Sitting down with Director Brian Fee and Producer Kevin Reher
Thank you so much to Disney/Pixar for sending me on this travel and accommodations provided press trip.
Hopefully you’ve had a chance to see CARS 3 in the theater, if you haven’t don’t read this post until you’ve had a chance to see the film. There’s a major surprise at the end of the movie and I want for you to experience the film the way I did, without any spoilers. I had the opportunity to sit down with CARS 3 director, Brian Fee, and producer, Kevin Reher, before the film was released. I cannot wait for you to read this interview and get some of the insider information on the newest film from Disney/Pixar.

How has the story changed and how has technology changed? Sitting down with Director Brian Fee and Producer Kevin Reher

When you watch CARS 3 for the first time there is a scene where Mack is driving Lightning and Cruz Ramirez across the country. The graphics during that scene look absolutely unbelievably real. It’s stunningly beautiful. We ask both Fee and Reher how they were able to do that.

Kevin & Brian 2

Producer Kevin Reher (L) and Director Brian Fee (R). Photo courtesy of Louise Bishop/

Fee said that they had a new renderer and that means “3D rendering is a creative process that is similar to photography or cinematography, because you are lighting and staging scenes and producing images”, according to He explained,

We can make things look- we can go wholeheartedly into a sense of realism. We try not to say photo realism because I think photo realism, that would actually be kind of boring, we almost want like a hyper realism. We want to be able to control how you feel but we want you to feel like you can smell the air. I want[ed] to make sure you can smell the air. I mean we can’t smell anything, but make me think I can.  So we went for a lot of atmosphere; you’ll see a lot of fog and things that are at a distance are so faded- just like the atmosphere between you and the thing that’s miles away.

Producer Kevin Reher elaborated on the process,

We sent the two production designers on a really wintery week, in a convertible Camaro, because they insisted on a convertible… all the way from Daytona up through the Carolinas. It wasn’t just, internet research, it was [real]. We also went to two tracks that are no longer operable, one which was Occoneechee, which was legendary at the beginnings of stock car, and then Wilkesboro. The caretaker said [when we got there], ‘I’ve mowed the track for you there was so much grass.’

CARS 3 Inside with Fee and Reher

CARS 3 (Pictured) – Thomasville Track concept art by Brandon Coates. ©2017 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Doc Hudson has a very strong presence in the film in the form of flashbacks and daydreams Lightning has, however, Paul Newman who voiced Doc in the first film has since passed away. How were they able to use Newman’s voice when he wasn’t available to film?

Well the Newman Foundation was very generous with us and we let them know that this wasn’t just a marketing trick. This was really integral to the story. We had all these recordings of open mic kind of thing that John [Lasseter] had recorded when he was doing Cars. We had a transcript of all this and tried to fashion the story what line could help us serve the story.  And it’s pretty emotional when you hear it. Then we used the old Doc line, “You think I quit? They quit on me,” which mirrored what had happened to McQueen.

The film has a strong message for kids and parents, both Fee and Reher, gave us their take on what the film meant to them. Fee described,

I originally came at this film and for me it still is the most important part for me personally as a parent. My mother passed away, my father is getting older and I looked at McQueen and Doc’s relationship as a father and son relationship. You could see it as a mentor/mentee, [or] however, people plug into it in their own personal lives. I have [had] that moment- middle of my life, my mom’s passing away and you kind of feel that safety net that you’ve always had; that moment where you get just a little scared that everything you’ve ever known is kind of dropping. I have two daughters and I realized [that] I’m their safety net, like they look up to me; I’m playing that role for them and it’s kind of erased the fear I had of losing my parents, not that I want to see them go, but it gave me new strength [and] a sense of purpose in life.  So to me I look at McQueen’s…transition and that you may think you’re losing something, but the best things [are] still in front of you [and] have yet to come. 

I wanted McQueen to feel that when he spends most of the film trying to do service to his own career and the thing that he thinks he’s most passionate about. [He’s] terrified of losing the one thing that brings him the most joy. I wanted him to see that helping someone else do it is actually, not only just as powerful, but can be more powerful.

Producer Kevin Reher (L) and Director Brian Fee

Producer Kevin Reher (L) and Director Brian Fee (R). Photo courtesy of Louise Bishop/

Reher said, “For me it was the Doc Hudson McQueen relationship and my dad died and I was the car kid, my brother was the sports kid.  He never got to see even Cars One, and so the whole McQueen/Doc stuff just slays me.”

They also told us that originally Cruz Ramierez was going to be a boy but they wanted to diversify the story more and the scene where Cruz talks about dreaming small is actually Cristela Alonzo’s, who voices Cruz, own personal story. Fee explained, “Cristela had a story about growing up wanting to be a comedian in a border town in Texas and her mother told her, “We don’t do that, we clean houses.” [Her mother] was trying to protect her. Just the fact that [Cristela] had to break through that barrier, that actually informed- after we cast her we went back and- because we’re always tweaking and evolving characters as much as we can and we rewrote Cruz’s backstory with that in mind.”

This film is so empowering. It is an absolute must see for this summer. Take your family, go by yourself, whatever you do, go and see CARS 3.

Kevin & Brian group

Photo courtesy of Louise Bishop/


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Remember CARS 3 opens everywhere on June 16th!

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Bert Anderson is a blogger and social media manager mom of three living outside of the Twin Cities in Minnesota. She’s the author behind the blog First Time Mom, where she honestly chronicles the peaks and valleys of parenting. Even though she has more than one child, Bert maintains that whether you have one child or 19, there’s a first time for everything. She’s a lover of coffee, conversations, pop culture, healthy living and fitness.