loyal fans"including one rookie racer who turns to her for guidance. Exotic and mysterious, Ishani is full of surprises, but always has her eye on the prize.
Priyanka Chopra was called on to give Ishani her voice. 'She's sassy and she really wants to win a world championship, but she has a really good heart. Ishani is so much like me"she is Indian, eloquent, well-spoken and sexy. Having worked on more than 40 films, it's so rewarding to literally breathe life into a character like Ishani. I'm very passionate about my work."
Ishani's allure is also reflected in her design. Her eyes have a smoky look, not unlike Chopra's, which helped create the feminine look that was critical to her design. Says Hofstedt, 'Ishani's eyes had to be extra appealing. It's Disney tradition that the eyes of female characters are a little more curvy in shape. We might bring the lids down a bit so they're cutting into the iris and pupil. Glen Keane did it in -The Little Mermaid'; Mark Henn did that with Jasmine in -Aladdin.' We looked at the difference between Thumper and Thumper's girlfriend in -Bambi.'"
Also showcasing Ishani's exotic appeal is a henna tattoo that stretches over the top of her wings and across her fuselage. The tattoo was researched and designed by Carlson and executed by character designer Scott Seeto.
Armed with stellar instincts, incredible aerial abilities and outstanding service records, Bravo and Echo are two of the Jolly Wrenches' top troops. These fighter jets happen to be avid air-racing fans, too, with a special affinity for Dusty, who's adopted their Jolly Wrenches insignia. And as far as the racers are concerned, it doesn't hurt to have a couple soldiers nearby should any plane falter under the immense pressure of the world's most rigorous rally.
'Top Gun" vets Val Kilmer and Anthony Edwards take to the skies once again"sort of"to voice the characters. 'Dusty gets lost in the air space of an aircraft carrier that Bravo and Echo are patrolling," says Edwards. 'So we escort him back to the carrier to make sure he's safe. I know if I were ever in trouble, I'd want these guys to have my back."
'Anthony and I were such great rivals in -Top Gun,' we always had so much fun on set," says Val Kilmer. 'And I've always thought so highly of Anthony, especially with his success on -ER.' So it was really great to find out that we would both being working together on -Disney's Planes.'"
Roper, an irascible race official pitty, delivers the rules for the North American Wings Around the Globe time trials with a matter-of-fact personality and a wry sense of humour. In fact, Roper never misses an opportunity to offer his own take on the events that unfold. With sly remarks and colourful commentary, Roper is funny but firm in his dealings with the race and the racers. Filmmakers tapped Sinbad for the voice of Roper.
Brent Mustangburger is an American sports-broadcasting icon. With the self-proclaimed 'best stall in the garage," the excitable 1964½ Ford Mustang is widely considered one of the most recognisable voices in the history of sports television and associated with some of the most memorable moments in modern sports. Brent Musburger"naturally"gives voice to the broadcaster.
Affable blimp Colin Cowling attended the prestigious Zeppelin Broadcasting School and began his career as the play-by-play voice for the Pacific Coast Balloon Races. He got his big break"so to speak"when his Eye-In-The-Sky-In-Sports weekly recap show was noticed by producers of Racing Sports Network (RSN). ESPN's Colin Cowherd provides the voice of the blimp.
Filmmakers turned to Oliver Kalkofe to voice both Franz and Fliegenhosen. Franz is a meek German minicar with a very special feature: He can fly! Without his wings, he's a mild-mannered superfan who would do anything for Dusty, including manning his Cropwatcher blog in an effort to build the rookie plane's fan base. Franz figures if an unknown crop duster can keep up with the best in the world, maybe his own high-flying dreams aren't so crazy after all. With a flip of his wings, Franz's airborne alter ego Fliegenhosen emerges and superfan turns uberfan"brash, brazen and fearless. Fliegenhosen looks down on his schpineless four-wheeled counterpart, and his warring personalities don't see eye to eye on anything except the source of their inspiration: Dusty.
Originally from Bridgeport, Conn., Harland was always interested in working in airport ground support, but his first job was towing stages at the Woodystock Music Festival. Then he worked for the US Postal Service in Boston for 11 years, but when he got the chance to work for JFK airport, he jumped at the opportunity to tow passenger jets. In his spare time, Harland invented a widely used environmentally safe packing material. John Ratzenberger provides the voice of Harland.
Tripp, a plane inspired in part by American Airlines' new 777-300ER, among other aircraft, makes a cameo appearance in 'Disney's Planes." Tripp, who meets Dusty at JFK airport in the film, dons American Airlines' new look, complete with the company's newly developed Flight Symbol and stripes on his tail.
Can It Fly?
Filmmakers Call on Aviation Experts to Make 'Disney's Planes" Fly
Making 'Disney's Planes" fly"literally"called for a unique combination of research, collaboration and a lot of hard work. 'We found early on that with tires on the ground, the characters felt real," says Klay Hall. 'But once they took off"once we had to make something turn in a three-dimensional space"it was significantly harder. At first, they looked like toys hanging on strings in the air."
Filmmakers called on Jason McKinley ('Red Tails") to serve as flight specialist for the film. Jason McKinley, creator, producer and director of the 'Dogfights" series for the History Channel, specialises in designing flying effects for film and television. 'With every flying scene, there's a giant sky," says Jason McKinley. 'You're flying around at 300-400 miles an hour and the space you take up is huge. So we wanted to get that massive feeling of space and speed to the audience."
Charged initially with getting the team from the storyboard phase of production through the pre-visualisation"or previs"phase, Jason McKinley was ultimately responsible for making the flight scenes look authentic and, as Klay Hall puts it, cool. 'Jason McKinley helped the team make these scenes look real"the inertia of the planes moving through the air, the weight of the aircraft on the turns, the landings and the takeoffs all became so cool. We were amazed by what Jason McKinley was able to bring to these sequences."
Jason McKinley's key strategy reflects John Lasseter's truth to materials: real size, real speed. 'The planes have to be a real size, the set has to be real size, and you have to fly the plane at the speed it can actually fly," he says. 'The human eye is very attuned to motion"we've all seen a bird fly or thrown a ball. We've built in our brains a library of motions and how those motions are supposed to look. The second you veer from the laws of physics, everybody can tell that it doesn't look right."
Prior to joining the team behind 'Disney's Planes," Jason McKinley had already done extensive research to understand the core capabilities of individual aircraft"maximum turn rate, maximum roll rate, maximum speed. 'It's important to be aware of the limitations of each plane," he says. 'El Chu is bigger than Dusty. His turns will be unique. We wanted to avoid letting a plane turn too fast or roll too fast. When they do that, they start to look fake"like models on strings."
Jason McKinley applied his knowledge to nearly 800 flight shots in the film"his favourite sequence, however, is Dusty's entry into the racing world when he competes in the North American Wings Around the Globe time trials. 'This is the moment that he changes," says Jason McKinley. 'He goes from being a crop duster to becoming a legitimate air racer. We wanted to make it a huge moment and we ended up with a 50- to 60-shot sequence."
Jason McKinley's expertise also influenced how the sets were built for the flight scenes and even camera placement. Thomas Leavitt, aerial previs artist, says that the sets were critical to realistic flight. 'We realised that if we didn't have a foreground, a mid-ground and a distant background, the appearance of flight would just fall apart."
The solution was often a matter of expanding the sets to allow for the real speed of the aircraft. Leavitt adds that the sets ultimately helped in terms of camera placement, since even animated films have to position cameras in places that are real and logical. 'We might put a camera on a silo on the ground, stick it on the wing of the plane or on a plane that could be flying alongside it. It's like complex dance choreography when we map out the best placement of characters and cameras in a single flight sequence."
One of the hardest aspects of applying authenticity to the flight scenes, say filmmakers, was in maintaining the needs of the story. 'Our characters are having conversations while they're flying," says Leavitt. 'Conversations naturally involve gestures, which would be fine, but with a plane flying at a real-life speed, a simple gesture would alter his entire flight path. So we had to work hard to find the right balance."
Helping to ensure the authenticity of the flight was Sean Bautista, who became a licensed pilot in high school, went on to fly a variety of aircraft"from Cessnas and Pipers to F4s, F16s and commercial 747s"and has logged several thousand flight hours during the course of his career. 'I was able to answer technical questions like, -How do you up the horsepower on a turboprop crop duster?'"
Bautista showed the production team how to boost Dusty's competiveness through specialised maneuvers he might master before entering the racing circuit. He lent his flying expertise to the production when it came to the look of the assorted aircraft and the flight itself"taking some members of the production crew on research flights. He also helped authenticate some of the dialogue. 'We'd go out to lunch and they'd flip on the tape recorder and ask me to talk like a military pilot or traffic controller. These guys don't talk in normal jargon"it's sort of shorthand and harder to understand. But incorporating the real thing really makes it feel right."
Filmmakers opted to record actual airplanes to bolster the validity of the flight scenes. 'We recorded crop dusters for Dusty, some old bi-planes, a twin engine aircraft and even a Navy F-18," says McKinley, who adds that watching the planes approach at 200 miles per hour during the recording process was an exhilarating experience.
Three-Time GRAMMY®-Winning Composer Mark Mancina Makes Score Soar
Award-winning composer Mark Mancina, who won a GRAMMY® for Best Soundtrack Album (with Phil Collins) for his work on Disney's 1999 feature 'Tarzan," produced and composed the score for 'Disney's Planes." The music reflects the diverse characters and global setting featured in the story.
'All of the themes are based on the background and location of the characters," says Mark Mancina. 'Dusty is our middle-America character. Skipper is the old-school military hero. Ripslinger is too cool for school."
Mark Mancina created the themes utilising a wide range of instrumentation. The 80-piece orchestra includes a variety of string instruments, from electric and acoustic guitars to Sitars. The score features a mariachi band, plus samba, techno music, Polka, Arias and heavy metal. The composer also employed a 22-voice men's choir. 'Of course, we have multinational music as well"British, Indian, Mexican"to name a few."
Filmmakers turned to a rock band to open the film using a track titled 'Nothing Can Stop Me Now," which illustrates the desire that Dusty has to become a racer. The contemporary rock track features driving guitars designed to propel moviegoers into the story. Mark Holman wrote and performed the song, which was produced by the legendary producer and mixer Ed Cherney. The song itself is used as a background vocal, and the reprise is used as the first end-credit vocal.
Mark Mancina says the climactic conclusion of the film features nine minutes of intense musical storytelling that proved challenging, but helped filmmakers showcase the emotional finale of Dusty's lofty endeavour.
'Disney's Planes" also features original songs 'You Don't Stop – NYC," written by Ali 'Dee" Theodore and performed by Chris Classic and Alana D., and 'Fly," written by Jon Stevens and John Fields and performed by Jon Stevens of The Dead Daisies.
Music from 'Disney's Planes" will be released by Walt Disney Records Aug. 6 featuring the following tracks.
1. Nothing Can Stop Me Now* Performed by Mark Holman
2. You Don't Stop – NYC** Performed by Chris Classic and Alana D
3. Fly Performed by Jon Stevens of The Dead Daisies
4. Planes Score
5. Crop Duster Score
6. Last Contestant Score
7. Hello Lincoln/Sixth Place Score
8. Show Me What You Got Score
9. Dusty Steps Into History Score
10. Start Your Engines Score
11. Leg 2/Bulldog Thanks Dusty Score
12. Skipper Tries to Fly Score
13. Dusty & Ishani Score
14. The Tunnel Score
15. Running on Fumes Score
16. Get Above the Storm Score
17. Dusty Has to Ditch Score
18. Skipper's Story Score
19. You're a Racer Score
20. Leg 7 Score
21. Skipper to the Rescue Score
22. Dusty Soars Score
23. 1st Place Score
24. A True Victory Score
25. Honorary Jolly Wrench Score
26. Skipper's Theme (Volo Pro Veritas) Score
27. Love Machine Performed by Carlos Alazraqui and Antonio Sol
28. Ein Crop Duster Can Race (Bonus Song) Performed by Dave Wittenberg
29. Armadillo Score
Release Date: Thursday 19th September, 2013 (NSW, VIC, QLD)
Thursday 26th September, 2013 (WA, SA, TAS, ACT, NT)