The newest Pixar Short Bao plays in front of Incredibles 2 starting on Friday, June 15. This sweet story is about a mother’s love and her love language: food! Filmmaker Domee Shi shared her mom’s dumplings recipe and the origins of her first Pixar Short with us at the Incredibles 2 Event. And I’m sharing all of that with you today. And making dumplings because ZOMG these are delicious!
Disney Pixar paid for my airfare and accommodations on the Incredibles 2 Events, but the tears shed over the sweet Pixar Short Bao were all my own! 😉
I had the extreme luck to not only see two showings of Bao in advance, but I also attended two different presentations with the Bao filmmakers. One at Pixar Studios this past April and one more recently in Los Angeles for the Incredibles 2 Event press junket.
When I first met Domee Shi at the Pixar Studios, I knew she was a woman after my own heart. She told us that she came up with the idea for Bao because she was hungry. That is as good a reason as any, I think, to get your creative juices flowing!
In that presentation, Domee showed a few of her doodles that proved that when she put pen to paper, it often related to her love of food. That love of food, and equating food with love, is something she says is instilled with her from her childhood.
As an only child to Chinese-Canadian parents, her mom and dad doted on her. Domee’s mom, in particular, showed her love by cooking delicious foods and that’s always been something she’s related to when it comes to her art.
After watching Bao for the first time (and crying, a lot- this is Pixar, after all! So bring your tissues!) I wanted to learn more about how the story came together.
After seeing it a second time, I became a little obsessed with this mom-centric story. Domee and Bao producer Becky Neiman sat down with us to talk about the making of Bao- and they even brought Domee’s mom to the session!
The Women Behind the Creation of Bao
Pixar has a long history of putting a short animated movie in front of their longer productions, and also of creating short films on their own. But can you believe that Domee Shi has the distinction of becoming the first female director for a Pixar Short? It’s something that she admitted she didn’t have time to absorb just yet!
Domee Shi: “I feel super honored and humble, but hopefully I’m the first of many female short film directors and feature film directors. Yeah, it’s just — it’s been awesome. I was telling Becky like it almost didn’t hit me that I would be the first, because making the short I was just focused on finishing it and hoping that people liked it or understood it.”
Becky Neiman: “It’s happening. Yeah, and you had a really strong female leadership team. We, you know — it’s us, but it’s also our editor, our production designer, our sound editor, our production manager, technical manager. It was super inspiring for us.”
The Inspiration Behind Bao
The story may be a Pixar Short, but the time it took to see it come to the screen was anything but! Domee said she’d been working on the idea for Bao for almost 4 years. That’s an amazing takeaway in this day and age of quick and fast social media driven results; sometimes success takes time.
Domee Shi: “Oh, I came up with the idea over four years ago technically. I think it was in my office late one night and I was really hungry. But I really wanted to, one, just do a modern take on a classic fairytale like The Little Gingerbread Man but with a Chinese dumpling. And actually, I was 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. My mom is actually over there. So, I didn’t wander 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.”
Becky chimed in to let us know that Bao has two meanings. One is steam bun and the other one is a little more precious. Or exactly that: Bao can also mean treasure or something precious.
Domee’s mom smiled on proudly throughout the entire discussion. And as a mom myself, I couldn’t help but sneak a peek at her every now and then to watch her joy over what her child has accomplished. It was truly a special moment to watch for all of us in the room.
Getting the Dumpling Details Right In Bao
The short needed to be as accurate as possible for Domee, especially when it came to the making of Dumpling. I mean, she was basing all this on her own childhood and her mother’s recipe, so you know she wanted it done correctly.
Her mom was brought in to create her dumplings recipe for the crew twice and received creative credit for that as well!
Domee Shi: “It was really important for us to get all of those little details right and to get the animators and effects artists in there studying my mom’s technique of how she folds the dumpling exactly and kneads the dough and just, you know, poking the dough and smelling the pork filling. ‘Cause it was important to get those details right, just to get them as accurate as possible on the big screen.”
The Dumplings Recipe Inspired That Inspired The Pixar Short Bao
Also, something I just want to touch on before you move on to the dumplings recipe. This is the “fair warning” part of the post: The filmmakers let us know that they are getting the feedback that this one is emotional on many levels.
Becky Neiman: “At Tribeca we had a woman come up to us and she said, you know, my boyfriend he never cries. He’s like not very emotional, but he sobbed at your short. We just need to make sure you guys know this. And that made us –”
Domee Shi: “Made a grown man cry.”
And that made them cry! So… yeah. Without giving anything away, know that it’s one of those stories!
So exactly how do you make dumplings? It was a question I had after watching the short and talking to Domee & Becky. Thankfully, Domee and mom decided to share their dumplings recipe with the world!
While I’m not a cook, per se, I do love trying new things. Especially when I can enlist my daughters in the process because they both love spending time in the kitchen. It may not be my love language, but it certainly is theirs. If you’re looking for fun Incredibles recipes, I have a few you can check out!
But here’s how you make dumplings by Domee Shi’s mom. Because I know that’s what you came here looking for!
Domee Shi’s Mom’s Dumpling Recipe
Thanks, Domee & Mom for sharing part of your love with all of us! And everyone: go see Incredibles 2 and Bao this weekend (and take a tissue if you are susceptible to loving your child so deeply you might go to drastic measures to keep them safe… you know, if you are a mom or dad, basically).
You can download the entire Bao dumplings recipe PDF here.
Oh my gosh— so relatable!
I’m even laughing how Mom doesn’t quite show up in the full Facetime frame, because, yes, this happens when we try to call my parents too! This Bao dumplings recipe is as adorable as it is delicious.
Awww, Dumpling is going to help us! I know my own little dumplings are going to help me make this dumplings recipe just like this little guy.
How stinking cute is this?!
I’m with Dumpling here.
Nap while the dough rises! You gotta fit those naps in when you can, I always say. Ha!
My daughters love this part of making meals. They think covering the counter with flour and kneading, rolling out dough is a lot of fun. Baking is their favorite activity, after all!
And I think it’s a lot of fun watching them do it. So this works for us as mother/daughter bonding time and I know they will love learning how to make dumplings with me.
Fun all around, amirite? Ha!
Now it’s getting good! And when you see the short, you’ll appreciate this step even more.
Getting the right twist to the top is key!
More Incredibles 2 Posts and Interviews
ABOUT INCREDIBLES 2
Written and directed by Brad Bird (“Iron Giant,” “The Incredibles,” “Ratatouille”) and produced by John Walker (“The Incredibles,” “Tomorrowland”) and Nicole Grindle (“Sanjay’s Super Team” short, “Toy Story 3” associate producer), Disney•Pixar’s “Incredibles 2” busts into theaters on June 15, 2018.
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Patty Holliday is a Marvel loving, Disney obsessed wife, and mother of four. She’s a travel agent specializing in Disney & Universal vacations- and loves a candid confession. Find her in Virginia (or anywhere frequent flyer miles or her trusty minivan takes her.)