I received the following information as a blogger via Walt Disney Publications. While I attended an expense paid trip by Disney to the press events for The Good Dinosaur, Inside Out, and Miles From Tomorrowland, all opinions are 100% my own.Growing up my family was big on travel! My parents were always taking us on amazing vacations exploring not only the United States, but the world. I definitely count my blessings when I think back on those family trips. However, as much as I’ve explored the world internationally… one of my favorite spots is here in America… Yellowstone! I couldn’t be more excited when Peter Sohn, the director of THE GOOD DINOSAUR sited places like Jackson Hole, the Grand Tetons, and Yellowstone as his inspiration for the backdrop of the film.
We met Sohn at Pixar Studios one evening for a presentation on THE GOOD DINOSAUR. He treated up to exclusive footage from the film! I laughed, I cried, and I wanted MORE. I definitely know which film I’m going to see on Thanksgiving 2015! Afterward he invited us to the Brooklyn Hearth for a good ole country “campfire” BBQ inspired by his film research trips. Now I will get to those events in a minute, but first let me tell you a little bit about Sohn. I had the pleasure of chatting with him and it was amazing to hear about his career in entertainment!Hailing straight from the Bronx, Sohn was all city boy! Heading out into the great outdoors was definitely an experience for him. Right after college, he worked at Walt Disney Studios and Warner Bros, before starting his career at Pixar. It was there he found himself in the art and story departments working on films such as FINDING NEMO, THE INCREDIBLES, RATATOUILLE (he also voiced Emile in the film!), and WALL-E. He later directed the short film PARTLY CLOUD and co-directed PONYO ON THE CLIFF BY THE SEA.
Now you may be looking at Sohn’s picture above thinking “boy… he looks familiar.” I’ll tell you why! Ever seen a little movie called UP? Sohn was the inspiration for the boy Russell! Plus he was also the inspiration for Squishy in MONSTERS UNIVERSITY!So as I mentioned above, Sohn invited us to a campfire presentation, that included Producer Denise Ream, Supervising Technical Director Sanjay Bakshi and Director of Photography – Lighting, Sharon Calahan. We dined on chili, cornbread, BBQ sliders, roasted potatoes, and of course…. S’mores! It felt like we were in Jackson Hole, not California! There was even a cowboy strumming on his guitar for us. So let’s get to the presentation… Sohn had never been out to the north west before. He had the story down to center around a sincere farm family (Arlo’s family). He was trying to think where to set the film. Sohn grew up watching western movies, and he remembers in CITY SLICKERS there is an opening shot of Wyoming in Tea Time Valley. Sohn mentioned he was then talking with Callahan, who lived in both Washington and Oregon. We saw some of her paintings in an earlier presentation and WOW is she amazing! Knowing the plot and concept of the film, Sohn started to see the famous Snake River as Arlo’s “Yellow Brick Road“.Arlo’s farmily farm inspiration was found in the Mormon Road Area. This is where the early Mormon centers established small farms. Sohn also wanted these large landscapes so that even a dinosaur would feel tiny and overwhelmed out there.In the film, the T-Rexes are actually “ranchers”, and one of the T-Rex is named Ramsey. It was fun to hear how she was actually inspired by a cowgirl that brought Sohn and his crew out in the mountains. Sohn described how she was a “legitimately a cowgirl with her horse and her dog, a saw, a gun and living out on her own in Colorado from months on end!”Sohn’s team really learned a new way of life experiencing the great outdoors. This new “western” lifestyle may have been a challenge at first, but just like Arlo in the film, they embraced it, and found a new sense of family with each other.Sohn quoted “You know this trip kind of changed my life. It’s going to sound really weird but I’ve seen Six Dippers. Coming from New York and going out there, the idea was ‘Let’s go and see a working ranch’.” Sohn’s experience of viewing these great mountains is the same sense that Arlo experiences them. Overwhelmed yet in awe at the same time of what he saw.
Back in reference to the river, it was amazing to hear how the river actually becomes a character, just like nature, in the film. It was the action of Arlo falling into the river and getting swept away that caused him such angst and anger towards it. However at some point, Arlo becomes at peace with the river. It is his “Yellow Brick Road” to home. As the film goes on, the river becomes more and more peaceful itself. Sohn credited Calahan and her beautiful river paintings for providing such inspiration. After Sohn came such eloquent thoughts the beauty and sereneness of the river, he told us a story how they actually lost one of their GoPro cameras in the rapids. Ooops! Guess the river still had a little bit of a “troublemaker” personality to it! I loved hearing all their camping, horse riding, hiking, rafting stories! Pixar Studios believers in creating an authentic environment in their films. This is exactly why Sohn and his crew headed out to the north west. Even from the 30-40 minutes of THE GOOD DINOSAUR footage I saw, you could tell the filmmakers truly had a sense of the great outdoors.
The Good Dinosaur Official US Trailer
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THE GOOD DINOSAUR opens in theatres everywhere on November 25th!
Now if your little one is excited for THE GOOD DINOSAUR as much as my little guy, you may want to check out these fun coloring and activity sheets to download and print! Plus check out my Dino Fossil eggs tutorial! This fun activity was inspired by the film as well. My son had such a blast creating the eggs (and eating them too!).
Want to see more of my adventures in San Francisco? Take a look at my Twitter (@AshBG) and Instagram (@ashb4211). Make sure you follow the hashtags #GoodDinoEvent, #InsideOutBloggers, #MilesEvent, and #Waltagram.