TURBO captured my dreaming heart this past weekend, but after seeing the movie, I did have a few questions. Why is it set in Van Nuys, my neighbor in the valley? Why snails? And seriously, how do you think of a high velocity tale like this?
Luckily, I had the exclusive chance to speak with DreamWorks Animation’s Turbo writer/director David Soren last week and get a few of these questions answered. I’ll admit, I’m not great with names or career history, so I did a little reading homework about David and his big film about a tiny mollusk.
David Soren has worked for DreamWorks Animation since graduating from Sheridan College in Canada. He was a story artist on The Road to El Dorado, Chicken Run, and Shrek. Almost 10 years ago, David submitted his blossoming idea for Turbo in a pitchfest at DreamWorks Animation, where it won and here we are today with a new classic underdog story.
The session was such a wonderful, unique opportunity and a few of my favorite questions and answers dealt with the location of the movie, the attention to diversity, and David’s pride in his family.
Question: I was very exited to see that the characters in the film were multicultural and ethnically diverse. Was this something that you considered as you created them? And do you think it makes audiences be able to relate to them more?
David Soren: It was absolutely something that I was striving for when I was writing it and we were casting it and even designing the characters. I think it’s a rarity in animated movies, especially among human characters, to have diversity. And obviously we have a very diverse cast all around. It’s just something I’ve always kind of admired in the world around me. I come from Toronto, which is a big melting pot, and then moved to LA about 16 years ago. And the story is set in LA and I wanted it to reflect the people in the city that I live in.
Living in the San Fernando Valley, and seeing as the snails in his yard were also hence, in the valley, David felt it didn’t seem like it was all that necessary to venture much further with the story.
“There’s such an iconic look to the San Fernando Valley, and there’s really a great history of racing movies and car culture here. So it seemed like the perfect location to set a racing movie and also an underdog story, since the Valley is sort of never quite considered the most desirable location to live. But, for many people who live here, it is in fact the day-to-day place where we do spend our time. And it’s often not represented in movies, certainly never in an animated movie.”
David does admit, in retrospect, that he probably should have “picked Hawaii or somewhere where I could have gotten some better fields trips out of it”. Haha – I agree!
When my turn came around, I was relieved to be able to touch on a topic that hadn’t been discussed yet.
Question: You said your son was an inspiration and kind of gave you the fresh eyes for the film. Has he seen it yet? And what does he think about it?
David responded that his son had seen it along with his 3 year old daughter. He admitted that his children usually get “a little squirmy” once the popcorn runs out and he was worried because the popcorn was finished before the movie even started.
“But they didn’t budge. They were riveted by the movie the entire time, which was really exciting to see, because I don’t think they’re really old enough to understand that it’s Daddy’s movie and behave themselves because of that. They’re really excited. My son is so excited he could probably pitch the movie better than I can at this point.”
It’s obvious that TURBO is an film filled with the heart and soul of a passionate filmmaker. David told us in the interview that he always knew he wanted to be involved with animation and made Sheridan College near his home town of Toronto a goal early in life. I have to say he has done great work.