‘Onward’ Head of Story Kelsey Mann on Building an Original Fantasy World and Making the Emotional Beats Work [Interview]
Posted on Tuesday, March 10th, 2020 by Steven Prokopy
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.