10 Things You Might Not Know About UP - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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10 Things You Might Not Know About UP

Geek Dave plays "See Who Can Be Quiet the Longest".
1. The initial concept of what was to become Up varied greatly from the film that arrived in cinemas back in 2009. Director Pete Docter explained that back in 2004 when he began working on the film it was set on a floating city on an alien planet populated with muppet-like creatures, with two brothers vying to inherit their father's kingdom. When the brothers fell to Earth, they encountered a tall bird who helped them understand each other. But the story just didn't seem to work properly, and Docter and co-screenwriter Bob Peterson realised that the most intriguing element was the isolation of the floating city. Yet the people living there would consist of a whole community, and were therefore not really isolated. So the whole city was stripped down to a single flying house with just a single occupant, where balloons replaced the magic which kept the floating city up.
2. At this point, Up was going under the working-title of Heliums. Docter developed the fantasy of the flying house, expanding on the idea and making it one of escaping from life when everything becomes too irritating. Docter explained this stemmed from his difficulty with social situations growing up.

During this stage of development, Docter revealed that the biggest single influence on the film was The Station Agent, a 2003 comedy-drama written and directed by Tom McCarthy, and starring a pre-Game of Thrones Peter Dinklage as a man who just wants to get away from it all and seeks solitude in an abandoned train station.

3. Docter, Peterson and Tom McCarthy worked on the story concept for several months, not making any further character progress, until one day Docter drew a grumpy old man holding a bunch of balloons with smiling faces on. The dichotomy of the two amused the trio; the contrast between the elderly grumpy man and the happy balloons clicked and it was decided to make the protagonist and elderly character because the writers felt their experiences and the way they affect their view of the world was a rich source of humour, and the younger audience would be able to relate to them like they would a grandparent.
4. The cold-opener of Up was indeed cold. A heartbreaking montage of a life of love and loss. The movie itself originally reflected that heartbreak much deeper as once they had created the character of Carl and his wife Ellie, Docter revealed the first story outline saw Carl...
"just want[ing] to join his wife up in the sky. It was almost a kind of strange suicide mission or something. And obviously that's [a problem]. Once he gets airborne, then what? So we had to have some goal for him to achieve that he had not yet gotten."
The writers then decided to have Carl and Wilderness Explorer Russell land the house on a Soviet-era spy airship camouflaged as a giant cloud, rather than on a tepui as would later be the case. This concept was rewritten due to its similarity to another idea Pixar was developing which never came to fruition.
5. Many of the other elements and characters that would be present in Up came together quite quickly from here on out, including Dug the talking dog and having Carl and Russell go to South America. The location was chosen due to both Docter's love of tropical locations, but also in wanting a location Carl could be stuck with a kid due to the inability to leave him with an authority such as a police officer or social worker.

With a final story locked in-place, some ideas were trimmed before being animated. Among them was to be a sub-plot about a magic fountain-of-youth, but this was no water fountain, rather they were fountain-of-youth eggs laid by the bird. This was written in to explain the age discrepancy between the character Charles F. Muntz, who was Carl's hero as a child and was still very much alive and kicking and looking about the same age as old man Carl when the pair finally met. Docter decided that this subplot was too distracting, and people would forgive the age inconsistency. Hand wave, nothing to see here.
6. When it came to voice Dug the talking dog, writer Bob Peterson stepped-up to the mic. He also provided the voice of Alpha too. Not to be left out, Pete Docter leant his voice to both Kevin, the "Beast of Paradise Falls", and Campmaster Strauch, Russell's scout leader seen at the end of the film.

Talking of Russell, the character's design was based on Pixar animator Peter Sohn. This came about after a meeting where the Pixar employees sketched each other, and a drawing of Sohn came Docter's way. Finding a voice for Russell wasn't so easy though, as Docter auditioned 400 boys in a nationwide casting call for the part. Jordan Nagai, who is Japanese American, showed up to an audition with his brother, who was actually the one auditioning for the role, but Docter realised Nagai behaved and spoke non-stop like Russell and chose him instead.

At least Pete Docter didn't have to look too far for his Ellie as his daughter, Elizabeth Docter, provided the voice for the character.

7. Howard Hughes and real-life adventurers Charles Lindbergh and Percy Fawcett were inspirations for the character of Charles Muntz, as voiced in Up by Christopher Plummer, but his name bears a strinking resemblance to the man who once employed Walt Disney...
Whilst working for Universal Pictures, Charles Mintz had ordered Walt Disney Studios to develop a new character. The result was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, created by Walt himself along with his employee Ub Iwerks. In February 1928 when Oswald the Lucky Rabbit proved a success for Universal Pictures, Mintz set about hiring away all of Disney's animators except Iwerks (who refused to leave Disney), and moved the production of the Oswald cartoons to his own Winkler Studio. Disney would not control the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit until 2006, long after Walt's death, but every cloud and all that - the loss of Oswald inspired Walt to come up with a new character. You may have heard of him - Mickey Mouse.

So, is Up's villain Charles Muntz a nod to Charles Mintz, the man who "stole" Disney's first creation? No one's confirming the answer to that question.

8. And then there was Carl Fredricksen...
While Pixar usually designs their characters to be caricatured, Carl was even more so, being only at least three heads high. Ed Asner was approached to voice the retired salesman and widower who flies his house to Paradise Falls to fulfill a childhood dream he shared with his late wife Ellie because Asner's television alter ego, Lou Grant, had been helpful in writing for Carl because it guided them in balancing likable and unlikable aspects of the curmudgeonly character.

To animate old people, Pixar animators would study their own parents or grandparents and also watched footage of the Senior Olympics. The animators had various rules for Carl's movements: he could not turn his head more than 15–20 degrees without turning his torso as well, nor could he raise his arms high. However, they also wanted him to grow more flexible near the end of the film, transforming into an "action hero".

When Asner saw a composite model of his character he he stated, "I don't look anything like that." Which was because, although Asner had informed the character's personality, the appearance of Carl is meant to resemble Spencer Tracy as he appeared in his final film, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.
9. Concentrate. Here's the science part.

Ever wondered just how many helium balloons it would take to lift the Fredricksen's house? Well, a technical director calculated that to make Carl's house fly he would require 23 million standard size party balloons!

Were there 23 million balloons attached to the Fredricksen's house? There was not!

Although that's not to say Pixar didn't attempt that number, but director Pete Docter realised that such a high number made the balloons look like nothing but small dots, destroying the effect. Bigger balloons were created instead, each one twice Carl's size, meaning fewer could be used. Although technically still not enough to lift the house, 10,297 of these larger balloons are animated for shots of the house just flying, with 20,622 balloons for the lift-off sequence, and a varying number in other scenes throughout.
10. Although it was certainly an impressive idea, the concept of floating away via helium balloon wasn't unique to Up.

A pastime known as "cluster ballooning" sees a harnessed 'balloonist' attached to a cluster of helium-inflated rubber balloons. One of the first notable flights' came in July 1937 when the French adventurer Auguste Piccard experimented with cluster ballooning in Rochester, Minnesota. Inspired by Piccard, an American photographer for Paramount News used 32 weather balloons for a feature photography assignment near Old Orchard Beach in Maine. Suspended from the balloons by a parachute harness in order to take aerial film footage, his mooring rope broke and he was lifted approximately 700 feet (210 m) into the air. A clergyman spotted the incident, and after a chase of some 13 miles used a 22-caliber rifle to shoot out two of the balloons, thus allowing the photographer to return safely to the ground.

And then there was the famous Lawnchair Larry flight. In 1982, Larry Walters, without any prior ballooning experience, attached 42 helium-filled weather balloons to a lawn chair and lifted off. He took his pellet gun, a CB radio, sandwiches, beer, and a camera.
In defending against charges later filed against him by the FAA, he stated that he intended to rise just a few hundred feet (about 100 metres), but underestimated helium's lifting power, causing his tethering strap to break prematurely. Walters quickly rose to nearly 3 miles (5 km), over 50 times his intended maximum altitude. He was spotted from two commercial airliners and slowly drifted over Long Beach crossing the primary approach corridor of Long Beach Airport. Using his CB radio he contacted REACT; a citizens band radio monitoring organization, who recorded their conversation:
REACT: What information do you wish me to tell [the airport] at this time as to your location and your difficulty?
Larry: Ah, the difficulty is, ah, this was an unauthorized balloon launch, and, uh, I know I'm in a federal airspace, and, uh, I'm sure my ground crew has alerted the proper authority. But, uh, just call them and tell them I'm okay.
Walters reportedly had planned to control his altitude by using a pellet gun to selectively pop some of the balloons. However, he was initially hesitant to shoot any balloons, as he was concerned about falling out due to a loss of stability. After 45 minutes in the sky, reaching a high altitude and seeing no other way of getting down, he eventually shot several of the balloons but then accidentally dropped his pellet gun overboard. Fortunately enough were deflated and Walters descended slowly, until the balloons' dangling cables got caught in a power line, causing a 20-minute electricity blackout. He landed unharmed on the ground.

Although it didn't involve cluster ballooning or actually lifting a house, or anywhere near the necessary number of balloons to do so, possibly the nicest promotional stunt for any movie came in May 2009 when Up's Disney publicist's attached balloons to the roof of Edith Macefield's house. Macefield was a real estate holdout who received worldwide attention in 2006 when she turned down an offer of $1 million to sell her house to make way for a commercial development in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, Washington. Like Carl Fredricksen, Macefield had lived her life in her 108-year old farmhouse and was staying put. So, the five-story project was built surrounding her little family home, where she died at age 86 in 2008. She was buried in Evergreen Washelli Cemetery, Seattle, beside her mother, who had died in 1976 on the same couch as she did.

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