Everyone knows about the classic Disney tropes -- the princesses, the princes, the true love, the happily-ever-afters. That's where Disney's latest, Brave, wanders away from regular expectations.

Featuring a red-headed young Scot named Merida, this is the first Pixar film to focus on a female protagonist. Moviefone caught up with the director, Mark Andrews, and producer Katherine Sarafian to talk about how this film differs from any other Pixar movie before it, why they chose Scotland, and what message they hope to send to little girls.

What were some of the major challenges you faced with Brave?Sarafian: The story is the most challenging part -- it's the hardest thing to do, and it takes the longest. You can never assume you've got it right, even when the movie's released. You always want to make it better. It takes about four - six years to finish each film.

Andrews: No matter how much time you think you have, it ends up feeling like no time at all. You play around with so many permutations of each idea, and you try a first time, a second time, a third time. We have a motto at work, and that is: "A story is hell. It's the 666th layer of the abyss." We're not adapting something here, we're starting fresh and working from the ground up.

How did you come to choose Scotland for the story, and what was it like scouting for Brave?MA: Both Katherine and I have Scottish heritage, and I'm a history buff, a Scottish legends and myths buff. Scotland is so rich with that stuff, and the Celts who came up to the islands had an oral tradition where they just told stories. It's what we do today, just with books and movies, so this story just seemed to fit in there. It was a natural setting for this coming-of-age story, this parent-child dynamic. The only other place we could have put it was in space...

KS: There wasn't a day that went by without you talking about Brave in space. [Laughs] But really, we had the story in mind, and then we went on a research trip to Scotland. Fortuitously, this country ended up being the perfect place for this story. It had all the dramatic changes of landscape, the dark forests, the treacherous cliffs, but also the lighter, magical places that we needed to tell the story.

This is the first Pixar film to focus on a female protagonist. What sort of message are you hoping to send to young female viewers, and to viewers in general?KS: We didn't start out thinking about that, but then we ended up talking about it a lot. We wanted a teenaged character, who just so happened to be a girl and happened to be royal. I would love for people to embrace Merida as a character, and as a hero. I would love if people could see something inspirational in her, particularly that you can speak your truths and seek what you want to out of life. It's OK to carve out your own path while being true to yourself.

MA: That's the big issue. In this land, and in this particular era of traditions, there are a lot of preconceived notions of what a woman or a man needs to be. It's sad that we have to come back around from the ancient times when the women and the men were sort of equal, and we didn't have any of these notions of Prince Charming or Mr. Right or anything like that. No matter who you are, be brave enough to be yourself. I think that's the message. %VIRTUAL-MtGallery-236SLIDEEXPAND--233918%
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Merida (Kelly Macdonald), the impetuous but courageous daughter of Scottish King Fergus (Billy Connolly)... Read More

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