My Exclusive Interview With BIG HERO 6 Directors Don Hall & Chris Williams
*I received an all expenses paid trip to Los Angeles for the coverage of several press events for Disney and ABC. All opinions are 100% my own and we only recommend shows that are a great fit for our readers.
I got to meet the directors of Big Hero 6; Don Hall and Chris Williams! Did I mention I also got to interview them?! I took a trip to Los Angeles last week to delve into how of Disney films are created, from the beginning to the end. Right now, Big Hero 6 is my 16 year old daughter’s favorite film, so OH. MY. GOODNESS! I am seriously the hero of my house right now; “Big Hero Mom” LOL We have now seen Big Hero 6 more than 10 times and my daughter has over 100 drawings of Baymax. I was excited to get some insight into how the film was created as well as how the characters came to life.
We’ll get straight into the interview. Don Hall and Chris Williams walked into the room and took their seats at the table right in front of me! Yes, I was on the front row 😀 I always go into these interviews with a list of great questions to ask, but it takes me about 10 minutes to get over being ‘star struck’ and just staring and trying not to drool; by then all of my great questions have been asked.
The very first question was asked: “How did you get on this project?”
Don Hall answered: I was finishing up “Winnie the Pooh”, started thinking about my next project and John Lassiter always asks the Directors to start with, ‘what are you passionate about?’ I started thinking about it and as a kid, I loved Disney Animation. Obviously that’s what brought me here, but I also loved Marvel Comics and it’s really where I learned to draw and tell stories and I’m not unique by the way. The entire Studio pretty much has that same story. I just happened to be the guy who brought it to the forefront.
I pitched John that idea and he got super excited and said go find something. It was that simple. It was a 5 minute conversation. And so I just made lists of stuff that I thought would be cool and I came across “Big Hero 6” having never read the Comic, I just thought it, I liked the title. I saw it on their website and I researched it further and it was a Japanese Super Hero team. I thought that that was cool. Then I read the Comics and I thought the tone was appropriate. It was light hearted, the Characters are fun. They had goofy names and you could tell the creators just loved Japanese Pop Culture that’s what they were trying to infuse into the Super Hero story.
We love Japanese Pop Culture as well, but not only that, you could see that there could be a really emotional story. Most important, you could see there could be an emotional story about this 14 year old super genius who loses his Brother and this robot who becomes his surrogate big brother. I pitched it along with about 5 or 6 other ideas to John and this is one he gravitated towards and said go.
Then Chris Williams chimed in: I remember so vividly,the day that Don first pitched Big Hero 6 to myself and the other Directors at Disney and when he talked about this and at that stage, you’re not pitching the whole story. You’re pitching just a seed of an idea and when he talked about this main character, who was going to lose his Brother, was going to be left with his creation, this surrogate older brother, it was so powerful, and I thought ‘man, that’s great.’ I really hope that John would respond and Green-light it and he did because for John, emotion is everything. It has to be funny, it has to be exciting, and you have to have thrilling action scenes, but if it doesn’t have that core emotion, then you’ve failed.
I saw it in this story and really, I feel like the last 3 and a half years has been about realizing that potential that Don laid out in that pitch. I remember where it was in the wall. I remember really responding to it. So, I was then thrilled when, a year or so later, Don asked me to join him.
So, there you go! It’s just that simple. Big Hero 6; the movie we have grown to love started with a “pitch”, just like anything else. It was an idea in the mind and heart of a Disney director who, by the way, also works on Winnie The Pooh!
Finally, we had the last question of the day, which was my favorite 😀 The question was asked: “Tell us a little about San Fransokyo.”
Don Hall answered : So, that decision kind of happened right after John picked “Big Hero 6” and I had a Meeting with the Marvel guys and communicated that to them and they were super thrilled but they said; ‘you know, don’t worry about setting this in the Marvel Universe. You don’t have to worry about that.’ You don’t have to worry about “The Avengers” or “Iron Man”; I don’t even think “Avengers” had come out at that point. They just said, we want to see what you do with it and create your own world, which was really encouraging for us so, I wanted to keep the Japanese aesthetic from the Comic Book because essentially, it’s a Japanese Super Hero team. The Marvel Universe is the real world. New York is New York and Tokyo is Tokyo. I wanted to keep the Japanese aesthetic from the Marvel Comic but mash it up with a City that would be very recognizable like San Francisco because of the Golden Gate Bridge and Cable Cars.
I think we created something really cool and new and just like the Movies and mash up of Disney and Marvel, I thought this City could be a mash up of eastern and western kind of things. I just thought that they would play well together and create something familiar, but sort of new as well.
Chris Williams : I think, for our Boss John Lassiter, world building is really important. Part of the experience for the Audience is being told a great story but another part is being taken to a world where you’ve never been, and it’s been a big part of Disney History as well. And so we love that idea of creating a world that is unique that the Audience would love to go to and I think, I hope we achieved it with, uh, San FranTokyo.
Don Hall: Look, I knew it would be an easy pitch. I mean, let’s be honest. It’s like John lives in San Francisco and he loves Tokyo so you know….
I am so excited that Big Hero 6 is finally coming out on DVD and Blu-Ray next week! Here we are at the W Hollywood with the directors of Big Hero 6; Don Hall and Chris Williams:
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Big Hero 6 comes to Digital HD & Disney Movies Anywhere on February 3 & Blu-ray February 24!