Backstage Interview: Animated Feature Film

Q. Congratulations.  I’m from the Philippines.  Can you talk about your cooperation with Ronnie Del Carmen, especially as a reflection of the diverse work, of course, you have in Pixar, especially in the time where diversity is being talked about here?

A. (Jonas Rivera)  Ronnie should be up here, too.

A. (Pete Docter)  He should be, absolutely.

A. (Jonas Rivera)  He is an essential part of the movie.  He contributed so much to the emotion, the heart of the movie, and we are incredibly lucky to work with him.

A. (Pete Docter)  To this film and to UP, our last film.  I mean, Ronnie is one of the great visual storytellers in animation, and he comes proudly from the Philippines, as you know.  I don’t know ‑‑ first of all, I apologize, we are a little bit out of our heads.  I mean, you look at all the nominees tonight in animation, a lot of talk about diversity, you see this category films from around the world, from Japan and from Latin America and from good old California, and we are proud to be among that group.  I think animation leans that way.  Ronnie is a great artist that represents that.  We create stories, stories come from everywhere, and so someone like Ronnie really brings that to Pixar.  We are proud of him, and he is definitely sharing this with us.

Q. Hi.  We talked on the Red Carpet at the Golden Globes.  Congratulations.  I know you love to focus on the subjects dealing with the deep and difficult emotions in the movies, so I want to know why do you think it’s so important for the children to learn such lessons at an early age?

A. (Pete Docter)  I will say primarily what we were after was entertainment and fun, and then as we got in there we realized this has something very deep and applicable to every human being.  And the weird thing about emotions are they’re completely invisible to us most of the time.  We know we feel angry, but we don’t stop and really rationalize what’s driving all of that, and so this film has the potential to help people kind of unpack and think about some of these things that they don’t normally.  We have heard from a lot of folks, teachers, especially parents of special needs kids who have said this film has given them a new vocabulary to talk about emotions for the first time, and that is nothing we were aiming for, but it is such an amazing by‑product of the movie.  And we’re so thankful that we are able to contribute in that way.

Q. Congratulations.  Actually do you, Jonas, in this segment that has been viral about how Latinos are this Oscar, your name came up.  So how Latino do you feel?  What is your connection with Latin America?

A. (Jonas Rivera)  Well, my grandfather came over, was born in Juarez, Mexico.  Actually, his mother snuck him over to El Paso when he was born, and so, yeah, my house was like I LOVE LUCY when I was a kid.  My mom has blonde hair and my dad is Mexican heritage, and so to my family this means everything.  To have the name Rivera, I’m very proud of that.  I wish I could say that in Spanish, but of course, I grew up in an era where I didn’t learn Spanish, so I’m embarrassed for that.  But very proud of my family, of heritage, and of my Papa.

Q. Congratulations.  This film took years to make.  You wrote and wrote and rewrote and rewrote and redesigned for years before you ever even really got in principal production.  Can you share a little bit about the torturous path that you took to finally get this film onto the screen?

A. (Jonas Rivera)  That’s a good way to say it.

A. (Pete Docter)  It is.

A. (Jonas Rivera)  Except it’s not.  I mean, it is a torturous path in that it was a big hunk of life, and obviously the writer, you could speak to that, but we love our process and our team so much that in a weird way this is sort of a heartbreaker because it’s over.  This movie is finally done and we’re on to the next things at Pixar and we love it.  But, yes, it was a long road which you should to speak to.

A. (Pete Docter)  I mean I think that when you see a movie, you kind of feel like, well, of course, that’s what anger looks like or that’s how memory works, but there were many, many, many attempts to make that visual, to make it clear.  This movie, we talked to scientists who said, Possibly the most complex thing in the known universe is the human mind, and we are like, Oh, we just decided to make a movie about that.  How are we going to simplify this so that we understand it, for one, kids understand it, and even more difficult, executives understand it.  So we had to really make sure things were simple and clear, and I’m joking, of course.  We had amazing folks that collaborated with us at Disney and Pixar as well, but it was a long process of rewriting that took three and a half years.

A. (Jonas Rivera)  But we screened it for scientists and the people we worked with, and then we’d screen it for my kids, and we’d sort of aggregate those notes in a weird way just to see, like, is it sort of pleasing both parties.  That sounds strange, but that’s kind of what happened.

Q. We met at Cannes, remember?  It’s been quite a journey for you guys.  Can you please tell us what was the most memorable comment you got on the way to the Oscars or the most memorable criticism or the most memorable comment?

A. (Jonas Rivera)  Mine was ‑‑ I have to say mine was ‑‑ I’m a huge fan of NWA and Ice Cube, and we were lucky enough, this is so name droppy, but here we are, we were lucky enough to sit next to them, the STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON table at one of these things and I got to meet Ice Cube, and I introduced myself as a producer of INSIDE OUT not knowing what I’d get, and he said, Oh, man, that movie’s dope.  And I got to be honest with you, that was a pretty good moment for me.

Q. What about you?

A. (Pete Docter)  I think for me I’ve gotten a letter from a woman who said her daughter who had special needs was able to talk for the first time about how she felt thanks to this film, and that was amazing.

A. (Jonas Rivera)  That might be even more name droppy.

Q. I think you both talked about how your kids have inspired this film.  Can you recap how inspirational that was and have you had a chance to talk to them since you won?

A. (Pete Docter)  No, I haven’t.  So my daughter was ‑‑ when we first started the film, we came in with this idea ‑‑ I came in with this idea about using emotions as characters, and my daughter was about 11.  She was going through a big change at that point from goofy, little funny kid to being a little more serious, a little more kind of, you know, the way we all do, and I was thinking, whew, what’s going on inside of her head?  And that’s really what sparked the concept for the film.

Everyone ‑‑ Jonas has younger children, Ronnie Del Carmen has older kids ‑‑ everyone seemed to understand what we were talking about, and this is a very difficult time.  We went through it growing up.  And we tried to ‑‑ if I said anything up on the podium, I was trying to talk about the difficulty of growing up and how emotions are completely sometimes mysterious, and you cannot quite understand what’s going on.  So it was really that that drove the making of the film.

Sorry, I’m starting to blab, so shut me up.

A. (Jonas Rivera)  No, it’s good.  We love it.  I love it.  I’m very proud of it.

A. (Pete Docter)  You love it.  They probably want to go home.

A. (Jonas Rivera) It’s a reflection of our kids.  We’re very proud of it.  So thank you all for having us here tonight.

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