- This article is about the movie. For the book, see Saige Paints the Sky.
- Sidney Fullmer as Saige Copeland
- Mika Abdalla as Dylan
- Alana Gordillo as Gabi
- Alex Peters as Tessa
- Laurel Harris as Marina Copeland
- Kerr Smith as David Copeland
- Jane Seymour as Mimi
- Omar Paz Trujillo as Luis
- Rebecca Gibson as Principal Laird
- Stephanie Sy as Mrs. Applegate
- Kate Gajdosik as Mrs. Patterson
- Director: Vince Marcello
- Producers: Jean A. Mckenzie and Debra Martin Chase
- Executive Producers: Steven Brown and Gaylyn Fraiche
- Co-Producer: Erin Falligant
- Director of Photography: Jon Joffin, ASC
- Edited By: Paul Millspaugh
- Production Designer: Robb Wilson King
- Costume Designer: Mary Partridge
Saige is seen drawing outside of her home, working with pastels. Her mother calls her—interrupting her concentration—and tells her to get ready for school. She gathers up her art supplies and heads indoors; she then quickly gets ready for her first day of fourth grade, picking out an outfit and accessories, and making sure to put art supplies in her backpack before coming down to breakfast. Her father, a hot air balloon pilot, shows the images from his hot air balloon design that he will have at the yearly festival, designed from sketches Saige provided. Saige says that she'll be glad for school as she has not seen her best friend Tessa Jablonsky all year, and her mother eventually gets Saige onto the bus for school.
Saige arrives at her first day of class at Mesa Grande Elementary and meets back up with Tessa, who has spent all summer at music camp. They speak back and forth, and then Tessa introduces Dylan Patterson, who had been in another class last year; they met at music camp and sang a duet at the end. When Saige tries to tell her about her summer drawing, Dylan cuts her off and leaves Saige feeling ignored. Her teacher, Mrs. Applegate, asks for the students to take their seats at two-person tables; Saige goes to sit by Tessa but Dylan sits next to her, and so Saige takes a seat at an empty table. Mrs. Applegate then introduces Gabi, a new girl who has moved up from South Albuquerque. Gabi takes the empty seat beside Saige. She introduces herself and says that she knows Mimi Copeland, Saige's grandmother, and has studied her art. She is an artist of her own, focusing mainly on anime style art and clothes design. Saige is slightly indifferent to her but friendly. Mrs. Applegate says that they will have a good year, but there is one sad announcement; the art class has been dropped from the school's curriculum due to budget cuts, and this year there will be only music, and next year will be art. Saige is devastated.
After school, Saige goes to Mimi's house and meets up with Luis, Mimi's neighbor and friend. She sees Mimi out in the riding fence on Picasso, and she is doing a scarf trick where she lets two scarves unfurl as she rides. She and Saige go out on a ride and Saige discusses the lack of art. She tells Mimi further about the situation, and Mimi proposes that proposed a school-wide protest against the decision. Saige feels like she can't do anything.
Tessa agrees to go to Mimi's house with Saige instead of going to Dylan's house. Gabi invites Saige to her house, but Saige turns her down by saying she is busy. Tessa comes over to her house. They sing, paint, eat and play. Saige feels like she has her best friend back. As Saige is telling her grandmother about Tessa and her other friends, she hears a thud and Rembrandt barking. She runs into the studio to see Mimi on the ground; she has tripped over Rembrandt and badly injured herself. Saige runs towards Luis's house, who comes over and contacts the ambulance. Saige is hysterical at the accident. At the hospital, Mimi implores Saige to continue on with her protest. Saige agrees and promises to do so for her grandmother.
At school, Saige, Tessa, Gabi and Dylan discuss plans on staging the protest, with Saige coming up with "A Day of Beige" after her visit to the hospital. Dylan suggests a press conference in order to gain more attention since her mother works as a news reporter, to which Saige reluctantly complies. The demonstrations are held as planned with all of the students wearing beige in protest but is nearly put to a halt as Saige and her friends are summoned to the principal's office to explain the situation. After a bit of a talk, Principal Laird gives the girls the permission to hold a press conference. The conference takes place, but upon being interviewed, Saige is overwhelmed with stage fright, and Dylan answers the reporters' questions in her place as Saige runs off. She is found by the principal, who tries Gabi, Dylan, and Tessa run up and ask if everything is okay—but then switch to how Dylan answered the questions easily. Saige swallows her disquiet.
Principal Laird tells the girls that even with a press conference and protest, the school board has informed her that there aren't any more funds to hire a full-time art teacher. Saige suggests that they instead hire a part-time teacher after school. Principal Laird says that this is plausible, but that they would need to earn five thousand dollars by mid-October to be able to add it into the budget this year—about six weeks away.
Mimi suggests a fund drive to be held at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, and to have her granddaughter lead the parade in her place as she may not make it in time for the event. Saige worries that she might freak out in front of people, but her father assures her that it will be alright.
The four girls get together to decide what should be done to raise the money in the time they have. Saige proposes things such as lemonade stands. Dylan says that odd jobs will not earn enough money, but Saige thinks they should try anyway and says Dylan is wrong. After a lemonade stand, car wash, and bake sale very little has been earned, Dylan looking more and more assured and Saige feeling more and more despondent.
At the after-school rehearsal for show choir (which Dylan and Tess are part of), Gabi says that they look good performing. Saige seems rather indifferent. After rehearsal (which ran over), Tessa informs them that the song they are performing to was written by Dylan; Saige remains polite but indifferent. They ask how much money has been earned, and Saige says $83.77. Gabi says that's not bad. Dylan condescendingly says that another bake sale should get them the total, and when Saige says that it's more than asks if she has any ideas, Dylan says they should do a concert at the fiesta, and she could write the songs. When Saige asks what that has to do with art—which they are trying to restore back to classes—Dylan says that music is in trouble too. She continues that music is more exciting with dancing and singing and that all that a person can do with art is "look at it". But, she adds on, if Saige and Gabi don't want to be a part of the concert they can make their own "art" fundraiser instead, and Tessa can be in the concert with her. Tessa agrees that a concert would be fun, and Saige says they can just split up. Dylan says she and Tessa can go off to plan and leaves. Tessa starts to leave, but stops and asks Saige if she is okay. Saige lies and says she's fine, and Tessa only pushes a little before going off with Dylan.
Later at the ranch, Saige and her horse Picasso do a practice run, but Saige is frustrated from what happened with Tessa and can't concentrate on the ride, and can't get Picasso to do the parade gait. Luis says that has been enough practice and goes to get water for Picasso. While Luis is away, Saige finally gets him to do the parade gait. Luis returns and praises her. Saige gets tense from the praise and Picasso, sensing her tension, falls out of the parade gait. She thinks this is hopeless, and that if she can't even get Picasso into parade gait in from of him she can't do it in front of hundreds of people. Luis shows Saige horse blinders and how they use them when they need to get Picasso to perform without distractions. He suggests that she pretend she is wearing blinders and block out distractions.
Saige and Gabi haven't figured out a fundraiser yet, and are worried that Dylan and Tessa's concert is getting more attention—over fifty kids have already signed up. Gabi invites Saige to her house, but Saige is reluctant and says that she's going over Mimi's. Gabi says she can meet her there, then. Saige agrees reluctantly.
Saige and Picasso do another practice at the ranch. With Luis's suggestion of mental blinders, Saige gets Picasso to perform the parade gait in front of Luis. Luis says that they should try with scarves next practice. Saige reluctantly agrees; she has not said how nervous and frustrated practice has made her.
Gabi comes into the studio and is very impressed with the supplies and paintings as she has only used lower quality supplies. Saige tries to paint and ignore her, but finally gets frustrated and snaps at her, hurting her feelings. Saige realizes she was mean needlessly and apologizes; she explains that she feels the studio is a special place that only she, Tessa and Mimi have been in—and now Gabi. As they're making up, Rembrandt knocks Saige's still wet painting to the floor. Gabi says that the dog hair looks neat, and Saige says that maybe she can use it to add texture. As she paints the hair in, Gabi says it looks good. Saige agrees—and then says she has an idea for a fundraiser.
As Saige and Gabi try to tell the story the next day at school, Tessa is tense watching them get along. Dylan asks them to get to the point rather meanly; Tessa adds that they have to get to music class. Saige suggests that art and music can be combined in the same way, for the concert. Dylan says that they can't add art to music. Gabi tries to explain but Dylan says that it can't be added, and when Saige tries to discuss it, Dylan is abrasive and says that the two cannot be combined. Saige tries to talk to Tessa, Tessa says that Dylan has a point and they have been working hard on the music. Saige accuses Tessa of just going along with Dylan, and that the "old Tessa" would have listened to what she would have had to say. Dylan suggests they leave, and Saige then flies into a rage against Dylan. She says she's sick of her and that she takes over everything and that she's annoying. Tessa stops the fight and says the "old Saige" would never talk to anyone like that before walking off with a hurt Dylan to rehearsal. Saige tries to apologize, but Tessa leaves, and Saige sits back down.
Saige tries to talk Mimi into using the brush pens, but Mimi says that she can't do things like anymore. Saige tries to discuss doing art again, including coming to the parade; Mimi says that she's not up to any of it, even going to the parade. Saige gets upset and confesses that things are worse than she has been admitting, but that the Mimi she knows wouldn't give up before she runs off.
Another practice run with Picasso takes place, and Saige tries to focus. As Gabi and her parents arrive and cheer her on, Saige freaks out, spooking Picasso badly to the point Luis has to come help her off horseback before she is hurt. She dismounts and throws her helmet on the ground, shrieking that she can't do the parade ride and the Fiesta will be a disaster because of it. She goes on that she can't do it with everyone watching, and that she can't do anything—raise money, ride in the parade, any of it—and that she isn't friends with Tessa since Dylan came along. She hysterically screams that she wants everything to go back to what it was like last year. Gabi, hurt—as she was not there last year-quietly says she is going home, and Saige begs her not to leave. When Saige's mother tries to comfort her, Saige runs off into the wilds, crying.
Saige and her father go up in a balloon ride, and Saige says that she doesn't understand why things change. Her father explains that change is good, and alludes it to plotting a balloon ride and that he can plot the course. He explains that Saige will need to accept the same changes in her grandmother and life, then suggests the see where the wind takes them.
The next day at school, Saige apologizes to Gabi for her actions and asks for forgiveness. Gabi says she understands her and they reconcile. That afternoon, Saige apologizes to Mimi for her tantrum, and that she will accept that her grandmother needs to go at her own pace. Saige tries repeatedly at the scarf trick; Luis suggest they stop practice but Saige insists that she has to keep trying instead of giving up. Mimi watches through her bedroom window; Saige's perseverance inspires her to pick up the brush pens that Saige initially brought her in the hospital.
After practice, Saige goes to Mimi's studio. As she's starting on the horse painting, she picks up a painting knife instead of the paintbrush. The blotting of the paint inspires her to be less photorealistic, and she paints faster and faster, ultimately modifying her art into a much more abstract, dynamic, colorful work. As she finishes, Tessa comes into the studio and says it's the best thing Saige has ever painted. Saige is quiet, and Tessa says that they should work together. She didn't realize how rude she was being in her new friendship with Dylan and that she became jealous when she saw Gabi and Saige finishing each other's sentences. They reconcile and hug. Tessa then explains that the concert has fallen apart and isn't going to be a fundraiser anymore. Dylan was so forceful about the way the concert should be that almost everyone dropped out. Saige looks at Mimi's unfinished art and gets an idea to restore the fundraiser performance.
In a montage, Saige works with the principal, show choir, school band, and others to help redesign the fundraising concert. In between, she works on an unseen art piece. During the painting of what appears to be concert background, Dylan walks up quietly, and Saige walks over to her, asking her if she wants to help. Dylan asks if she's sure, and then apologizes for taking over, and that she wants to be part of things so badly she takes over and covers up nervousness with jokes. Dylan explains that she gets nervous around Saige because of her friendship with Tessa, which made her jealous. Saige confesses to Dylan that she's jealous of her friendship with Tessa. Saige says that she should have communicated clearly and not been quietly angry. She and Dylan become friendly, and she suggests Dylan go help learn the new song from Tessa, and the reconcile as well.
The 16th Annual Balloon Fiesta starts, and Saige nervously talks to Picasso. She then sees that Mimi had made it to the parade in her wheelchair. Mimi surprisingly pushes to her feet; she hadn't walked since the accident, although now she must use a cane. Saige says she's worried that she will freak out and can't do the scarf trick. Mimi says that she will do alright, and doesn't have to do the scarves. She then shows Saige the art she's done with the brush pens, and that she was inspired by Saige's perseverance and she is Mimi's muse.
At the start of the parade, the announcer explains that the usual grand marshal, Mimi, cannot perform so her granddaughter Saige is taking her place. Saige starts to walk out and thinks "blinders." to help her focus. The parade starts off well; however, camera flashes cause Saige to panic and lose focus. She has a panic attack so badly that Picasso comes to a stop. It takes a long moment (displayed with inner voice-overs of her family and friends, concluding with Mimi's) before Saige continues, and she successfully performs the scarf trick to the cheering crowd.
The performance starts with Principal Laird discussing the benefits of art and music in school education, with a nervous Saige off stage. She then informs the crowd that they have raised about two thousand dollars, but need the last three thousand to restore art to the school curriculum and implores for donations. The performance, "Living Art", is a montage of students dancing, using images from Mimi's unfinished painting as a theme of art brought to life (performing as the people and images in the painting). Saige gives the introduction voice-over from off stage, and Tessa and Dylan sing the song written by them, "An Extraordinary World". Gabi is part of the performance and has designed the costumes. As the performance happens, the gathered funds rise. At the end, Gabi and Tessa implore Saige to come out and bow with them, as she helped design the performance—they drag her out, and Dylan brings her a bouquet before she takes a bow with everyone.
The final tally at the end is $3992—well short of the goal. Saige then speaks up and asks to make a speech. She discusses that she has faced a lot of fears—including public speaking and performing—and says passionately how much art means to her and many others and that it gives them a voice. She receives a standing ovation, is complimented by family and friends, and the final push puts them over the donation goal, allowing an art program this year to much rejoicing.
As the hot air balloons go up later that day, Saige points out her design to her friends, who are all coming up with her. Her father loads them into the basket, and they rise up into the air among the other hot air balloons.
- In the books, Saige is aware that her school will not be having art for fourth grade, but forgot and is reminded by Tessa; budget cuts have resulted in cycling art and music recently, and last year was art. In the film, she doesn't find out until the first day when her teacher makes the announcement, as this is the first year they will not have both classes.
- In the film, Mimi trips over her dog Rembrandt while Saige is at her house and Saige runs to get Luis to help. In the books, she falls when nobody else is home and Saige only finds out after she gets home from school from Luis and Carmen.
- In the books, Gabi and Saige put on a show with Picasso as part of the festival, which is raising money for the art program in schools together. In the movie, a performance of "living art" is held at the festival, involving all four girls.
- In the books, Saige's leading the parade on Picasso is not as big of a deal to her, and she spends most of her time training him to do tricks with Gabi. In the film, Saige spends her time training to do the "parade gait" and the "scarf trick" riding on Picasso while dealing with her severe stage fright and social anxiety.
- In the film, Dylan is directly antagonist to all of Saige's plans and dismissive of her social anxiety and the art program as it doesn't interest her. Saige eventually becomes so fed up with Dylan that she yells at her, causing Tessa to walk off; this leads to her later snapping at Gabi, and must reconcile with each girl separately. In the books, this doesn't happen as Dylan is more of an acquaintance, and Saige's frustrations are more internal with the change of Dylan as Tessa's friend but there is no overt resentment. There is no falling out with Gabi.
- In the film, the after-school art class is definitively reinstated as a separate part of classes, but only after the money is raised at the performance. In the books, an after-school program is stated to be implemented soon after the Day of Beige after discussions with the administration, and art lessons are integrated into other subjects.
- In the books, Saige has the balloon ride with Mimi alone, though she invites her friends to her birthday party. In the film, Tessa, Gabi, and Dylan come in the balloon with her.
- There is no plot regarding the selling of Mimi's horse, Georgia.
- Saige is much more adverse to change, to the point that she has many "freak outs" about change. Her stage fright and performance anxiety is even more apparent in the film to the point of being severely crippling; she actually breaks down in tears several times because of it.
- In the film, Gabi is Latina and African-American (by virtue of her actress); in the books, she is described as having brown skin but is illustrated as light-skinned Latina. She is not shown to have the same love of dogs or animals that she does in the books. Instead, her focus is on art, including clothing design and anime-style art. Her family is not shown.
- Saige is cooler/more indifferent to Gabi at the start of the movie than at the start of the books; it takes a while for her to become friendly.
- Dylan is new to Saige instead of a known acquaintance. Her focus on music and stage performance is nearly to the exclusion of everything else. She is much more directly antagonistic and dismissive of Saige's ideas to the point they have a fight in school.
- Mimi is much more defeatist in the movie and doesn't want to try to walk or do art. In the books, she actively tries to get back on her feet.
- Carmen, Miss Fane, Agnes Fane, and Celeste are not seen or mentioned in the movie.
- Mimi does not have nearly as many animals; she only has Rembrandt, Picasso, and Georgia who is only seen once. Saige's family does not have a dog of their own. Mimi's cat, Stella, is also not in the movie.
- Mrs. Copeland has red hair in the books, she is a brunette in the movie.
Home Video Release
The movie was released on DVD and Blu-ray on July 2, 2013.
The movie aired on NBC on July 13, 2013.