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Inside Look into Disney’s Pete’s Dragon


We were invited as a guest of Disney to the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood for a meet and greet with the director and screenwriter of the upcoming film Pete’s Dragon, David Lowery and one of the movies main characters, Bryce Dallas Howard.

I was so excited while on my way to the event at the El Capitan. The story Pete’s Dragon had always been one of my favorites as a child, and I was looking forward to hearing David’s take on this beloved classic from my childhood.

The 1977 version of Pete’s Dragon centers on the adventure of an orphaned boy and his magical dragon. This reimagined version of Pete’s Dragon still centers on the friendship and adventures of an orphaned boy and his friend, Elliott, who is also a 20-foot dragon.


David Lowery showed us five scenes from the movie and gave us the premise of each scene and then Scott Mantz of Access Hollywood brought out David and Bryce Dallas Howard for a little Q & A about the film.

Pete’s Dragon tells a story of a local wood carver, (brilliantly played by Robert Redford), who has long been telling stories of a dragon who lives deep in the woods. His daughter, (Bryce Dallas Howard), is a forest ranger who stumbles across a young orphaned boy, Pete (Oakes Fegley) who has been living in the forest for the past six years and claims to live in the woods with a giant dragon.


I wondered how David Lowery went from filming, “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints,” to Disney’s Pete’s Dragon. The tone is very different. It wasn’t hard for David. He felt that while yes, there was less violence; this is my movie, my story to tell. David did not rewatch the original Pete’s Dragon. He wanted to be sure that this was a reimagined story of the little boy, Pete, and his beloved dragon, Elliott. David and his longtime writing partner, Toby Halbrooks, have written a beautiful story that centers on the friendship between this little boy and his pet dragon. If you are familiar with Lowery’s films, you know that his movies have a timeless feel to them. There is nothing contemporary in a Lowery film. He picks cars from the late 70’s/early 80’s so it helps to make the movie timeless.


It was important for the director to shoot everything as practical as possible; to make everything else real and uses very little green screen. So they went to New Zealand to film and drove 2 hours daily into the forest to shoot. They found the most beautiful locations and it definitely was worth it. They have a 20-foot dragon that in this film if there were a lot of green screens, the reality would be lost.


For the director, when it came time to design Elliott, the beloved dragon, he thought of his cats. Elliott was loosely based on his cats. The director felt if you had a dragon similar to that in Game of Thrones, you would have something that was dark and cold but if you had a furry dragon, you would want to snuggle up next to him. Fur is integral to that.

The casting of Oakes Fegley as Pete was a no brainer. Casting Director, Debra Zane looked at thousands of remarkable young actors for the role of Pete. She narrowed it down to roughly 150, and when Oakes walked into the room, they just knew. David lets the actors create content for them to be themselves. Ms. Howard and Mr. Redford were in awe of the amazing young talent in this film. Oakes reminded Ms. Howard of her father, Ron Howard; in the sense that they both had/have no idea at the extent of his talents. Oakes Fegley is deeply sensitive and so beautiful to act against. Oona Laurence, who plays Pete’s friend, Natalie, in the film also, had the veteran actors in awe. Oona is incredibly talented and unassuming.


For Bryce Dallas Howard, when she heard that this film wasn’t a straight up remake, she wanted this role. The movie kept to the main idea, and that’s centering on friendship. She loved being part of this beautiful story. As a parent, she wants to take her children to movies that are innocent, timeless and have beautiful values.

Do not miss Disney’s Pete’s Dragon opens in theaters on August 10th.

Chantile is a wife and stay at home mom to an amazing little girl. She is active in her daughters school, enjoys volunteering and is always looking for her next marathon or triathlon to tackle
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