Zootopia - dinner table

Peter: The film is so clever. Like there, every little character detail, every like little thing in the background, a poster. So many references, but not like in your face. Like just kind of like what populates this world. Can you talk a little bit about some of the, some cool stuff that might be in the background that we might not notice until the 30th viewing or…?

Phil: I mean, again, that’s sort of a philosophical thing where you don’t wanna hammer ideas over an audience’s head. So whether it’s those little Easter eggs or the theme of the movie or whatever you want people to discover it. And there are innumerable little hidden gags here and there. Let’s see…

Jared: Yeah, well I think early on the tone of the movie lends itself to those type of things. And so everyone that touches the movie once that tone’s been established from story artists to animators to people doing the backgrounds, they know, oh, I’m allowed to do this? Everyone’s so excited to be able to do it. And they know any, basically any frame in this movie, you can pause it and find 10 jokes that were never written. Certainly not in any script. It’s just people so excited to actually add something to it.

Peter: Oh, so that’s more part of the collaboration.

Jared: Absolutely.

Phil: Oh for sure.

Clark: And that’s what one of the fun parts is as Jared and Phil are saying, letting them own a piece of it too. So when you look at all that signage that’s in the movie, that’s not these guys writing. It’s not the directors coming up with it. It is people come up with wouldn’t it be funny if we did this. And once the Preyda [PH] ad came in, once the Bearbury [PH] started to come in, people started to realize, oh, we can do that? And they kept having fun with that and we would send stuff to legal and make sure it was all cleared. And then it would just get all created. And then they’d have to go in and do the set placement where there’s a ton of people who are actually thinking about the set. How can I place this idea in here in a subtle way that you won’t see it the first time, so it’s not like hey, here’s a joke? It’s just sort of in the background if you’re looking at the film for the second or third or fourth time. And even to this day and we’ve seen the movie so many hundreds of times, they’ll be something where I’ll suddenly look to the left and realize, oh my God, they put that sign there. That’s so funny that that exists. Or this little piece of animation that’s happening over here, there’s a mouse in a scene in front of a mouse store when we’re watching these much taller characters. It’s all those pieces that they got to have fun as a team and add into it that wasn’t really story dictated. It’s more like we have this incredible world that’s always remember that it’s a character that we should be playing with.

Phil: And I guarantee you will find things that I haven’t seen still.

Jared: Yeah, absolutely.

Phil: Things that I have not caught and might not ever catch until they’re pointed out to me.


Peter: Being that clever, in working in the animation world, I assume that there’s probably tons of ideas that you guys came up with that for some reason or other doesn’t fit the story, doesn’t fit the world, didn’t get in it. What’s something that you’re kind of angry that you wish you could have got in there, but it just didn’t work?

[Jared and Clark look at Phil.]

Phil: What, my butt joke?

Jared: Yeah.

Phil: One butt joke. It was a wall and when she’s going through training camp, she was gonna fall down the wall. And then there was this hole of ice and there was a cop named Major Friedkin. And she was gonna fall and then made this Major Friedkin ice hole. And that’s it. We spent a good three hours talking about that.

[Peter laughs a little.]

Clark: See, it would have worked?

Phil: Yeah. Not even that good.

Jared: There were a lot of locations that we ultimately didn’t go to. Originally Nick had this really fun business called Wilde Times where animals could live out there animalistic nature. A predator for instance could chase another predator, but in a prey costume. So they could sort of live those things out. And there was a lot, there was like a really cheesy carnival sort of spectacle thing that he created. That was one of my favorite environments ever, but it ultimately when we made the shift to it being Hopps’ story, it didn’t make sense for him to have that anymore.

Clark: And I think one of the hardest things is all those locations are so much fun and we do get to go into Sahara Square and Tundra Town and Rainforest District and Downtown. Bunnyburrow and those places but you really could spend a whole movie in any one of those. So the hardest thing for everybody was trying to figure out how do we enjoy these locations, but remember we have to stay on story point. Because it would be very easy to say let’s just go spend five minutes exploring this one area. Which would be lovely, but not keeping us on story point. So I think everyone had to find that right balance of this incredible world that you really wanna spend time in but we do have a story that had to be told.


Peter: So is there like a notebook somewhere or a file like with all these ideas that like if there’s a sequel, we could explore this or this?

Clark: There’s a lot of stuff on a shelf. Pending should we ever be so lucky to go, we have definitely and there’s stuff that people will see in the Art of book. They’ll be scenes on the DVD ultimately when it comes out that’ll really showcase just how much more could have been. Again, as story starts to shift and move, you have to start losing ideas or focus. And so we couldn’t do —

Jared: I have a wall in my house that I just put all those on with little pushpins and how angry I am about each of those things not being there anymore. So I go there every night and stare at it for a couple hours.

Peter: Well, thank you guys very much.

Clark: Oh thank you.

Phil: Thank you.

Clark: Very nice to meet you.

Peter: It was very nice to meet you guys.

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