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Planes: Fire & Rescue

TFK talks to the director of the fiery sequel to Disney’s Planes

July 18, 2014
DISNEY ENTERPRISES

Racing champion Dusty Crophopper returns to the sky for firefighting action in Planes: Fire & Rescue

On July 18, Dusty Crophopper is flying back to the silver screen in Planes: Fire & Rescue. The animated film continues the story of Planes, in which the small-town crop duster became a worldwide racing champion. Now, Dusty is back home on the farm, enjoying his new celebrity status and gearing up for the next competition.

Dusty is feeling on top of the world until something goes wrong during a practice flight. Right when he reaches racing speed, his engine fails. He goes to visit Dottie the mechanic, his best buddy, but she tells him there is nothing she can do to help. Dusty must retire from racing.

After a fire breaks out on the farm, Dusty is inspired to switch gears and become a firefighting plane. He leaves home and joins a crew of rescue aircrafts, where he learns that bravery and courage are more important than speed. TFK spoke with the film’s director, Bobs Gannaway, about how he created the world of Fire & Rescue, the movie’s new cast of characters, and Dusty’s journey from champion to hero.

TFK:

How does Dusty’s character evolve from the first Planes film to Planes: Fire & Rescue?

BOBS GANNAWAY:

In the first film, Dusty was a small town crop duster who dreamed of bigger things and overcame impossible odds. It was a good sort of underdog story.  It was also about him doing something for himself. He was pushing himself to do something more than he was built to do.  In the second film, the story becomes more about selflessness. Dusty has to go out and embrace the world of firefighting, which is when you put your life on the line for others. It’s a very selfless world.  We take [the story] from Dusty being on top of the world [as a racing champion] and ground him in the world of fire and rescue.

TFK:

Dusty’s main challenge in Planes was to conquer his fear of height. What would you say is his biggest challenge in Fire and Rescue?

GANNAWAY:

Because he pushed himself so hard in the first film, he customized his engine to the point where he was pushing his engine to do things that it was not designed to do.  As a result, his engine has been damaged, specifically his gearbox.  He’s put too much stress on it.  So in our film, it becomes a movie about second chances.  Early in the story, he discovers that his engine is damaged and that he may never race again.  So, during the story, he has to come to terms with the idea that he might have embrace something new with the same kind of passion he embraced racing.

TFK:

Did you model the story’s setting, Piston Peak, off a specific national park?

GANNAWAY:

Piston Peak is modeled off of Yellowstone and Yosemite.  We needed a little bit of both. For example, we wanted to have granite arches in the film, and those don’t exist at Yellowstone.  But Yellowstone has such fantastic geysers and the geothermal elements, and has the Old Faithful Inn.  The Old Faithful Inn really informed the look of the movie’s Grand Faithful Lodge.

TFK:

In Planes there was a really amazing range in diversity because the story was set at an international race.  How did you create that same diversity of characters in this movie’s singular setting? 

GANNAWAY:

This story takes place at Piston Peak, a fictional national park. This is a very Americana location. However, we populated it with a variety of new characters, specifically this Piston Peak air attack team. First, we have Blade Ranger, who is the chief. He’s kind of the no-nonsense character. Then we have Dipper, who is the air tanker and Dusty’s biggest fan, we come to find out.  And I’m really excited that we have the character Windlifter, who is our heavy lift helicopter and is an American Indian. I wanted to have a character who was connected to nature, and represents the history of American Indians’ involvement in firefighting and smoke jumping.

TFK:

Who would you say is the story’s villain, and how does he interact with Dusty?

GANNAWAY:

We’d like to say that we don’t have any villains; we just have people with “misguided good intentions.”  We like all of our characters to be appealing, and we describe our “villain” as a good bad guy who has a very strong reason for why he’s doing what he’s doing. So in our case, Cad Spinner, who is the park superintendent, is that good bad guy.  He’s more interested in impressing his superiors than many he is with being concerned about the safety and wellbeing of the park.  He will do almost anything to protect the restored Old Faithful Inn. However, he does it to the expense of the safety of others and that’s his mistake.

TFK:

The Planes franchise is set in the same world as Cars. How do you create this environment?

GANNAWAY:

It’s very important that we create a believable world to place our appealing characters in.  In order to create this world, we must do our research.  There are a lot of details in this film that people wouldn’t necessarily notice, but their foundation is in research.  This allows us to create a history. For example, in this movie we have the camper couple Winnie and Harvey, who are coming back to Piston Peak for their 50th wedding anniversary, where they had their honeymoon. That small detail implies that the park has been around a long time, and that there’s people who come to it

TFK:

Is there a particular moment or scene in the movie that you’re really attached to or is your favorite?

GANNAWAY:

One of them would be the action sequence when Blade and Dusty are caught in a wildfire that is burning out of control. Blade takes Dusty into the safety of a mine to allow the fire to burn over them. This is the heart of the film, where Blade gives Dusty the wisdom he needs to be able to move on. This moment is is based on a real famous event in wild firefighting about a rescuer who saved a group of men by taking them into a mine, in the 1930s.

TFK: 

If Dusty were to go on a third adventure, where would it be? 

GANNAWAY:

I have no idea.  We are always working on ideas for new stories in [this world of living vehicles]. And, if we find the right stories, we pursue.

and love it.  We also made sure each detail in the movie was true to the environment.  When we showed birds, we made sure they were a species indigenous to the national parks off which we based Piston Peak.


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