Dug Days Director Bob Peterson on Voicing Dug for the Pixar Disney+ Shorts - VRGyani News and Media

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Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Dug Days Director Bob Peterson on Voicing Dug for the Pixar Disney+ Shorts

From Pixar Animation Studios, the Disney+ series Dug Days is comprised of five shorts that follow the suburban adventures of Dug, the sweet and lovable dog first introduced in the animated feature Up. Settled into his new home with Carl, the mutt with the high-tech collar that translates his thoughts into speech learns to navigate life co-existing with a neighborhood squirrel, spend the day with some mischievous puppies, share his favorite toys, guard a bird feeder, and hang out with Russell, all while being a very loyal companion.

During this interview with Collider, Bob Peterson (the voice of Dug, who also wrote and directed the series) and producer Kim Collins talked about bringing such a sincere and pure character to life, what inspired the character’s voice, the importance of the director-producer relationship, the challenges of working during a pandemic, what they hope viewers get from these episodes, and their hope to continue the series.

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Collider: I have loved Dug since we were introduced to Dug, so I appreciate more Dug.

BOB PETERSON: Thank you so much.

Dug is just so pure. What do you guys love most about Dug?

PETERSON: That’s it. He’s sincere and pure. We’ve experienced it, a thousand times, where a dog will walk up to you and wag its tail and doesn’t even know you. That sense of pure love comes through with Dug, I think.

KIM COLLINS: Yeah. I would just add that the way he looks at his world as being amazing, we could all use a little bit of that. I know I am inspired by it.

PETERSON: He treats everything with wonder, which is in short supply.

There’s a history of great animated dogs. Is that intimidating when you’re adding a new dog to that lineup?

PETERSON: My favorite dog, as a kid, was Pluto. He was this silent Buster Keaton dog, but he was a dog. He wasn’t standing up and acting like a human in human’s clothes. And then, Lady and the Tramp is dogs, but they have maybe more of a human quality to how they speak. Dug sits in the middle. That’s what was exciting about Dug. He’s a real dog, but you can hear that really simple speech pattern of how a dog might think. So, I wasn’t intimidated because this felt like something maybe somewhat new.

Bob, what’s it like to voice Dug? Was he a voice that you found pretty quickly, initially? Did you have other voices that you tried first?

PETERSON: It’s funny, I don’t remember trying anything else. Dug came out of how I talk to my dogs. When I’m with my dogs, I’ll say, “I love you, dog. You’re a good dog, dog.” That, for whatever reason, came out. I stood up at the mic, just to do the temporary version of Dug, and that popped out and we pretty much stayed with it after that. There really wasn’t much else that I tried.

What’s the relationship like between you guys, as far as working together? What is that director-producer relationship like?

PETERSON: We’re always at odds.

COLLINS: Always.

PETERSON: Kim is so mean.

COLLINS: Well, it’s amazing. You look for a partner, and a professional partner, in making these things. They are a joy and a privilege to work on, but they can be stressful. Streaming is new at Pixar, just how we even make these things. Luckily, Bob had already made Forky Asks a Question, so he had a little bit of experience with how we could make a lot of short form content quite quickly. For me, just coming in new to producing and new to a project such as this one, it was great to be able to just know that we had very open communication about anything.

PETERSON: This show wouldn’t have been done without Kim. We couldn’t have finished it off. She’s a therapist and she’s a whip cracker. She wears a lot of hats and is mainly a problem solver. “How can we get this done? We only have this much time. We don’t have the people. We don’t have the resources for this particular thing. How do we do it?” Kim is always working on those kinds of things.

And then, you add the whole other element of doing it during a pandemic. What extra challenge did that add?

COLLINS: There were the practical ones, like people had to quickly pivot to working from home and we all had slower internet than we needed. It just took a few weeks for everyone to be able to get upgraded and get all of their systems working. There’s the practical side, but then there’s also how we work together, culturally. One of the wonderful things that I love about Pixar, and I’ve been here a really long time now, is that it’s collaborative. We are all about getting together in a room and talking through things or putting out ideas, and once you’re confined to these screens, that really limits that back-and-forth volley. But what was cool is that we found a way to still communicate and find that team approach, even though we were all 8,000 tiny little boxes on the screen. It was cool to see, by the end. At first, we were like, “I don’t know how this is gonna work,” but we got there.

PETERSON: It was fun, with people incorporating their lives into their meetings. You’d have kids sitting on laps, looking in, and cats moving in front of the cameras. That was so great, to see the family and living styles of people.

I love that we also get to hear some other animals in this, not just Dug. How did decide what animals we’d get to here? Why was it a squirrel and a bird that you chose?

PETERSON: It all comes out of Carl and Dug. I wanted Carl to have a project that Dug was interested in, and we decided to do a bird feeder because squirrels and bird feeders are connected. They’re always going after bird feeders. And then, we thought, “Well, why not have a bird show up and get mad because all the seeds are knocked out.” And so, the bird came out of that. Once we knew we had a squirrel, we needed a bird feeder. We debated about whether to even see the squirrel because it’s so fun for Dug to say, “Squirrel,” and then look off and you don’t get to see the squirrel. That was just one of the things we thought, “Well, that can forward the series, to actually see a squirrel in it.” The squirrel was just so fast-moving and cagey that we decided to animate it that way and voice it that way – just a little bit fast and a little bit unfocused. They torture dogs. Squirrels just sit on a fence and do this tail twitch, so I just wanted to make sure that relationship came through very strongly.

I already want more of Dug, and I’m sure anybody watching this is going to want more of Dug, so are you already thinking about more episodes of Dug Days?

PETERSON: Yeah, I’ve got a couple more written that are some fun ones. It’s just a matter of resources and timing, and can we do it? It’d be fun to keep going, if we can.

What do you hope people get from these episodes?

PETERSON: Especially in the pandemic, you just want people to smile. You want people to have a little bit of a respite and laugh a bit. I liked the idea of the caring nature between Carl and Dug. You take that with you, their relationship. And also, just the thought that our dogs and our cats and our pets are complicated family members with emotions, and they should be thought of that way. There’s a lot going on in a dog’s world. And so, hopefully people will think about that a bit more.

I love the show. I loved the little nod to Kevin and her babies. I just bought myself a Kevin action figure recently, so I’m rooting for that to get made so that I can buy a whirligig for my house.

PETERSON: Us too.

Dug Days is available to stream at Disney+ on September 1st.

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