Disney/PIXAR’s Brave Director Mark Andrews Visits Salt Lake City, UT

Disney/Pixar’s newest release Brave took seven years to complete. The initial story idea and direction came from Director Brenda Chapman. As the movie ran into difficulties, a new director was brought on. Mark Andrews had worked as consultant on the film already and took the wheel to complete the film 18 months after getting the job.

I had the opportunity to see the movie at the Utah premiere and was astounded. Brave touched me in a way that few movies have in recent years. So when offered the chance to be part of a round-table interview with the director, I took it. Of course, I couldn’t decide if I was more excited or scared! What would happen if I went in and started gushing like a teenage fan? Turns out, I did manage to keep some semblance of decorum!

Q: Most Pixar movies have been set in unique worlds. How did stepping into a movie closer to the Disney princess model affect your mentality?

Mark Andrews: The choice for Merida to be a princess was to up the stakes but the story contains none of the typical Disney elements, such as a Prince Charming, love, or Happily Ever After. I wanted to focus on who this human being is, who this character is. She is brave but can she apologize. She’s on the cusp of adulthood, like Wendy in Peter Pan who learned that she had already become an adult. Merida does not know she is an adult. Part of learning that she in an adult is becoming self-aware that part of who she was came from her mother.

Pixar never focused on this being their first “girl” movie. Every movie Pixar does is a first. The focus was always on who is this human being, not who is this girl. Human are not conventional. Society has conventions. The dark ages had restrictions as society that the modern world does not but mankind does not change.

Q: Scottish people protective of their heritage; how have people of Scottish descent reacted to this film and was this a concern?

Mark Andrews: None of the movie was done to appease the Scots. The team explored Scotland to get a feel, an understanding, to “get it.” The people would look grumpy but once you talked to them you discovered they were friendly and outgoing, it was the weather that made them grumpy. Parts of the movie were inspired by the stories we heard, various folk lore. Everything in Scotland has a story. The people of the British Isles are natural story tellers.

Q: Did any particular folklore inspire the story?

Mark Andrews: No. But elements of Scottish folklore shaped the story. Scottish tales are full of tales of human to animal transformations, of witches, of the moral to be careful what you wish for. It’s all linked to the land. You can feel the enchantment in the land when you are there. The Rings of Stones evoke awe, standing in them, you can’t help but feel it.

Q: Tell us about the wonderful songs in the film.

Mark Andrews: The score is linked to emotion. Key songs were written to mirror Merida’s progress of development. Music and singing is part of the Scottish culture, everyone sings.

Q: Did you have any concerns that children would have a difficult time understanding the Scottish accent used throughout the movie?

Mark Andrews: No, the message can be read from the action and behaviors of the characters even if the words are unfamiliar or unclear. Sometimes the brogue would be too much and would need to be toned down. Otherwise, we tried to keep the feel of the Scots.

My final thoughts:

Throughout the interview, Mark Andrews spoke with an animated passion that demonstrated his love Scotland, its people, and its culture. It’s a passion that clearly comes through in the movie itself. If you have not yet had a chance to see Brave, I urge you to go.

Brave is now in theatres everywhere. “Like” Brave on Facebook.

*Many thanks to Love Communications for arranging a round table interview with Brave director Mark Andrews. No compensation was received for this post. All thoughts and opinions expressed are entirely my own.*

Guest Post: Sara Drake has dual Master’s degrees in History and Mental Health Counseling. She has an avid love of books and movies.