Earlier this week Hypable went to Pixar Animation Studios to screen the studio’s first television special Toy Story of TERROR!. We also spoke to the story’s director and producer.
Despite working with familiar characters, for Pixar the show was a very different piece of work than they’re used to creating. Producer Galyn Susman and director Angus MacLane spoke with Hypable about what made this different from the other projects they made, and how they ended up with the final version. This interview includes small spoilers.
When we sat down with Susman and MacLane, the first question on our minds was “How scary did they want to make it?” It turns out that in the first pitch, the team actually made the short too scary!
“When we first brought it to John [Lasseter], he said it was too scary.” Maclane explains. “But we’re glad it was that,” Susman added, “and that he didn’t say ‘it isn’t scary enough.’ Better to end up with something that’s too scary, because it’s easier to take away from something than have to figure out what to add.” The team didn’t give us details, but we would’ve loved to find out what they’ve taken away from the short that made Lasseter think it was too much.
Toy Story of TERROR! includes only a handful of characters from the movie series, but there’s a good reason why. Not only is it easier for the animators to animate a scene with less characters, story wise it just makes sense. MacLane states that while Bonnie is going on a trip, there are only so many toys she can fit inside her “TARDIS of a suitcase.” Hamm, for instance, would’ve made the space in that bag a little more uncomfortable. “Who takes their piggy bank traveling?” Susman added, bringing up a valid point.
Woody, Buzz and Jesse are, for all intents and purposes,the main characters of the Toy Story franchise, as reiterated by MacLane several times in our conversation. “So we knew from the beginning this short had to include them,” he explains. The rest, to us, just make sense. You have Rex – the scaredy cat, Mr. Pricklepants – he adds the dramatic flair and narration, and Trixy who is a fun outgoing character that gets into a bit of trouble herself. There’s also Mr. Potato Head, who is the stubborn character that refuses to listen to reason and gets everyone in trouble.
Creating this television feature was also very different from the way they’ve created the previous Toy Story movies. For example, Susman and MacLane were given specific and strict instructions to make it twenty-one minutes and thirty seconds long, with specific times for commercial breaks. “With feature films, you don’t have to worry about cutting too much for time as much as you do for a television short.” There are a couple of things that they wanted to include in Toy Story of TERROR! that unfortunately didn’t make the cut.
Toy Story of TERROR! has a few cliffhangers interspersed between commercial breaks, and despite being new to creating television shorts, we think Susman and MacLane did a fantastic job. “You have to give people a reason to come back after the commercial, so they don’t go running off,” Susman stated. And believe us when we say that Toy Story of TERROR! definitely keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time.
Now, the major question: What about the easter eggs? You’ll be glad to know that despite being only 22 minutes long, there are plenty of treasures in this animated short. Maclane was kind enough to tell us where a few of them are.
The Pizza Planet truck, for example, is in the motel owner’s calendar of “Iguanas of the Month” beside his computer. In the graveyard scene at the very beginning of the short, all the tombstones belong to dead Pixar characters. Creepy! And of course as is tradition, there is artwork above the motel beds that hint to Pixar’s next film, The Good Dinosaur. There are several other easter eggs hidden in Toy Story of TERROR!, so be sure to keep an eye out when it airs!
Toy Story of TERROR! will premiere on October 16 at 8:00PM EST/PST on ABC. Be sure to check out our spoiler free review, right here.