The hyperlocal media was on hand for Pixar’s 14th “Motorama” event last Friday. The event is held every other year, and gives Pixar employees an opportunity to show off their own special vehicles and share their love of cars with their work colleagues, friends and families. This event was coordinated with the highly anticipated release of Cars 3.
Disney/Pixar Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter is a huge car enthusiast and of course wrote and directed the original Cars movie in 2006. “It started when I first started research for the movie ‘Cars,’” he noted in a press release, “I wanted to look at every aspect of the automotive world. I realized that people here at Pixar own some pretty cool cars so I thought, ‘Hey, let’s do a car show for Pixar employees.’”
The Pixar campus was filled with vintage, custom and of course race cars. The show featured a mix of employee and celebrity provided cars (including Jay Leno and A’s great Reggie Jackson) and loaners from nearby Fantasy Junction. Some of the cars on hand have even served as inspiration for the car characters in the film.
Photos: Rob Arias and Mauvis Ledford
The Emeryville campus is of course highly guarded and the opportunity to tour their campus is a rare opportunity. The Campus is chock full of employee amenities that make employment highly coveted including an Olympic sized swimming pool, outdoor amphitheater, amazing art and secret bars. There’s hope they’ll bring back the EUSD fundraiser screenings and tours they once held.
One of the greatest thrills for me personally was visiting the legendary Brooklyn Hearth Lounge (we were not allowed to photograph this but there are some photos online). The Lounge is filled with Oaks memorabilia and dedicated to Jimmy Claxton. Claxton played for the Oakland Oaks and was the first black player to play organized white baseball in the twentieth century. Oaks Park of course once existed to the east end of the Pixar campus where their parking lot currently is.
Cars 3 Producer Andrea Warren talks local resources including Fantasy Junction
Car 3 was co-produced by Alameda resident and Pixar vet Andrea Warren. Warren, a South Dakota native, didn’t necessarily aspire to work in the film industry growing up. After getting a degree at USC, She took an internship on her first movie, the 1996 animated classic James and the Giant Peach. James and the Giant Peach was filmed in a warehouse in SF’s SOMA neighborhood.
Warren furthered her skills in Tech in Silicon Valley prior to joining Pixar in 1998. Since then, she’s filled her resume with Pixar classics like Monsters Inc, WALL-E and Brave among many others.
Warren noted a fondness for Emeryville’s resources and love of nearby Rudy’s Can’t Fail and its late hours during production deadlines (and even occasionally on weekends with her family she admits). “I’ve been at Pixar for 19 years so I’ve witnessed Emeryville change a lot over the years. I’m a mom, I have to fit these little errands in when I can. I go to Home Depot and Pottery and Beyond way too much.” She even mentioned the occasional trip across tho Emeryville’s Wednesday’s Off the Grid for a bite.
Warren also noted the local convenience of having Fantasy Junction directly across the street for the creative team. “It’s so cool! I’ve walked over there before and they have this amazing collection.”
Fantasy Junction is an automotive broker located in a fairly unassuming building on the corner of Park Avenue and Emery St. They house an impressive collection of rare and vintage vehicles.
Fantasy Junction owner Bruce Trenery wasn’t aware of any easter eggs specific to his business, but did spot some rare automobiles in The Incredibles that he suspects were inspired by his business (A 208S Siata and a Lancia B24 Aurelia). “The attention to detail at Pixar is just incredible” he acknowledged. Fantasy Junction has been in Emeryville since 1989.
“Jay Ward, who is our ‘Cars franchise guardian’ has a close relationship with them,” added Warren. “If there’s a car that has a distinct engine sound, we’re able to track down that car and mimic the actual sound of that car through our sound engineers at Skywalker Sound. We want Cars to be authentic for the NASCAR enthusiasts and accessible for those that aren’t as knowledgable about cars.”
Warren believes it’s this level of research that gives Pixar’s films authenticity. “We believe in basing our films in research and reality. We took a trip to Sonoma Raceway for inspiration, even a trip to the south to interact with their fans. ”
Warren was unaware of any Emeryville specific East Eggs in this Cars film. The original Cars has several including a Rust-eze commercial with a clunker sporting the vanity plate “EVILLE” (my personal favorite), and of course a fictitious City of Emeryville welcome marquee (both images: BCDB.com)
Warren notes that she’s not necessarily a gearhead herself and joked about submitting her Corolla for entry into previous Motoramas. Warren considers the Cars franchise one that works for kids, enthusiasts and “soccer moms” alike. “It has tons of heart in it and there’s some really tender moments”.
Warren notes she’ll be heading to Japan next week to help promote Cars 3 for the Asian market.
Cars 3 debuts #1 at Box Office
The Cars 3 storyline involves the comeback of an aging Lightning McQueen, voiced by Owen Wilson, who must overcome a new generation of racers to prove he can still compete. Car 3 opened at #1 in the box office at $53.5 million continuing a longstanding Pixar tradition.
Cars 3 is the directorial debut of Brian Fee, who is probably best known thus far for his creative work on WALL-E. Pixar’s next feature film will be titled “Coco” and anticipated to be released in November of this year.
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