Highlands & Islands

Andrews and Sarafian on Disney-Pixar's Brave

Image caption The exploits of the film's lead character Merida surprised some audiences, producer Katherine Sarafian said

Ahead of the release of Disney-Pixar's Brave on DVD, the director and producer of the animated film set in ancient Scotland about Merida, a flame-haired princess, reflect on life since the movie hit cinemas this summer.

Director Mark Andrews admits to feeling a little frustrated since the release of Brave. His colleagues have stopped asking him questions about one of his favourite subjects: Scotland.

Andrews was Disney-Pixar's go-to man for all things Scottish, during the making of the film.

Of Brave's US team of writers and animators, he had the most knowledge of Scotland's landscape, history and legends.

His ancestors on his mother's side of the family came from Torridon, an area of towering mountains and dark sea lochs in Wester Ross. Since boyhood he's been interested in Scotland's long ago past, and in 1998 he and his wife spent their honeymoon in the Highlands.

The film-maker revelled in the research trips he and other members of Brave's creative team made to Scotland, and he would turn up for meetings in the US wearing a kilt.

Image caption Mark Andrews would turn up for creative team meetings in a kilt

Later, he helped to promote the film at events in Edinburgh and Inverness.

Andrews said: "I have learned all these new things about Scotland, but no-one is asking me questions any more.

"It's a bummer I can't share that knowledge."

Andrews talks fondly of the Five Sisters, a range of peaks in Kintail, the landscape of Highland Perthshire and also what he calls the "rainbow bridge", the arching road crossing to the Isle of Skye.

But his main fascination with Scotland lies in its misty past.

"I love the folklore and Celtic mythology of Scotland and also the time in history when the Romans were invading and building walls," he said.

"On our research trips to Scotland we took a ferry from Ullapool to the Western Isles and we could imagine how the landscape had changed little since the time of the Vikings."

Andrews will return to Scotland next spring when he will teach storytelling through animation at Glasgow School of Art for two weeks.

He said: "My wife and our kids had a blast when they came with me to Edinburgh. I am really looking forward to taking them to Loch Lomond and running around Stirling."

Spoiler alert

For producer Katherine Sarafian there have been feelings of great satisfaction, and also surprise, since the release of Brave.

She said: "There have been wonderful responses to the film and I was very happy people embraced Merida."

Image caption Katherine Sarafian was producer on Dinsey-Pixar's Brave

But - spoiler alert - Sarafian was taken aback by other feedback to the movie's lead female character.

The producer said: "I was surprised by how many people asked why she didn't run off with her prince charming in the end.

"I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised as it has been the model we have been used for so long. There is nothing wrong with that and they are wonderful Disney films."

Other Disney stories of princesses had set up this expectation of Merida - Snow White is found by her Prince Charming, Aurora rescued by Prince Philip, Tiana falls for the frog Naveen and Rapunzel sacrifices her magical hair for Eugene.

Sarafian said: "That people were surprised Merida did not find her prince charming shows Pixar did its job shaking things up a bit and telling something new."

She added: "But Brave is still a love story. It's about a girl falling in love with her family, and it's about a mother-daughter relationship."

Image caption Andrews hopes Disney expanding George Lucas' Star Wars universe points a way ahead for his work in the future

When the dust settles on Brave, the thoughts and attention of Andrews and Sarafian will turn fully to new projects.

Sarafian said lessons learned from overcoming technological challenges in bringing Scotland to life in an animated film would help to guide the making of future Disney-Pixar features.

For Andrews, he hopes some of his future work might lie in a galaxy far, far away, following Disney's acquisition of George Lucas'.

A fan of the films since he was a boy, Andrews has written for the Star Wars: Clone Wars animated TV series, with one his stories helping its makers win an Emmy in 2004.

Andrews said: "George created this incredible universe and the way has been opened to continue telling Star Wars stories, and exploring some of the many other characters.

"Hopefully, I might be able to be part of that."

Brave will be released on DVD on 26 November.

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