After Cars 2, the next Pixar film will be summer 2012's Brave and there was a wonderful image from the film on display at the Pixar office of the main character, Princess Merida (voiced by Kelly Macdonald), showing her with long, flowing, fiery red hair and holding a sword.
I mentioned to Lasseter that I was excited to see Pixar's first take on a female-centered story and he nodded, saying "So are we. At Pixar we've always strived to have strong female characters, but granted, all of our films have had male main characters – though female characters have been very, very important in most of the films. But it's nice to have a film where the female is the main character."
Added Lasseter, "It's also our first real, true period film. Incredibles is sort of a period film, in that it's set in a world that evokes the 60s. But this is really medieval Scotland and it's really fun to kind of go into this and to have this kind of legend and lore feel to it. But it's very, very modern in its main character and its arc and the desires and things. It's got phenomenal characters and the look of this thing is unlike anything you've ever seen. Even for Pixar, there's a gorgeous, unique look to this movie and it's very, very exciting."
New Disney movie set in Highlands may boost Scots tourism by millions
Tourist bosses in Scotland believe a new Disney cartoon fairy tale set in the Highlands - of which Hollywood got its first glimpse last week - could bring a multi-million pound visitor boom to Scotland, comparable to Braveheart, which won the best film Oscar15 years ago.
The new movie is Brave , dreamed up by Walt Disney and Pixar, and filmed in in stunning 3D. The film has a great line-up of Scots stars doing the voices - including Billy Connolly, Robbie Coltrane,Craig Ferguson and Kevin McKidd - with Glasgow girl Kelly Macdonald playing the lead role of Princess Merida. That's her character in our picture.
"The sky really is the limit," said Mike Cantlay, chairman of VisitScotland.
Although the film is not due in cinemas until June next year, things have really heated up since last weekend - when 1250 film executives from all over the world saw a clip of Brave in Hollywood. Now the film’s makers are said to working flat out to produce a special teaser trailer may be seen in Scottish cinemas and worldwide as soon as July, added on to the Pixar movie Cars 2.
Mike Cantlay said: “We’re absolutely thrilled about this upcoming film. Pixar simply don’t make bad films and for one of their films to be set entirely in the Highlands represents a massive opportunity for Scotland.
"As such, we’re already discussing with Pixar and Disney a potential partnership when the film is released.
"Scotland is still seeing the benefit of Braveheart which was released more than 15 years ago and Brave could be just as big.”
A Visit Scotland spokesman confirmed that talks were held last week between VisitScotland and Pixar. "Pixar are really behind this film in a big way. They are very excited about it."
One hope is that a gala premiere will be held in Scotland.
Brave tells the story of a courageous Scottish princess, Merida, who would rather be an archer than do girlie things! And that gets her into all sorts of trouble.
Kelly in fact replaced Reese Witherspoon, named earlier for the role This was said to be because of a scheduling conflict - but film insiders said Glasgow girl Kelly had a better accent.
Billy Connolly plays Merida's father King Fergus , and three lords provide comic relief: the enormous Lord MacGuffin (Kevin McKidd), the surly Lord Macintosh (Craig Ferguson), and the disagreeable Lord Dingwall (Robbie Coltrane) . Queen Elinor is played by Emma Thompson and Julie Walters is a wise woman who helps out Meridia .
The film is a reunion for Kelly and Kevin McKidd, now a doc in Grey’s Anatomy. Both appeared in Trainspotting.
Tourist bosses are hoping for a repeat of the Braveheart bounce 15 years ago when visitor numbers leaped as the movie starring Mel Gibson as William Wallace won best film at the Oscars.
Around 20 per cent of visitors said seeing Scotland in films or TV was "important or very important to their decision to book a Scottish holiday," according to a Visit Scotland survey. Block-busting titles that have contributed to this include The Da Vinci Code, Braveheart, Harry Potter, Rob Roy, Shallow Grave, Trainspotting, Chariots of Fire, Local Hero, and The Wicker Man .
For The Da Vinci Code film, VisitScotland struck an unprecedented partnership with the film's makers to generate more visitors to Scotland, the rest of Britain and France. Hopefully a partnership with Pixar will provide a ton of publicity.
Director Mark Andrews describes Brave as “an epic adventure full of action, humour and heart. There’s no more perfect setting for this powerful tale than the dark and rugged Scottish Highlands. Imagine: magic, mystery and danger—all set within a haunting and beautiful landscape.”
A trusted source confirmed moments ago that Pixar has hired Scottish musician and composer Patrick Doyle to score Brave.The story was first reported by Film Music Reporter in March, but didn't come to my attention until recently (thanks JV).
Princesses are normally a staple of Disney Animation, but next year Pixar will be crowning one of their own.
"Brave," opening on June 22, 2012, features what Lasseter calls a big departure for Pixar — the studio’s first female protagonist in 13 feature films. It’s a fairy tale come true for girls who’ve patiently waited their turn as the boys have gotten to play with Buzz Lightyear and WALL-E toys.
But don’t expect a sleeping beauty: Merida, the headstrong daughter of the king of the medieval
Scottish Highlands, is more comfortable with a bow in her hands, not in her hair.
"Merida is a princess, but she’s a kickass princess," Lasseter says. "She has a bow and a sword, she rides a big horse and battles bears."
It features a Who's Who of Scots talent, including Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Kevin McKidd, Robbie Coltrane and Craig Ferguson, alongside award-winning actresses Emma Thompson and Julie Walters.
But director Mark Andrews says the biggest star of the movie will be Scotland itself.....
...Mark said: "We spent a lot of time getting the research right. We have a midge in the film because everybody knows the midges in Scotland and we had to have one in there. "The accents were also a huge deal for us, and the way your mouth moves when speaking with a Scottish accent is quite unique so we had a linguistics expert come in and work with our team. We also got lots of help from the Scottish cast.
"We realised Scotland is so lush and so textured and everything is weathered and there's a history and a veneer on everything.
" We couldn't downplay that or come up with some simple graphic design that would come even remotely close....
...Mark said: "It's all about the relationship between a mother and daughter, and how this young woman has problems with her mother.
"When she has a problem with her mother over marriage, she gets a magic spell to try to stop her mother bothering her with the suitor business.
"But it actually changes her mother into a bear."...
...Mark added: "The performances the actors bring to the part will definitely make it into the characters. You will see Billy Connolly in Fergus, Craig Ferguson in Lord Macintosh and Kevin McKidd in Lord MacGuffin. And Kelly is definitely in Merida.
"You will definitely see all their qualities, just not their faces."...
(2page long article) about the Scottish cast and Composer...
Scotland's Pixar tale hits the right note
ADVERTISEMENT Published Date: 01 July 2011 By Tim Cornwell
IT ALREADY boasts a stellar line-up of Scottish acting talent and is tipped to follow the success of Braveheart in drawing in film tourist pounds.
Now Brave, the forthcoming 3D animated adventure story set in ancient Scotland and made by the team behind hits such as Toy Story and The Incredibles, has lured one of the country's leading film composers to craft its soundtrack.
Patrick Doyle, the award-winning writer of soundtracks from Henry V to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, will compose the score for the Pixar animation company's foray into the Highlands, The Scotsman has learned.
It adds to a formidable array of Scottish talent already involved in the production.
Meanwhile, along with returning for a second season of HBO’s acclaimed series set in Prohibition Era Atlantic City, MacDonald has another major project around the corner, voicing the heroine in Pixar’s upcoming “Brave.”
“I really, really can't contain myself about 'Brave,’” she says of playing the adventurous, rebellious archer Merida, the first central female character in a Pixar film. “It was something completely new. I'm not finished yet. I still have some things to do, but it's just such a different thing, and I didn't really have very much to go on. They had some animation to show me. I know what she looks like, but it's nowhere near completion. The animators have been working for years and years on this thing. With all the actors that they've brought onboard, that means it's nearing it's vision. I'm just so impressed that I'm getting to work with people who are brilliant. Pixar is the best company, I think.”
As anyone who's met him, watched his films, or seen him on screen will know, John Lasseter is a bit of a genius. A passionate perfectionist who's brought us Toy Story, A Bug's Life, Cars and more, it was our great pleasure to meet him when he came to town recently to promote Cars 2's release.
Well, it was our man Chris Hewitt's pleasure, anyway, hosting as he did the "Meet the Filmmaker" Q&A session with the Disney head honcho over at London's Apple Store.
In amongst answering the questions of, "Why do you like Hawaiian shirts so much?" and "Where can I find 'A113' in Cars 2?", he also spoke about Pixar's upcoming projects, namely the Monsters, Inc prequel, Monsters University, and Brave, the Emeryville boys' first attempt at a period piece.
For those not in the know already, Brave is set in medieval Scotland, and stars Trainspotting's Kelly Macdonald as the protagonist, a fiesty young girl called Merida, with Emma Thompson playing her mum, Queen Elinor, and Billy Connelly playing her dad, King Fergus.
Brave: - John Lasseter says the film is ‘unlike any we’ve made, the first fairytale for Pixar.” - Crews took two trips to Scotland to do their research for authenticity. - The forest is Merdia’s (the main character’s) second home. Merida and her mother do not see eye-to-eye. - In the story she must marry into one of three Lords’ families. The three candidates do not get along with one another and each has their flaws. - In this fantasy world, there are things called “wisps” which can either change your fate for the better or make it hell. - Looking for help to figure out a better direction in life, Merida follows a trail of these wisps to the home of a witch. The witch puts a spell on her which screws up her life further. Now in trouble, Merida must find a way to break the spell. - Director and producer play a scene from the film: The lords are competing for Merida’s hand in marriage. She gets to select which game they compete in. Being a skilled archer, she chooses archery. The first candidate is far off the target. The second is closer but not quite (he throws a tantrum once he misses the bullseye). The third doesn’t know how to shoot but nails the bullseye perfectly, to which the father of the third candidate brags to the other two fathers and goes so far as to flash his rear to them (this got huge laughs in the audience). Merida is not impressed by any of the three. She comes into the game area and decides to shoot “for my own hand in marriage.” Her mother isn’t happy with this and tries to get her to stop. Merida shoots at all three targets and nails each bullseye perfectly. On the third she shoots through the arrow that had already hit the bullseye by the third candidate.
Kelly Macdonald (Merida) and Kevin McKidd (Lord MacGuffin) take the stage and discuss what it’s like to be involved with the film. “It was like I was asked to play Woody,” said Macdonald
That brings me to “Brave”, which opened the Pixar segment but I went ahead to save the best for last. “Brave” is next years Pixar entry and it looks beautiful.
We were treated to a brief intro of “Brave” that finds Merida (Kelly Macdonald) right in the middle of horseback archery practice. She rides through the woods hitting targets while riding. As her horse approaches a fallen tree he stops short and Merida flies off. When she pulls her face from the mud she throws it back on to the horses nose who then blows it right back on her. The chuckling subsides when the horse picks up the scent of a bear.
After that opening tease, the directing/producing team of Mark Andrews and Katherine Sarafian arrived on stage to show us a few more things most audiences will never get to see. We were treated to early pre-vis storyboards and animatics of the film. First and foremost the film looks beautiful. A lot of people have compared the look to “How to Train Your Dragon.” However, the fact is that is exists during the same time period so things will look similar, but I feel like they a very different in tone. The official plot synopsis is as follows;
Since ancient times, stories of epic battles and mystical legends have been passed through the generations across the rugged and mysterious Highlands of Scotland. In “Brave,” a new tale joins the lore when the courageous Merida (voice of Kelly Macdonald) confronts tradition, destiny and the fiercest of beasts.
Merida is a skilled archer and impetuous daughter of King Fergus (voice of Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (voice of Emma Thompson). Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin (voice of Kevin McKidd), surly Lord Macintosh (voice of Craig Ferguson) and cantankerous Lord Dingwall (voice of Robbie Coltrane). Merida’s actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom, and when she turns to an eccentric old Witch (voice of Julie Walters) for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to discover the meaning of true bravery in order to undo a beastly curse before it’s too late.
Headstrong Merida is basically being forced to choose a suitor to marry. She feels doesn’t need a suitor and makes it very well known that she doesn’t agree with the idea of arranged marriages. The highlight of the Pixar presentation came in the form of an entire sequence from “Brave.” Below is a brief description and reaction.
Lord MacGuffin(Kevin McKidd), Dingwall(Robbie Coltrane) and Macintosh(Craig Ferguson) all arrive with their suitor sons to claim Merida’s hand in marriage. They are to take part in the Highland Games, a series of physical challenges to test their strength and worthiness. Merida decides that they must compete in an archery contest, a skill at which she more than excels in. They each take their time and struggle to hit their targets. The first two suitors aren’t even close to the target while the third mistakenly hits the bulls’ eye, which marks the end of the competition. However, at that moment, a new suitor arrives cloaked and forcefully plants his family’s flag in the ground announcing his intent to participate. As the crowd gasps at this 11th hour challenger, the mystery man pulls back his cloak to reveal, in fact, to be Merida who claims, “I’ll be competing for my own hand!”
Just then her mother Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson) begs for her daughter to stop what she is about to do, without a reaction from her daughter. Merida readies herself and in one move walks in front of each man, walking as she fires 2 arrows directly at her target. As she approaches the third target she takes a moment to ready herself. As her mother races to stop her she releases the third arrow. The scene plays out in slow motion and we get a shot very reminiscent of the bow work of Ridley Scott’s “Robin Hood”. The arrow wobbles slowly out of the bow and rights itself in the air. Her arrow proceeds to split the young mans arrow in half as it punctures the bulls eye.
I wish I were a better writer to describe how amazing that scene actually is on screen. It’s both humorous and very dramatic. That alone leaves me wanting more. Simply put, I cannot wait to see “Brave” next year.
It’s hard to fathom that Brave, Pixar’s next feature film, is still almost a year away. To date, fans have seen the exciting, yet deliberately non-revealing, teaser trailer, a few concept images, and that’s about it. The D23 Expo changed that, though, as attendees got a much better idea of what June 22, 2012 holds. Director Mark Andrews and producer Katherine Sarafian presented footage on Saturday while production designer Steve Pilcher and art director Tia Dratter explained the visuals on Sunday. Combining the two panels, we learned a ton of new information. Is the Pizza Planet truck in the movie? When does the film take place? What visuals changed with the new director? After the jump, read 10 brand new Brave facts.
1. Brave takes place in the 10th Century
It was more or less common knowledge that Brave takes place in ancient Scotland but there wasn’t confirmation of specifically when. Now we know. It’s the 10th century.
2. Merida is a bad ass
Most of us figured this out when we saw Merida, the main character voiced by Kelly Macdonald, stand up to a bear in the teaser trailer but the scene shown at D23 expanded on that significantly. Here’s how it went down. Minor spoilers ahead. The sons of three lords are competing for Merida’s hand (she happens to be a princess) in marriage. They’re all idiots. Meridia, an expert archer, decides she wants them to compete in an archery competition and each character, looking like the comedic rejects from Braveheart, bumble through the challenge. Of course, one randomly gets a bullseye. When her father, King Fergus (Billy Connolly), looks for a reaction, Meridia is gone. She reappears like Sith Lord, approaching the men with a hood on, announcing that she’ll be deciding who wins her heart. She flips down her hood, unleashing her huge mane of red hair (more on that later) and starts walking down the course. As she’s walking, without stopping, she nails the first bullseye. Then the second bullseye. As she approaches the third, her mother, Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson) screams at her not to do it. She defies her mother as, in slow motion, we see her fire the bow. Direct hit. Goosebumps.
3. Three is a magic number
Not only does Merida have three not-so-eligible suitors from three feuding lords, she has three identical twin brothers as well. And they’re a menace. Not even their mom can tell them apart, only Merida.
4. 80% of the movie used to be in snow, but the new director changed that
Originally, 80% of Brave was going to take place in the snow and for years, under the watchful eye of former director Brenda Chapman, Pixar was working to make it look just right. However, it apparently wasn’t working and when Mark Andrews took over as director, he decided the snow was out. At least that’s what Pilcher hinted at. Apparently, the directorial change was a “creative decision” and while much of Chapman’s vision is still there, Andrews is getting things done in a much faster manner.
5. Old is harder than new
In a computer, making something look slick and new is easy. Making it look old and worn is hard. Brave takes places centuries ago and everything in it has been around for centuries before that. So, layer upon layer had to be added to every single the object in every single frame. Trees, rocks, moss, etc. Plus, because all the colors had to look more muted because, in the 10th century, clothing was dyed.
6. Celtic and Pictish symbolism is everywhere
Drawing on the visuals of the era, the Pixar animators and designers have embedded Celtic and Pictish designs and patterns in almost all of the landscapes and other visuals. The individual snowflakes – most of which are gone – were designed as found patterns, and you can find all kinds of recognizable shapes and intersections in the tree branches, on the rocks, in the clothing, on the walls and much more.
7. The Pizza Planet truck IS in the movie
Even though it’s the 10th century, Dratter hinted that the Pizza Planet truck will appear in Brave. How is this possible? Well, at one point, Merida visits an old witch and while discussing how they populated the witch’s old, cluttered, rock home, Dratter stopped and dropped a hint. I’m sure there will be a pizza truck on the shelves somewhere.
8. 350 brushes were created for moss and rocks alone
In designing the look of the world, the Pixar animators and designers created around 350 custom brushes in Photoshop so they could layer different designs, patterns and shapes over each other to achieve a realistic and invisible look to all of the environments.
9. Wisps are blue
If you look at the teaser poster for Brave, you’ll see some blue things floating around. These are called wisps and are very important to they story. They’re spiritual, etherial beings (much like the kodama of Princess Mononoke) that give the film its fantastic side and it was decided they would be blue. The reason is because blue, somehow, is a spiritual and with all earthly palate of the film, it really helped them stand out visually.
10. Merida has a lot of hair, which was very difficult to manage
In the computer, the designers and animators created about 15 different levels of amplitude and frequency so they could give Merida’s flowing red locks in a bunch of varied looks depending on the situation. The hair, along with the snow and the aging environments, were the three most difficult challenges for animators and designers.
If you’ve made it this far, let’s throw in one more. This one is a minor spoiler:
11. The bear’s name is Mordu
One of the chief villains of Brave is a “demon bear” named Mordu, who looks like Jaws at the end of Jaws if he was a bear. Meaning, he mean and really messed up with stuff sticking out of him. Pilcher described him as “Moby thingy on land” and it was he who took the leg of King Fergus, Merida’s father, in a legendary battle.
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