Onward Head of Story Interview

The newest film from Pixar Studios, Onward, begins with a look back in history—not our history, but the history of a fantasy world where all manner of mermaids, unicorns, elves, fairies, minotaurs, wizards, and just about any other creature you might find in a role-playing game would exist. But as these fantasy beings find shortcuts to doing magic—Why use your wings to fly when you can board an airplane? Why use a spell to start a fire when you can use matches?—they become lazy, and the magic that made them special starts to disappear from the world at large.

Head of Story for Onward is Kelsey Mann (I’ll let him explain exactly what that job entails), who worked as Story Supervisor (alongside Onward director Dan Scanlon) on Monsters University. He also has a story credit on 2015’s The Good Dinosaur. /Film sat down with Mann in Chicago during recently to discuss that moment in any Pixar production process where the story team literally starts with a blank page, the joy of creating and destroying one’s own fantasy world, and the practical considerations of having a pair of legs be one of your main characters. Onward is now playing nationwide.

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Making of Onward

This Spring brings the release of Pixar Animation’s Onward, a modern fantasy adventure about Ian and Barley (Tom Holland and Chris Pratt) two teenage elf brothers who magically get the opportunity to spend just 24 hours with their late father, thanks to a magic spell, a wizard’s staff, and a special stone. But when the spell to bring their father back for a day goes slightly wrong, they’re quickly thrust into a race against time to find a bit more of the magic that used to make their world so special, all so they can get just a little more time with their dad.

Last Fall, /Film visited the campus of Pixar Animation of Emeryville, California to learn more about Onward, starting with how the story for this fantasy adventure first came together. As with all animated movies, the journey began years before, but this one stretched even further back, all the way to the Fall of 2013. And as with all stories, it started with a completely blank slate before becoming something touching, personal and magical. Read More »