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Toy Story 3 Recreation Debuting at BVU

September 24, 2019 5:13am

An eight-year labor of loves hits the big screen at 7 p.m. Thursday as Morgan McGrew, a 2018 graduate of Buena Vista University, and brother Mason McGrew, a BVU senior, debut their recreation of “Toy Story 3” in Anderson Auditorium.

The event, hosted by BVTV, the campus television station, is open to the public.

To borrow a phrase from character Buzz Lightyear, the project has taken the McGrews “to infinity and beyond.”

Two movie trailers for their “Toy Story 3” recreation have been viewed on YouTube in excess of 2 million times each, and have drawn commentary from Lee Unkrich, director of “Toy Story 3.”

The McGrews have been featured by the Today Show, ABC News, Business Insider, Yahoo News, Mashable, and Disney-Pixar, among others.

“The movie came out on June 18, 2010, and our parents, Mike and Marcia McGrew, took us to the theatre to see it,” Mason McGrew says. “I was 11 at the time; Morgan was 14. It’s my favorite movie of all-time, something I relate to.”

By the time he turned 12, Mason McGrew was working to recreate the movie, shot by shot. He and Morgan used toys, paint, people, parks, schools, and more as props in shooting tens of thousands of photos using the mobile app Stop Motion Pro, all of it shot on an iPhone.

Morgan’s bedroom in the family’s home at Ankeny was remade to represent sites in the movie, such as the inside of a garbage truck, Sunnyside Daycare, Bonnie’s room, and a landfill. The boys painstakingly modeled Mason’s room after Andy’s bedroom in the movie.

“The majority of our recreation of the movie was shot in our home,” Mason says. “We shot the film everywhere we grew up. Some of it was shot at BVU, a portion of it at Park View Middle School in Ankeny, and some at Ankeny High School.”

Mason, who says the film will appear in full on YouTube prior to the screening, laughs while recounting hiccups Mother Nature threw at these creative forces on one busy day of filming.

“I was 40 pictures into a stop motion when the power went out due to a storm, and I questioned whether I should keep going,” says Mason, who, like his brother, serves as co-creator, co-director, co-editor, co-producer, and co-stop-motion animator. He waited until the next day, resulting in a 6-second shot that took 24 hours to execute.

Twenty-four hours is a mere morsel when it comes to this 7-year itch, one they’ll scratch Thursday at BVU. The recreated movie lasts 1 hour, 35 minutes. A question-and-answer session with this pair of BVU digital media majors will follow, as will a reception at BVU’s SSA Art Gallery, which has an exhibit of 30-plus props used during filming.

“We were going to put this film together at some point, regardless,” says Mason, who serves as co-station manager for BVTV and vice president of videography for the Student Activities Board. “Now that we’ve completed it, it’s something for all Disney and Pixar fans to enjoy.”

Caption: Brothers Morgan, left, and Mason McGrew, of Ankeny, debut their “Toy Story 3: In Real Life,”  at 7 p.m. Thursday in Anderson Auditorium on the campus of Buena Vista University in Storm Lake. Both McGrews have studied and worked in the digital media program at BVU. Both have also earned the prestigious Student Production Award from the Upper Midwest Emmy Foundation, the only BVU students to earn the honor.