A major high point of my recent trip to L.A. was our visit to Disney Toon Studios, to spend time with the talent behind Disney’s hit animated movie “Planes”. During that visit, our group had the horror of chatting with the movie’s Director Klay Hall and Producer Traci Balthazor-Flynn. Below you’ll find some highlights of that chat, and why “Planes” was a real family project for this director.
KH: I grew up in an aviation family. My dad was a pilot in the Navy and, ah, he learned to fly from by grandfather. So aviation has been in the Fall family blood for quite awhile, and he passed that love on to me, so at an 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. So in a lot of ways this was like a dream come true for me to be able to do an animated movie about airplanes. My second passion was to draw, as I mentioned…to have those two worlds collide was really unbelievable, ah, ah, a dream come true.
KH: My son’s got to join me and we went for a ride. You’ll see all that (see below video). It was a special moment in my life to experience that.
Bonus Clip: Family Flying
Q: What brought you onto the project, originally?
CH: Great question. The origin, how it all began. First of all, it was about four and half years ago. So, I had just finished my previous movie, with John Lasseter, and I was in that phase of what are we gonna do next? And him and I had become pretty good friends… We found out that we a had a common passion about all things sort of mechanical.Trains was a big one, planes, cars, all that kind of stuff, you know. So I was kicking around ideas and originally, I started thinking about a steam engine, really sort of a transcontinental railroad story. It wasn’t anywhere from the world of cars. It actually was gonna deal with humans and animals and all that kinds of stuff, and I was gonna tell this tale, this story of the railroad. And, and he’s very excited, you know, we’re both history buffs as well, and it was really coming along and it was shaping up so to speak, as far as stories go, but then out of the blue one day- he likes to tell the story and it’s true, he was flying in the jet from Pixar to Disney Studios, and an epiphany hit him on the way. He landed and he literally called me up, and he’s like, Klay, I know you’re working on the trains thing, and that’s cool and all but what do you think about doing one about Planes and making it from the world of cars? And I was like, WOW, totally, I like it John. True story.
Q: Do you think you will take the locomotive train further after you’re done with all of this?
CH: I hope to. Yeah, I mean, you never know. I would love to tell the story sometime. Yeah, I love, I love steam trains.
Q: Will it be in the same world?
CH: I think so. I think so.
Q :How many people total worked on the Planes project?
TB: We were probably up to six hundred total, when you think about everybody who touched the film, yeah.
CH: Four and a half, four and half years; six hundred folks.
Q: Are there any characters in Plans that have their own spinoff?
CH: Things that they’ve discussed that’s not in the works just yet, but there are several different characters that are popping that I could see that happening. I’m not sure. That’s the honest answer.
1. Planes 2 will include fire and rescue, and is already in production. Estimated release date is July 2014.
2. Klay’s favorite character in the movie is El Chupacabra. Traci’s is a Dottie.
3. The size of the planes, and the propellers were a consistent challenge while making this film. Always in the way of showing expression!
Celebrate Disney’s Planes during Aviation Month, avaible on Blu-ray/Blu-ray+3D/DVD/Digital Copy on 11/19/13!
I am working with Disney, Marvel, and Dreamworks as part of this event. They provided me with travel, food and lodging in exchange for my coverage. All opinions expressed are still honest and my own. Photo credit on-site Disney photographer .