Find Dory in theaters

Since the debut of The Pixar classic Finding Nemo, people of all ages have continued to enjoy this timeless animated flick. Luckily, this summer, Pixar is inviting us back into the undersea world of Nemo, Marlin and Dory with Finding Dory. Reuniting the original creative team with director Andrew Stanton ,producer Lindsey Collins and the voice talents of Ellen Degeneres as Dory and Albert Brooks as Marlin, Finding Dory promises another great adventure and certainly the heartwarming moviegoing experience audiences have grown to expect from Pixar. The Daily Trojan  had the opportunity to interview Stanton and Collins in anticipation for the June release of their new movie.

As both Stanton and Collins worked in the world of Nemo previously, as well as numerous other Pixar films, returning to these characters was an exciting opportunity they couldn’t pass up.

“I think we definitely feel like, you know, it’s the burden of responsibility to make sure that this movie is worthy of Nemo and certainly we go in with those goals on any film, but this one in particular, you know, I think we’re obviously having 13 years go by,” Collins said. “There’s a lot of thought as to whether or not the story feels like it needs to be told.”

Since Pixar films, and animated films in general, take about four years to produce from development to story to animation, and Stanton recognized the importance of a good initial story in order to be willing to work for that period of time.

“We knew how hard it was to make the first one, and four years of work, you have to make sure it’s something that you love telling so much that you, even when it’s not working on year three, you’re still gonna get out of bed and work on it. So we had to make sure that this idea was the same,” Stanton said about the process of making the film.

Finding Dory takes audiences on a new underwater adventure as Dory, a blue tang fish with short-term memory loss, searches for her long-lost family and discovers the true meaning of family along the way. Stanton teases the wide-array of new characters and new locations audiences will encounter throughout the film.

“The ocean is a huge place. There’s so many other species. There’s so many other locations, it’s kind of almost infinite. The hard part was kind of paring it down to what would be our favorite types of species to have, but probably our main one that maybe people have now seen in the trailers and photos of is of Hank, the octopus, which is a kind of a creature that we could have never done in the first movie,” Stanton said.

Of the character Hank, Stanton said he could never have been created back in the later 1990s and early 2000s due to the lack of technology, but due to the massive advancements in 21st century animation, Hank, as well as a few other characters and locations, come to life in the film.

“He still almost broke the bank and we got a beluga whale, Bailey. We’ve got Destiny the whale shark. We’ve got a lot of natural sea life that’s around the California coast,” Stanton said. You’ve got sea lions, your otters, your loons, so even though we’re going back to a lot of familiar characters — we’ve really broadened the glossary.”

Stanton and Collins discussed the storytelling process and how the creative team explores unique storyline options.

“[Stanton] always says that these stories are like archeological digs, that you start off thinking that you’re digging for one character and you’re like oh, that’s definitely a Triceratops, and then all of sudden you’re like, ‘Oh, no, it’s a water buffalo,’” Collins said. “It’s such a process of discovery and being willing to kind of let that go or kind of try new things if it is not working. So this movie was definitely no different. It was always centered around Dory, always centered around her finding out where
she is from and where her family is.”

The movie-making process was also more enjoyable, according to Collins and Stanton, thanks to Degeneres. Stanton discussed the origin of Dory and how without Degeneres the character wouldn’t have existed in the first place.

“I was in the middle of starting to write this movie that I didn’t even know was going to be called Finding Nemo at the time. It was just this fish movie and I read somewhere the fact that goldfish have a memory of three seconds, and I thought that was hilarious, and I wanted to come up with a character with short-term memory loss, but I couldn’t figure out how to write it without it being kind of annoying or repetitive,” Stanton said.“ And then I happened to have the TV on and I heard her on her show change the subject of sentence five times. “And the way she did it, which we’re all familiar with now, was so special it completely opened my eyes and I got out of my writer’s block.”

Degeneres, who has been advocating for a sequel to Finding Nemo on her daily talk show for years now, was involved with the filmmaking process from the beginning this time around and had more than 500 lines, each of which she recorded multiple times, which Collins cited as a significant help in the movie-making process.

“So she was a champ and it was always so refreshing when we would hear her read the part, because it just brought it to life … Nobody quite does it like Ellen,” Collins said.

Additionally, according to Collins, the casting department at Pixar even used segments from Degeneres’ talk show when casting roles to listen to how compatible the voices were.

“Whenever we’re casting our movies, we have to have kind of mock conversations, between characters, because what we’re really doing is listening to hear kind of how they sound against one another and often… But the lovely thing when one of your main characters is Ellen DeGeneres, is she has talked to, and they’re in video and audio, of her talking to almost everybody,” Collins said. “So, when we would come up with somebody that we thought might be great, we would instantly go on to EllenTube or YouTube and just say, she must have been with this person.  We would kind of listen and audition voices against hers that way. So in some way, it made our editors’ jobs a lot easier when we were casting the movie.”

Pixar movies are known to pull on the heartstrings for people of all ages, and Stanton believes that the reason Pixar movies resonate with so many people is due to the emphasis the creative teams place on the story and the characters. According to Stanton, Finding Dory’s heartwarming message is no different.

“I think basically identity, whenever I’m writing I kind of smell what I think that I want the movie to be about, then we get to refine and discover what I really care about. And I realize that I felt that Dory saw her short-term memory loss as a burden, or as a handicap, and we love her for it” Stanton said.

Stanton expanded on the character of Dory and the complexities behind her personality.

“I wanted her to see and like herself as much as the rest of the world liked her and all the other characters in the movie, and I realized that it’s a bit of a metaphor for everybody.” Stanton said. “Everybody has something about them that’s not perfect, maybe they put themselves down on, but it’s actually what’s making you special and unique, and you learn as you grow older to own that part of yourself and to embrace it, and know that’s what makes you different than somebody else in a good way.”

While the young children who saw Finding Nemo in theaters are now in college, Finding Dory will provide the children of an entirely new generation the chance to experience the characters and the world that has remained a part of everyone’s lives for the past 13 years. According to Stanton and Collins, Finding Dory will only enhance audiences love of the world of Nemo, Marlin and Dory. When Finding Dory swims into theaters on June 17, people around the world will experience yet another funny, sweet story from the colorful, animated world beneath the sea.