Snail Story

From the old Henry’s Tacos stand to Encino’s Premier Car Wash, get ready to have fun film-spotting iconic Valley locales in the new animated comedy Turbo, which hits theatres this month. David Soren conceived of and directs the DreamWorks movie, which centers around the aspirations of a Valley-dwelling garden snail.

  • Category
  • Edited by
    Linda Grasso

How did you come up with the idea for Turbo?

There were two major inspirations. The first is my 6-year-old son, who since before he could talk has been obsessed with cars. The second is my front yard, which had a snail problem. So, long story short: yard full of snails + living room littered with toy racecars = TURBO!

Given your disdain for snails, how did one come to be your “hero”?

Their lives are filled with obstacles, like hateful gardeners who try to eradicate them, French people who eat them, crows who pluck them, kids who smush them. Plus they are really slow. But that’s the point! Nobody expects them to succeed, which is exactly what makes them the perfect underdogs.

First time I’ve heard the term “animated sports comedy.” Can you elaborate?

Many of my favorite underdog movies are sports-related: Rocky, The Karate Kid, Breaking Away. Nothing like that had been done in animation yet. Though Turbo lives in the front yard of a house in the Valley and spends his days working at the local (tomato) plant, his nights are spent in the garage, watching racing on TV. He dreams of one day winning the Indianapolis 500.

Is this all a dream come true for you?

Absolutely. As you can imagine, trying to get a snail-racing movie green-lit in Hollywood has its own set of challenges, but I loved the idea of this character who refuses to give up on his dream. I could definitely relate.

Making a movie can be a long, arduous process. Was this?

I first pitched the idea 10 years ago! The development process moved at a snail’s pace. I worked on several other projects during that time, and there were many years where I didn’t touch it at all. But once Turbo was finally green-lit, the actual production only took about two and a half years. That’s pretty fast for an animated movie!

What do you like about living in the Valley?

It’s got great character. That’s why so much of Turbo is set here. I love the people. The diversity. The dearly departed original Henry’s Tacos was a huge inspiration for our taco stand in the movie called Dos Bros Tacos. As were many of the strip malls, nail salons, ranch-style homes … even the 101 and LA River get cameos.

Do you have any favorite haunts here?

Little Izaka-ya. We go there for sushi nearly every week. Handy J Car Wash gets the job done right, and a shout-out to the Beverly Glen Farmers Market. There’s a lady who sells chicken pot pies there who’s going to hook me up after I show her this article!