Pictured from left: Sheriff Woody, Morgan McGrew, Mason McGrew, Buzz Lightyear.
Jan. 24, 2018
The room looks nearly identical to Andy's. From a messy desk to his memorable blue bedspread, and even a handmade toy box with Mr. Potato Head, a bedroom in Ankeny is now an exact replica of the recognizable scenes from Disney-Pixar's Toy Story. Digital media majors Morgan McGrew, a senior, and Mason McGrew, a freshman, have dedicated much of the last five years to creating Toy Story sets within their own home in order to re-create the third film within the franchise. “As soon as Toy Story 3 came out, we realized that we loved the movies just as much as we used to, and we decided to create something based on the films that have always inspired us,” says Morgan.
The project clearly stems from the brothers' love of the 1995 Disney classic, which may be a simple concept for the McGrews, but the media has a much different take. ABC News, Business Insider, the Today Show, and Disney Pixar have all caught wind of the “Disney magic” going on in the bedroom Mason grew up in, and have covered their story on multiple stations and social media outlets. The brothers have shot live action scenes at a daycare, a local junkyard, and other settings, but none have garnered as much attention as the life-sized replica of Andy's bedroom. For the McGrews, who are both interested in videography, it's something new and creative to work on each day. “It's cool seeing how something you dreamed about comes together and really succeeds. From building the sets completely on our own to the animation, it's gratifying for us,” says Morgan. While finding and building lookalike props proved to be a challenge in itself, the hardest part of the project for the pair was collecting stickers to replicate the ones seen in Andy's room, and placing them exactly as they are seen in the film.
Both Morgan and Mason chose to attend BVU because of the digital media program and creative leadership opportunities it provides. They also identified with the passion professors hold for their profession. In fact, Jerry Johnson, assistant professor of digital media and Class of 1985, is considered the resident Disney expert on campus, which is evident upon entering his Disney-clad office. Johnson leads an annual January Interim travel course to Disney World to teach students about the power of storytelling. Morgan has sought Johnson's advice over the past three and a half years as he learned about video perspectives, three-point lighting, and setting up shots. From a marketing perspective, the brothers have also applied classroom lessons to raise awareness about their special project.
“It's cool seeing how something you dreamed about comes together and really succeeds. From building the sets completely on our own to the animation, it's gratifying for us.”Morgan McGrew
With guidance from his professors and digital media friends, Mason immediately got involved at BVU and began using recording equipment during his first week on campus in August as he captured video of an evening football game. He's currently exploring exactly what path he'd like to pursue within the digital media realm. As for Morgan, he approaches the end of his senior year having completed a marketing and promotions internship at WOI Des Moines as well as a video production internship with Meredith Corporation where he created more than 50 videos for Better Homes and Gardens.
“It's really fun to make things with Morgan because he is so creative and does a fantastic job filming and editing. Any project I work with him on is fun,” says Mason. One of their favorite aspects of directing and producing the re-creation of Toy Story 3 is filming at different locations, then going back and watching the footage to see what they like and finding aspects in which they can improve upon.
The McGrews shoot scenes whenever they have a chance, but it's a work in progress. They say it's the sense of achievement and success of creating something on their own by using techniques they've learned in class that led them to choosing the digital media field, and that their parents couldn't be more proud. “They've witnessed what we can build with our hands, and seeing the scenes come to life is really exciting for them, too, because they're also big movie fans,” says Morgan. Mason says that he and his brother are similar in a lot of ways, and looks forward to seeing what they create together at BVU and after they graduate. The McGrews plan to release their film version of Toy Story 3 sometime before the premiere of Toy Story 4 in 2019.