Remember the Adorable Short Film Before BIG HERO 6?
You Won’t Believe How the Story’s Idea and Plot Originated!
By Ben Kayser and Rachal Marquez
If you saw BIG HERO 6 in theaters recently, you’ll remember the adorable short film about a dog, Winston, and his relationship to his master through the meals they share. In an interview with the producer of FEAST, Kristina Reed shared with MOVIEGUIDE® the fascinating back-story how the idea and plot for the story originated and some of the moving themes that make it so lovable.
“It came from an idea that Patrick Osborne [The Director] had been pursuing in his life prior to there being a call for shorts,” Reed began.
“He’s one of those guys that is constantly tinkering away at something in his own life, experimenting, playing, and he had been using that ‘one second a day’ app on his iPhone, and taking a second a day of footage of every dinner. If you watch the film, it’s literally just plate after plate after plate, changing every second of something different each night. After a year of doing that, he sat down and watched the little film he had. Three hundred sixty-five seconds yields about six minutes of film, and he realized that he could see what had gone on in his life, personally, in the meals, and that you can tell a story just by looking at food. He started to think, ‘Is it possible to tell a story that a broader audience could follow along with just through food?’ He came to the conclusion that that’s actually kind of tricky when you don’t know more.
“So he was thinking, ‘What character could I showcase the food through?’ The interesting thing about dogs is that they’re very much animals that live by patterns. They’re used to getting fed at the same time, they’re used to getting walked at the same time. They know exactly what’s going to happen every part of the day, and when something changes, they’re very aware that something’s happened. So Patrick came up with the idea of ‘Well, let me tell the story through a dog and his food.’
“We needed a dog who was little, because we wanted to show the dog getting promoted. He [Winston] starts off eating outside, eating food that he’s found, and then he gets adopted and he eats off the floor. Then he gets promoted to the couch, and then he gets promoted to eating off the table, and then the girlfriend arrives, and he’s demoted again. You need to sort of see that to come along with the story, but that’s the genesis. The food came first, which I think is interesting, because I think everyone assumes that you start off with the cute dog, and you go, ‘What story can I tell with a cute dog?’ But actually it’s the food that came first.”
“It took us a long time to figure out the end shot, at the kid’s party. People have asked us, ‘Why don’t you end it where the dog opens his mouth for the meatball?’ But, I think as an audience you want to know that this wasn’t just a special, once in a lifetime thing. This family has entered a new phase, there are kids, and kids are messy, and food falls everywhere, and this dog now is going to be in paradise. You just want to know that he was willing to give it up, and he still gets it. That’s so cool.
“The one moment that Winston [the dog] becomes human is that pivotal moment in the film where he looks at his owner for the first time, and you as the audience get to see the man’s face. Up until then, the camera’s been locked off, and food has been at the center of every shot, because that’s the center of Winston’s world. Suddenly, he looks up, and he sees his owner and his owner’s emotion for the first time in years, and he makes a decision to sacrifice what he loves to give his owner what would make him happy, and we unlock the camera, food leaves the center of the frame. In fact, when Winston’s running through the restaurant, food is trying to get back and be the center of the frame, [but] Winston is dodging it, which I am just so in awe of Patrick [Osborne, director] for thematically planning that and thinking about that and carrying it through. So that’s a moment where you could argue Winston becomes human, but to me it’s the moment that’s second-most satisfying in the film, where you sacrifice yourself for someone you love.
“Of course, the most satisfying moment is the baby with the meatball, when you realize your sacrifice was absolutely worth it.”