Story Theater Movie of the Week for Jan. 2-4

Staff Writer
Story City Herald
Story Theater Movie of the Week for Jan. 2-4

Big Hero 6 (rated PG for mild action; and with a running time of 105 min.) will be held over at the Story Theater this weekend, Jan. 2-4, with showings at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and a special Sunday afternoon matinee at 4 p.m. There will be NO Sunday night show this weekend.

On Location

Filmmakers decided to set their action-packed story in an all-new world that embraced the Japanese influences, but provided a fresh setting unlike anything audiences had ever seen. “I thought about San Francisco,” says director Don Hall, “which is cool, but I thought ‘What if it was San Francisco mashed up with Tokyo.’ It felt more interesting as a setting - more playful and exotic. It was something we could create. And the visual possibilities of those two cities - which are pretty different aesthetically-mashed together felt like a really cool place to set the story.”

“San Francisco has so many incredible landmarks and such a rich history - it’s a world-class city,” says producer Roy Conli. “Tokyo - with its neon lights and energy - is amazingly beautiful. The two of them combined is the ideal location for this film.”

Filmmakers traveled up the California coast to visit the first of the two cities. “We spent three days just driving around the city, hitting the Golden Gate Bridge, Coit Tower, Market Street and Japantown,” says Hall. “We spent some time on Angel Island.”

The team viewed the city from the ground, logging many miles on foot, and in the air, with breathtaking helicopter rides. According to Hall, filmmakers used San Francisco for more than just inspiration. “We literally wanted our setting to geographically be San Francisco.”

Concept Art

Artists turned to a software program that basically provided them with the blueprint for San Francisco-from the layout of the streets to lot sizes, business zones and residential zones. “You can plug in something like the county assessor’s map of San Francisco,” says production designer Paul Felix. “Then we could break it down further and specify the types of buildings we wanted on a particular parcel of land or district. We could do some prototypes, and those would be expanded procedurally within the program to give variety. No two buildings are alike, but they’re all similar.”

“It actually looks like San Francisco from a distance,” adds Driskill. “It has the right buildings in the right place, and they’re the right size. It wasn’t all made up-it was actually crafted from real data so that it would look authentic.”

Artists stylized everything to make it uniquely San Fransokyo-some hills are steeper and some buildings downtown would be shockingly tall in real life, but it all started with actual geography.

According to Felix, Tokyo lends aesthetic elements. “We adopted Tokyo’s visual styling of the architecture,” he says. “We were inspired by the urban design in Tokyo-the giant public works and the density, and even how some of the streets are organized: there are minimal sidewalks in some areas, for example. We wanted to make sure that we captured those ideas so the audience would feel that this could be in an Asian country.”

Artists filled the city with signage-a graphic designer was tapped more than two years ago to create the massive amount of designs needed to fill the vast city.

Home Sweet Home

Hiro and Tadashi Hamada reside with Aunt Cass in a home that’s situated above her bakery. Art director Scott Watanabe created the three-story look that aptly combines Japanese and Victorian design. Inside, artists decorated the home with a bohemian mindset. “There’s the hanging chair, spider plants, macrame and big color prints on the walls,” says Felix. “There are traditional Japanese furnishings-like a low dining table. And there’s also a Victorian motif with patterned wallpaper, but with a Japanese overtone.

“We wanted to make sure the house had a sense of history,” Felix continues. “It should feel improvised.”

Sounds Good

In a film where mash-ups are mainstream, it’s no surprise that the music blends composer Henry Jackman’s orchestral score with synth sounds and original music from American rock band Fall Out Boy. “Music is really the emotion of the movie, beautifully stitching the scenes together,” says director Don Hall. “We wanted a score that was melodic with prominent themes, while pushing technical boundaries with electronica music, too. Henry Jackman was able to weave it all together brilliantly.”

Jackman (“Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Wreck-It Ralph”) created a score that celebrates the comic-book style action of “Big Hero 6,” the embracing of technology and, of course, the special relationships that are forming. “There are a lot of cues that are kind of a hybrid - half-orchestral and half-record production,” says Jackman. “It would be very tempting to make robotic music for Baymax, and there are some synth textures, but as the story develops, you realize that the relationship between Baymax and Hiro is just the same as any other two leading characters. The drama between Hiro and Baymax is scored very personally and often with an orchestra. It’s one of the most intimate duos I’ve encountered in a film.”

Jackman used a 77-piece orchestra to score the film. “It’s very important to me in a score like this when there’s a lot of emotional content, as well as heroism and jeopardy and the rest, to allow the musicians to play together. If you can put everyone in a room together, it’s great. They bounce off each other.”

Fall Out Boy was tapped to write and perform the song for the film’s sequence in which the “Big Hero 6” team is transformed from a group of super smart individuals to a band of high-tech heroes. Their mission? To help Hiro unmask the villain and get to the bottom of what happened to Tadashi. “The idea of this kid stepping up on behalf of his brother is what inspired the song’s title ‘Immortals,’” says Patrick Stump. “Your victories aren’t exclusively yours, so the fact that all of these people are coming together to help him get to the finish line is really exciting.”

“They’re testing out their new super suits for the first time in the scene,” says Pete Wentz. “Some of it works, some of it doesn’t. You get the sense that they’re stepping into a bigger role. The story’s in the DNA of Fall Out Boy. It is an authentic story and it’s who our band is. We’ve always identified with the underdog.”

The band felt a connection to the filmmakers, sharing interests and creative passion. “We got to see bits of the movie before we wrote the song and the thing that struck me was how invested the people working on this film were in these characters,” says Patrick Stump. “We could feel their energy. Their dedication is inspiring.”