For more than a decade, Ellen Degeneres
hinted that she would be up for begged for a sequel of Finding Nemo. (Seriously, this video is one of my favorite, in which she makes fun of herself and creates the most epic buildup for the original announcement of Finding Dory). I had a chance to see it on Monday (stay tuned for our review!). Because I know Pixar always has really cool research for and stories from the production of their movies – and because it was beyond incredible to see the cast on stage at the D23 Expo last August as we got a sneak peek – I wanted to know more. Below, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite facts from behind the scenes of Finding Dory!
- As you may imagine, despite what she says in the above-mentioned video, Ellen was the only choice for playing Dory. Obviously. This led to an interesting bonus for the creators! When voice characters are chosen for an animated movie, they are not only chosen for their actual capacity to fill the role, but really as an ensemble of people that are both capable of doing the job and sound right together. In this case, director Andrew Stanton put it best: “[Ellen has] interviewed everybody in the world!” When they wanted to know how she sounded with various contenders, they didn’t have to waste any time putting together screen tests… they just watched clips of her show!
- When Finding Nemo was made, Dory was written with Ellen Degeneres in mind. Andrew Stanton shared from the D23 Expo stage (at just about the point when I screamed like a little girl to see Ellen, followed by most of the rest of the cast!) that he had began daydreaming about Dory’s parents while still working on Finding Nemo, and that he had always wanted Eugene Levy and Diane Keaton to play the parts. It turns out when you’re working on a sure-thing sequel of a smash hit movie for arguably the biggest company in animation history, you can often get what you want. Levy and Keaton are great as Charlie and Jenny.
- Hank, a septopus with a rough exterior and a soft heart, is the hardest character Pixar has ever created; one scene in particular took more than two years to finish! This video shows some really neat shots regarding how animators got the movement just right, the suckers on the tentacles to move the correct way, etc. Jason Deamer, Hank’s creator, wanted to capture how well mimic octopi can change not just their color, but the texture of their skin and how light affects their ability to blend in with their surroundings. He studied hundreds of high-definition pictures and videos and knew what he wanted, but it required a use of technology similar to, but far more advanced than, that used in Monsters Inc and Monsters University. “Nature is much more creative than I could ever be,” Deamer says, so the team worked hard to make it just right.
- Alexander Gould, the child who played the title character in Finding Nemo, has of course grown up in the time between the two films – despite their stories taking place just six months apart. The filmmakers loved working with him though, and wanted to honor him in Finding Dory – so you’ll hear “grown up Nemo” as a truck driver late in the movie!
- Just because Dory was in the original film didn’t mean they could create her exactly the same for this one. Technology has changed, so they had to balance using vast new possibilities without compromising the character we all know and love. They animated many of the scenes with images of 2003 Dory next to 2016 Dory to make sure they didn’t make her look strange to people who were excited to see her on screen again.
- When the model was being made for Hank in early production, they made the tentacles separate from the body. When only 7 would fit, but they began to think it appropriate for Hank to be a “septopus”. After all, why would he be in a rehabilitation center? He had to have a reason, an injury or illness. Now if only we knew just what happened…
Finding Dory by the numbers
Check out these statistics from Disney/Pixar… and imagine how tedious and difficult the job is of animators and filmmakers!
- 16,091 fish are swimming in the Open Ocean exhibit at the Marine Life Institute
- 5000 stingray were created for the stingray migration scene
- 1108 fish are in the quarantine area of the Marine Life Institute
- 746 people are seen visiting the Institute
- 51 minutes of the film include crowds of characters
- 350 suckers are found in total on Hank’s tentacles
- 118 weeks were spent bringing Hank to life for the screen
- 22 weeks were spent on Hank’s shading alone, including making him camouflage in a number of scenes
- 4 Oscar nominations went to 2003’s Finding Nemo, which went on to be the first Pixar movie to win Best Animated Feature
And because screen tests and recording sessions are always my family’s favorite thing to watch on youtube and BluRay special features, check out this footage, captured as the cast of Finding Dory recorded their parts:
And just in case you want more…
This month, my friend Becca at Love Our Crazy Life has organized the most epic, super fun collection of Finding Dory posts – from bloggers around the world – in honor of the film’s release. Head over there to find DIY clothes, Walt Disney World and Disneyland tips (as well as tips for your child’s first visit to the theater), Finding Nemo and Finding Dory snack ideas and recipes, crafts, activities and games you can play at home – and so much more. It’s a really neat list of Dory-related topics, and so extensive you’re sure to find something (and maybe a new-to-you website!) you just love.