INSIDE OUT – Concept Art featuring JOY and SADNESS by Tony Fucile (Story Artist). ©2015 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Can you talk about the fact that, while Joy guides Riley, the mom seems to be guided by Sadness? (And the father is guided by Anger.)

[very slight possible spoilers follow in this paragraph]

Pete Docter: We wanted to make a straight point for Joy that her time is limited. This was stronger in an earlier version when that scene was first written.  That Joy is looking down the barrel of [realizing] she’s only going to be running things for a small amount of time. She’s like “I’m not going to let that happen.”  So we wanted to kind of really showcase that to the audience as well, that Joy is not running the dad or mom, it’s one of these other characters. We weren’t trying to say anything sort of blanket about men or women at all, it was just… you have a temperament – everybody has a temperament. Though they might be happy [for a while] they’ll go back to being sort of sullen, to their general sullen temperament. Or angry.  I mean Louis Black, man, he would – we would be recording and he would kind of get tired and then he would go on a rant about the megamall in Minnesota and he’d be like [ANGRY SOUNDS] Alright, I’m back!  It was almost a healing, relaxing thing for him to be angry. He enjoyed it.

There’s also a balance, with the two parents work together and complement each other.

Pete Docter: That was based on just the way we feel about ourselves.  It does seem like, as kids, you’re like more Wild West-style, and more pure [in your emotions].  And as adults there’s nuance, kind of complex things and there’s more of that to come in the later part of the film.

Jonas Rivera: Yeah.  Everything as a kid is almost an emergency.  The food’s coming in like everything is TEN.  By the time you’re older it’s coffee, it’s “eh, whatever…”

Pete Docter: I was just going to mention, too, that it was really a gag thing to have them all wearing mustaches or the glasses just so we would recognize who they are and what they are.  But that also kind of seems truthful that at the beginning you’re really wild all over the map and then you become kind of more a single person.

Jonas Rivera: You calcify into who you are.

You have a very collaborative workplace here, with people who are incredibly smart. Do you feel like you have to be the smartest people in the room?

Jonas Rivera: First of all, Pete, I want to hear your answer, but we never even attempt to try to be the smartest people, because you’re working with all these computer scientists and artists.  You can’t out-talk [production designer] Ralph Eggleston about movies or animation.  Everyone is going to know more than we do.  Pete does a great job of not telling the lighting technicians how to do something, or what to do, but why he’s after something.  I’ve observed him doing that, which I think is really effective, the technical people step up to that.

Pete Docter: I think that’s a good key to leadership that we both do is to not try to have all the answers ourselves but to recognize who will and when to bring whoever it is in.  It’s almost like a casting thing of like, you know if we got this person and that person I bet we could solve this pretty quick.

You seem drawn to emotional complexity in stories. 

Pete Docter: I think it’s just kind of a gut thing.  I haven’t really analyzed it, but I know the things that even as I look at other films that I love they’re usually not films with tons of explosions and special effects, they’re just simple films with great relationships.  Like Paper Moon, I *love* Paper Moon.  It’s just one of the best films. Or The Station Agent. Films where kind of nothing really happens but you watch these characters grow and change and affect each other in deep ways and that’s meaningful, I think, to me.  If a film with lots of explosions have that then I’m in, but if it doesn’t I’m kind of like eh… – I think it has to have some sort of relationship in there and emotional complexity.

For this movie I felt like the concept from the get-go was intriguing because of two things.  One, the emotions as characters I was like, “this is right what we do in animation.  We can write for these guys in ways that we could never get away with in live action.” And then the world that we were going into I was like “oh my gosh if we can go see the train of thought and watch brainwashing” and some of these things that didn’t end up in the film, I’m in just for the sort of high concept of it.  And then, of course, the next step was developing a deeper bed of what is it we’re talking about here, what is this movie really about?  And that comes slowly over the course of four years.

Jonas Rivera: I think it’s also how we think about animation, too.  Paper Moon and those movies that we love and you mentioned a bunch, but we also love this medium and respect.. I don’t know if “respect” is the right word, because it implies that others don’t. Strangely, before going to film school the two films I saw that launched me into this were Pulp Fiction and The Little Mermaid.  And I almost don’t even think of them that much different.  In fact I kind of thought if you put those two in a blender you’d get Pixar.  But they’re just movies to us.  They happen to be animated and they have dramatic elements and things you’d see in these movies with families and we love that.

Continue Reading Inside Out: The Journey to Understand Sadness >>

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