Pixar Short Bao: The Dumpling That Will Steal Your Heart + Bao Recipe
Disclosure: This event and trip to LA was an all expense paid journey sponsored by Disney. All thoughts, opinions and experiences are 100% my own!
While in LA to cover the INCREDIBLES 2 movie, I also had the chance to screen the sweet short that you will see at the beginning of the long awaited INCREDIBLES sequel.
Mamas get your tissues ready. Bao is a wonderful little film that takes you through the journey of motherhood, loving and letting go. Gah! It’s so good but completely spot on in terms of what all of us go through as our children grow up.
In Bao, an aging and lonely Chinese mom gets another chance at motherhood when one of her homemade dumplings bursts into life as an adorable, giggly dumpling boy.
Mom excitedly welcomes this new baby into her home and her life, but little Dumpling starts growing up fast, and Mom must come to the bittersweet conclusion that nothing stays sweet and small forever.
One of the neatest things to me about this entire short is that it was created by Director Domee Shi & Producer Becky Neiman. Domee is so young and darling and she wrote this sweet film based upon her relationship with her mother and the fact that her parents treated her as their “precious little dumpling” while she was growing up.
I really wanted to do a modern take on a classic fairytale like The Little Gingerbread Man but with a Chinese dumpling. And actually I was like just doodling in this image of this mom nuzzling her little baby boy dumpling to death. It just popped into my head. I had to draw it out, and as I was drawing I started developing this story. I was also drawing a lot of inspiration from my own life growing up.
I’m an only child, and ever since I was little I feel like my mom and my dad have always treated me like a precious little dumpling, always making sure that I’m always like safe and never wandered away too far. I want to explore that relationship between this parent and this child and this mom character learning to let go of her little dumpling.
Domee also joked that clearly as a little dumpling she didn’t wander too far away, as she had brought her mother to the interview. In fact, her mother actually didn’t just inspire the short, but she also consulted:
She has a creative consultant credit actually, in the short. We brought in twice to do dumpling-making classes for the whole crew.
Her mother proudly watched as Domee and Becky shared with us more about this movie and it’s meaning. Becky was quick to jump in and share the meaning of the word Bao:
Fun fact. I’m not sure you all know this, but the title Bao has two meanings. One is steam bun and one is treasure or something precious.
When asked about the actual creation and storytelling, Domee pointed out that since there are no words in this short film, detail was everything and at times, challenging:
It was challenging, but I really loved the challenge, because my background is storyboarding. And I just love visual storytelling so much. And so, it was a conscious decision for us to like early on like take out the dialogue completely from the whole short so that the story could be understood, like more universally. So anybody from any country and any like age could understand what was happening. And I think animation is such a cool visual medium, too, that I thought it’d be a cool challenge for the team to just push themselves to just like tell the story and emotions through the acting and through the set dressing, through the colors.
Becky spoke to the actual fine detail that goes on in the sets, right down to the tinfoil covers on the burners:
There are a lot of little details in the sets. Like, in the kitchen there’s tinfoil covering the burners, which, you know, in that subtle way you’re seeing Mom’s practicalness. It’s also something that’s common in Asian households and a lot of little things like that to help teach you who this character is and to tell the story.
To see a young talented girl like Domee find so much success so early in life, we were prompted to ask her just how all of this came to be and I found her answer to be quite inspiring:
I came to Pixar as a story intern in 2011, and the story internship is like a three-month storyboarding bootcamp, and you just like do assignment after assignment. You pitch to a whole room full of like veteran story artists, supervisors, directors, every week. And that was my way of training myself to be up for this job. And then I didn’t know if I was going to get a position afterwards, but they offered me a fulltime position as a story artist on Inside Out after.
I worked on Inside Out for about two and a half years, and then I moved on to The Good Dinosaur. Then I moved on to Toy Story 4. I even did a small stint on Incredibles 2.
It just so happened that one year Pixar was did like almost like an open audition at the studio. Like, anybody who has ideas for short films, you can pitch them to us. And I signed up. I pitched three ideas. Bao was one of them. And then, yeah, the rest is history.
So inspiring right? A great reminder to follow your dreams because they really can come true!
I don’t want to tell you too much more about this darling short, I’m afraid I’ll spoil it but I can tell you … it’s definitely something to look forward to when you go to see INCREDIBLES 2 which hits theaters June 15th!!
Here’s a peek at what this short is all about:
Bao Recipe (Chinese Steamed Dumplings)
As an added bonus, the folks from Disney Pixar are sharing Domee’s Mom’s Super Delicious Recipe for Bao! Also known as Chinese Steamed Dumplings, it’s so exciting to know that after you watch this darling short you can make your own little dumplings to love (or eat!)
You can print out this Bao Chinese Steamed Dumplings recipe to enjoy!
Enjoy!! And don’t forget that this is all part of the INCREDIBLES 2 movie
coming out this month!!
Get a peek at the INCREDIBLES 2 Official Trailer:
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