I recently attended a screening of the “Bao” followed by a making-of presentation with Director Domee Shi, Producer Becky Neiman and Production Designer Rona Liu at Pixar Animation Studios in California.
In Chinese, the word Bao actually means “precious treasure” or “steamed bun” depending on how it is used- both of which are perfecly paired with this sweet, emaotional Pixar Short.
Bao was four years in the making and is loosely inspired by Domee’s own life and mother. “Mom always treated me like her precious dumpling. We did everything together. When I was growing up she had that ‘creepy sweet love’ of a mom that wants to keep you with her forever.”
The film ties Chinese heritage, love of family and food beautifully in a very entertaining way.
Production Designer Rona Liu and Producer Becky Neiman-Cobb expressed how important it was to bring Director Domee Shi’s clear vision to life, from the concept art to the finished project.
Fun behind the scenes facts of the making of Bao
1. The mother in Bao is inspired by typical Chinese grannies, specifically Chinese grannies in Chinatown. Grannies who wear athletic shoes with floral shirts, make bold fashion choices.
2. Stripping it down. To keep the short and short that is focused on the two main characters, the process included some simplifying, the Bao team removed anything that might take the audience’s attention away from the relationship between the two characters, and anything that might date the film.
3. Drawing Bao started off as a side project for Domee, she just loves to draw food. Bao eventually grew into this incredible short film that revolves around her love of food and how we often use it to express our feelings.
4. The patterns and colors of mom’s clothing tell her story. Happy and bright patterns indicate when she’s happy and darker and dull clothing indicate times of depression and sadness in the film.
“Nothing you see is ever by mistake.” -Rona Liu “We want everyone to feel like they are with their mom.” – Becky Neiman-Cobb
After the screening and presentation we enjoyed a Bao inspired dinner that included, of-course dumplings, it was a delicious way to end the evening at Pixar Animation Studios!
My thoughts on the film
Spoiler alert! Bao within all of it’s seven or eight minutes is going to give you all the feels. I smiled, I laughed, I worried and I cried. I took in the story and kept it close, replaying it and thinking about it for days. I felt personal attached to this mother, our youngest daughter has recently flown the coop and it has not been easy for me to except. Yesterday she left for a month long visit to Indonesia. I am so not ready for her to be that far away and gone for that long, I feel this mother’s pain. I also feel pride and excitement for for our daughter and the beautiful, smart woman she has become, but the empty nest pain is real, I feel it. I had thoughts of hiding her passport or pretending the car broke down on our way to the airport, anything to stop her from going. If only she was a dumpling, I would have…oops no real spoilers here, you’ll have to experience it yourself by seeing the film. I am in-love with this adorable, meaningful short film and I can’t wait for everyone to see it.
“My mom was the dumpling queen. She’d always make dumplings from scratch and we would make dumplings together over holidays.” – Domee Shi
This demonstration gave the animation artists the chance to see firsthand how the dumplings are made, how they feel, and an idea of how they might move if were alive. They went above and beyond to master the animation and to make it as realistic as possible.
Follow the images and recipe below to try your hand at creating Ningsha Zhong’s dumplings.
Bao will play ahead of Pixar’s Incredibles 2 in theaters starting June 15th.
In INCREDIBLES 2, Helen (voice of Holly Hunter) is called on to lead a campaign to bring Supers back, while Bob (voice of Craig T. Nelson) navigates the day-to-day heroics of “normal” life at home with Violet (voice of Sarah Vowell), Dash (voice of Huck Milner) and baby Jack-Jack—whose super powers are about to be discovered. Their mission is derailed, however, when a new villain emerges with a brilliant and dangerous plot that threatens everything. But the Parrs don’t shy away from a challenge, especially with Frozone (voice of Samuel L. Jackson) by their side. That’s what makes this family so Incredible.
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INCREDIBLES 2 opens in theatres everywhere on June 15, 2018!
Watch for more Incredibles 2 updates be posted here soon! You can also read my previous blog posts about my day at Pixar Animated Studios for the Incredibles 2 Press Event by clicking here.
Disclosure: I was provided with travel, food and lodging in exchange for my coverage. All opinions expressed are still honest and my own. Some photos and images were provided by Disney/Pixar.