Thank you to Disney for covering my press trip expenses. All thoughts and words are my own.
While visiting Disney Toon Studios on our press trip we had the amazing opportunity to speak with Planes Director Klay Hall and Producer Traci Balthazor-Flynn. We did a number of awesome things during our trip, but this was definitely one of the highlights. Not only was Disney Toon Studios a cool place to be, but hearing the passion Klay and Traci had for the film was beyond inspiring.
A Dream Come True
One new fact I learned right away was that Klay was actually working on a movie about trains when John Lasseter (Planes Executive Producer and Cars Director) said “Hey, why don’t we do planes instead?” Klay’s was happy to make the switch. He told us, “You know, I grew up in an aviation family. My dad was a pilot in the Navy and he learned to fly from my grandfather.”
“So aviation has been in the Hall family blood for quite awhile,” he continued. “He passed that love on to me, so at an early, early age, when I was a little guy, I was learning a lot about airplanes and actually drawing them as my dad would talk about it. My second passion was to draw, as I mentioned [sic] so to have those two worlds collide was really unbelievable, a dream come true.”
A Family Affair
I’ll be honest, after watching the clip, many of us had misty eyes or a few tears. The passion for flying and the family connection were amazing pieces to the movie, and it made me love the movie even more. Two of the minor planes in the movie are named after Klay’s sons, and the Skipper character is based on Klay’s father and the Skipper plane is modeled after the plane his father flew.
After watching this bonus feature and the Top 10 Flyers bonus feature we broke off into smaller groups to complete three sets of interviews. I shared the Planes Pre-Vis Development Team interview and I have an upcoming one with the Storyboard Artists. My group spoke to Klay and Traci as our last round-table and this time we had the opportunity to ask them questions.
Q&A with Klay and Traci
One of the first questions that was asked is just how many people worked on Planes. I was a little amazed when Traci noted, “We were probably up to six hundred total, when you think about everyone who touched this film.” Klay followed up with, “Four and a half years, six hundred folks.” That’s a lot of people over a huge stretch of time for one movie!
It was also asked what the next project would be. “If we knew, we’d be able to tell you,” Traci responded. The follow up question focused on the process for finding the next idea. “…We’ll sit down with John [Lasseter], Traci, and myself, and then several other creative folks.” Then they hash out ideas on what they’d like to do. I’m personally rooting for the trains movie that Klay originally was working on.
Klay Hall’s Office
After our chat, Klay was kind enough to offer us a tour of his office. He described it as being a little geeky as he has lots of movie memorabilia. There’s also lots of items related to planes, trains, and other motorized things. If you have to spend some of your day in an office, that’s the kind of office I would want to work in, also!