Planes: Fire and Rescue DVD with Bobs Gannaway and Ferrell Barron

Getting to sit down and talk with Director Bobs Gannaway and Executive Producer Ferrell Barron for a second time was quite the treat.  Feeling a little special that they remembered chatting earlier this year, I was curious if they had some new stuff to share.  For the most part, our chat was similar as we spoke about Planes: Fire and Rescue.  With the coming out of the movie on DVD and Blu-ray, read what these two fantastic men had to say.

Ferrell Barron (left) and Bobs Gannaway (right)


Planes: Fire and Rescue DVD with Bobs Gannaway and Ferrell Barron


First question, is there going to be a third Planes?

Bobs:  Oh.

Ferrell:  First one.  First question.  Hard reporter.

Bobs:  You know, what’s interesting about Disney Toon Studios is John Lasseter is such a wonderful, creative leader.  He’s a filmmaker, you know, which is great, to have a fantastic filmmaker, sort of heading the studios that he oversees.  Disney Animation Studios.  And Pixar.  Disney Toons.  And, so, these things take so long to make.  You know, it’s five years of your life.  And that’s one of those things we’re always like even though this came out a year later, still, we didn’t make it in a year.

Ferrell:  Long time.

Bobs:  And so, they can’t feel like assignments, because they are something that you’re going to basically pour yourself into.  So he really waits for his filmmakers to be inspired by something, and to go out there, and research it, and meet the people, ride in the vehicles, and come back and tell him and everyone on the team, like, what you’d discovered that was cool.  And “did you know”, and “can you believe it”, and “I’ll bet you didn’t realize” — and all of these sort of things.  And, so it takes a long time, so, um, yeah.  We hope to make more stories in this world, but we will wait until we find the right thing.  That everybody kind of sort of wants to commit to, for five years.  Because it’s a huge commitment, and it has to be a passion, not an assignment.  So, yeah.  Ultimately I hope to make more.  Like I said, I’m still here.  We finished the movie, I’m still coming in every day, and no one’s said stop.  So I think we probably will do some more.  Yeah.

Do you see Planes: Fire and Rescue as the new Smokey the Bear?

Photo credit:

Ferrell:  We say Scorchy is the new Smokey the Bear. [LAUGHTER] [OVERLAP]

Bobs:  We did work with the campaign with the park service.

Ferrell:  We did do some PSA’s with the park service about that.  I think for us it was mainly wanting to pay tribute to, you know, as we said, it’s the firefighters around the world.  We’re focusing on wildfire air attack, but it’s really about — for all firefighters, and all of the research you saw — I’m sure you saw Cal Fire, who we worked with.  I mean, it was really important for us, after we’d met them, you know, they became more than just consultants.  They really became our friend — I mean, I still stay in touch with Travis Alexander, who you probably saw in the pictures.  Big Travis.  Julie Hutchinson.  And we still [UNINTELLIGIBLE] each other and see how we’re doing.  I mean, they really became our friends.  And so it was important for us to do right by them, because of all that research, bringing that truth and accuracy to our filmmaking, so that all firefighters really are honored.  You know, that we did that.  I don’t know if they showed — if they  talked to you, about, you know, in the movie, we have the wall of fame.  You know, and a couple of the aircraft on there were actual Cal Fire airplanes that went down.  You know, and we — we put them with the numbers, and it’s the actual aircraft, and we put that in there.  And they were really taken aback, and, you know, it’s such an honor that we — you know, honored those — those brave men and woman that actually lost their lives, but that’s in the movie.  But, you know, the public’s not gonna know that, but they saw it, and it’s something that really —

Bobs:    Someone picked up on that.  This aircraft here is one that actually crashed in Cal Fire, and so, we don’t say that in the movie, but that’s the number of the plane that crashed, and someone picked up on it and wrote an article about it, as an honor to that firefighter.  And when we showed the movie to Cal Fire, they were just like, ” that’s a lovely thing to do.”  Uh.  You know.  And it’s just the tiny little details like, we worked with the forest service.  I mean, if you listen, the — the — the fire in the movie is caused by lightning.  Because I didn’t want it to be a whodunit situation where we’re trying to track down an arsonist and all of that kind of stuff.  So, and the majority of the fires are caused by lightning.  And we always talk about, like, there are over 50,000 wild fires a year in the US, it’s crazy, and these firefighters are out there, putting them out all of the time.  But some of them are caused by humans, and so — if you listen carefully, on the dialogue, on the very first, right before the — I believe it’s right before the thunderstruck sequence.  You hear that the caused by an unattended campfire.  And that’s something we put in for the forest service, because we wanted to — push their message a little bit.

Ferrell:  That’s part of their campaign, be careful, put your fire out.

Bobs:  So, yeah.  So it’s little things like that that we do, um, kind of because the — the people we work with, the park service, Cal Fire, they become our friends, and we want them to be — we want to do right by them.

How do you select the voice actors?  Do you have specific people you’re like, “Oh, this person would be perfect for this character,” or do you audition and decide that way?

Bobs:  We cast characters that we feel embody the spirit of the character.  And so we won’t say “oh, here’s an actor, and we want to work with them, let’s create a character for them.”  We don’t do that.  We’ve created the character, and then we go out and find an actor or actress who we feel like embodies the spirit of that character already.  There’s a couple of times when you do have someone in mind already, when maybe you sort of — you already know you have a character.


Harvey and Winnie, which are played by Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, you know they  are the perfect example, basically.  So, you have two Winnebagos who are on their 50th wedding anniversary, coming back to Piston Peak to celebrate that.  And you want to have instant chemistry between them, and then, from a filmmaking standpoint, it’s a plant, because they are gonna be used later.  And so from a casting standpoint, we got Stiller and Meara who are a comedy couple who’ve been married for 50 years, you know, and you didn’t have to do anything.  It had come preloaded with the chemistry that you’d want to create, so they already embodied the spirit of those characters, and so it was a natural for them to fit into it.

Dale Dye is a veteran, so he’s playing the major ex-military aircraft (Cabbie).  Wes Studi is obviously American Indian, and so he’s playing our, y’know, American Indian helicopter (Windlifter).  Like, we got Ed Harris as a tough guy (Blade Ranger).  So, it’s like Julie Bowen (Lil’ Dipper) we wanted to have Dusty’s biggest fan.  Someone who’s just on the verge of being a little crazy, hopeful is a better word, and so Julie was fantastic for that.  And, Curtis Armstrong (Maru), I’d worked with many times, and I know how great of an actor he is.  And I need somebody who could yell at you, but you don’t take them that seriously.  And so Curtis is sort of, you know, the more he shouts, the funnier he gets.  So you kind of go in and you figure, who already the spirit of the character?

Ferrell:  And you should know voiceover work is really hard work.  These actors, you know, they’re confined in a small isolation booth alone.  Because 98 percent of the time, they’re recording alone.  They don’t have another actor with them.  They’re just there with headsets out, separated out, having to stay on the mics, can’t have them doing a lot of movement.

Bobs:  Not in costume, obviously.  [LAUGHTER]

Ferrell:  Not in costume.  You know.  Exactly, yeah.  They come in and whatever  the voice director, which is always Bobs for us , he’s outside, with a sheet of glass between ’em, reading the lines with them, and that’s how they have to perform.  They have to be on cue.  And most of these are live action.  Ed Harris, he’s used to being in front of a camera with another actor, and like, working a scene, like in theatre, and having another great actor with him.  And that’s not the case in animation.  So for some of them, it was their first time to do animation, and it was a big adjustment for them, as an actor, to be on, and embody that character, and, you know bring that emotion just to the forefront every time, and they all did a great job.  And we always depend on having high caliber actors like Ed, like Julie, who we know are gonna bring more to the character than what the script may provide.  Like we always say, Bobs is really good about having the script being a starting pint, that dialogue.  Right?  Start there.  But, if you’re the character, like, if you feel like you’re gonna say something else, say what you feel like you’re gonna say.  And, most of the time, a lot of it went in the movie, stuff that they may have just ad-libbed.  And Bobs liked better.  And that’s what we keep, and we cut in, and it’s great.  But it’s a lot of hard work, that’s a big part of elevating the movie, too, is the actors you hire.  So it’s a long process.  Of figuring out who we think is right, because it’s also about the voice quality, and you want that to be right.

I remember seeing with Frozen, I saw Kristen and Idina, doing the voices when they were going back and forth, and you could see when you watched that scene, that the gestures that they were making were incorporated in the animation.  And I loved that.

Bobs:  Absolutely.

Ferrell:  I’m not familiar with that movie.  [LAUGHTER]

Bobs:  It’s too cold.

Ferrell:  It’s a cold movie. [LAUGHTER] We like fire.

I noticed the planes actually looked like Ed Harris as Blade.  If you look at him, he has that slight dimple that Ed Harris has.

Bobs:  Sure.  Yeah.  Yeah, we worked hard like with Wes Studi he has a kind of a down-turning smile.  So we’ll go in there, as best we can, and get the actors to inspire the designs of the characters whenever we can.

Makes you want to watch it again doesn’t it?  Well you can!  Get your Planes: Fire and Rescue DVD/Blu-ray on November 4th!


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*I was invited by Disney to a press junket to cover the release of Planes: Fire and Rescue.  All opinions are my own.  Interview has been edited to make it easier to read.
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