Bao is the latest short film to join the ranks of Pixar Shorts and debuts in front of Incredibles 2 on June 15th. Bao is a story about an aging Chinese mother that has recently become an empty nester. She gets another chance at motherhood when a cute little dumpling comes to life. We see dumpling growing up fast and bonding with mom on her day to day activities. Shopping in Chinatown, Tai-chi in the park, and making food together.
Thank you to Disney Pixar for bringing me out to California to Pixar Studios to learn more about animation for the Incredibles 2 and Bao press event.
Bao is a beautiful look into Chinese culture and the immigrant community in Canda from Director’s, Domee Shi’s childhood. Domee Shi is the first female director of a Pixar animated short film. Producer Becky Neiman shares with us that Pixar Shorts are a chance to test new technology and give new leadership opportunities.
Ingredients to making Pixar Short Bao by Director Domee Shi
- Tapping into a love for food – Domee said, “I love food, not just eating it, but drawing it as well.” Food is a universal pleasure that anyone can relate to all over the world, much like stories about love or family.
- Personal experience growing up as an only child – “My mother has always treated me like her precious little dumpling,” Domee said. The story is straight from her own experiences with her mother that she is very close with.
- Chinatown – Such a vibrant nostalgic area with “Chinatown grannies.” Production Designer Rona Liu spent a lot of time visiting Chinatown and looking at the vibrant outfit choices that the Chinese women would wear. Visors, vests, and bold color palettes are among the fashions.
“I have to make an animated short of my own outside of Pixar. It was going to be purely my weekend gig, my side hustle. Basically, a way to let out creative steam,” Domee said. She discovered she really enjoyed creating food-related stories and sharing them with friends. Food folktales like the Gingerbread man inspired Bao as the Chinese version of that and food and family goes hand in hand. “When you want to show you care about someone you ask, ‘Have you eaten yet?’,” Domee said.
Her mother is the “dumpling queen” and shared a special connection making dumplings on the weekends and on holidays. Domee Shi involved her mother as much as possible in the research. She came into Pixar Studios to show the Bao crew how to properly make dumplings. This taught the crew the ins and outs on how to fold the dough properly.
How to make Bao dumplings
Domee animated and shared her mother’s dumpling recipe and allowed us to share it with you. Complete with a little dumpling to help.
We got to try some Bao dumplings at the event! They were fantastic!
Bao is a beautiful story sure to make you “Pixar cry” before Incredibles 2.