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Up – Scenes That Left A Mark (pt II)

  • February 5, 2019
  • Shane Hurlbut, ASC
Up – Scenes That Left A Mark (pt II)

Scenes That Left A Mark – Part 2 – Dylan Leong

As the second part of this series, I asked my senior video editor at HV, Dylan Leong, to talk about a movie scene that he saw that left its mark on him and compelled him to become a filmmaker. Dylan quickly chose the Pixar film ‘Up.”

Here’s Dylan showing he based his style on the Terminator, Grease and Me.


Quick introduction, Dylan is a POWERHOUSE of creative expression when it comes to cutting videos on the Hurlbut Academy Website. We are lucky to have him on our team. So here he is to tell us more:

I thought I was cultivating my own cinematic tastes until Up came out in 2009, at which point I had a whole new appreciation for a movie could represent; that’s a fancy way of saying I had my mind blown.

Up Cinematography filmmaker film movies tv shooting DP lights

Genuine tears in the first seven minute sequence?  You betcha! Combining childlike playfulness with heavy life lessons? Seamless!

Up delivers on so many levels that by this point, I am somewhere between my 20th and 25th time rewatching it. It was, and remains, a defining “it” movie for me because no other film has been so well executed, so magically entertaining & so inspiring to other filmmakers.  It was one of those films that seemed like an unfathomable achievement of work & talent, but on the other hand made you say, when is my turn?

Up Cinematography filmmaker film movies tv shooting DP lights

That 7 minute sequence at the beginning is the scene that left the mark because it gives us a shot by shot look at a relationship between two people in love – from humour and hope to heartbreak, plans and promises to broken plans and promises – all with the most innocent and childlike soundtrack that heightens the emotions exponentially.

Up Cinematography filmmaker film movies tv shooting DP lights

The repeated motifs like these chairs and this mid-shot adds another dimension to this scene as every time we see them, something else has changed until we get the scene below and we know exactly what has happened.

Up Cinematography filmmaker film movies tv shooting DP lights

One of the writers, Bob Peterson, originally wrote a series of very short scenes for this opening, two or three on a page with dialogue – characters completing each other’s sentences and other snippets that showed how well matched they were. Then as the script became a storyboard, Ronnie Del Carmen, the head of the story, took on that sequence at the beginning and said, “This would be really great with just the Michael Giachinno score playing and no other sounds.”

Pete Docter, who co-directed the movie, gave an interview to the LA Times in which he revealed why they wrote the opening to a movie aimed at the younger generation to be so heart-wrenching.

“From a “feel” standpoint, it was the sense of a life lived, and not only the highs, but the lows. That’s why we put in a couple of dark moments, like them not being able to have children, and of course, her passing away because it actually feels more real, and I think that’s how you remember life being like.”

Up Cinematography filmmaker film movies tv shooting DP lights

“We also talked early on about most of us grew up in homes where our folks were taking Super-8 films of our family. And when you go back and look at those, they’re also silent, but there’s something powerful about having no sound. Conversely, we also have audiotapes of our families, which have no picture, and that’s equally powerful, because in either case, there’s something asked of you as the viewer or listener – you’re actively engaged by creating this missing element, so it comes to life in your own head.”

Docter also professed that they had bought home movies from Ebay to help them to conceive the opening, “and we had no idea who the people in them were, but we’d watch their lives progress and piece them together – we’d note – “Oh, now there’s a new kid in the picture. And what happened to that person? I guess they must’ve moved away.”

Up Cinematography filmmaker film movies tv shooting DP lights

Every Disney/Pixar movie has a colored storyboard chart like this created and you can see from the top 5 rows that have been dedicated to this opening just how important they valued it

Here’s the truth of the thing – I remember when this came out, people joked “Up tells a better love story in 5 minutes than Twilight did in 3 movies.”  That’s not even worth debating because in 5 minutes Up tells a better love story than 3/4 of cinematic history.

Take a look:


Check out part 3 HERE where Lydia breaks down the scene that left a mark on her!


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