"Inside Out" directors give inside-out scoops
Writer: Erny Suzira
Pete Docter (Left) and Ronnie del Carmen pose with "Inside Out" plushies; Joy and Sadness.
Pixar has done it again with the addition of their new 3D animated film "Inside Out" which comes from the creative minds of Pete Docter and Ronnie del Carmen.
Pete and Ronnie have been part of many award-winning Pixar films, but the films where both of them have actually worked together on include "WALL-E", "Up", "Monsters University" and the latest one – "Inside Out"!
Ultimately, the two of them managed to uphold the box office record of Pixar films, as "Inside Out" had gotten the highest opening for an original title in its first weekend, beating the previous record set by "Avatar".
Just last week, the two directors from "Inside Out" made a special visit to Malaysia for their Filmmakers SEA Tour with Malaysia as their first stop.
With that, Cinema Online got to have one-on-one exclusive interviews with the two creative men and here is what they have got to say about the movie.
Pete Docter – Director
The movie now holds the record for the highest opening for an original title when it opened in the U.S., what are your expectations for the movie in Asia?
Well I don't know if I have any expectations, but I do hope that it'll appeal to everybody because one thing that surprised me when we did a little research on the subject matter, that being - emotion is universal.
One of our experts found a remote tribe in Papua New Guinea that never had any outside contact with anybody, and they have the same facial expressions and the same emotions as we do too.
This film has the potential of being very universal and appeals to everybody even though it takes place in western California. But I believe that it is a universal subject matter.
Pete and Ronnie making faces.
How many emotions did you initially have before narrowing them down to the five in the film, and why did you choose those five? The basic universal emotions that humans have are seven.
Depending on which scientist you talk to, you get different answers. There's no universal consensus, everybody here agrees that we have seven, but some people say four. There was this one guy who said that we have 27 different emotions too!
So we made a big list and we started to draw different characters and thinking what would be fun to see. We did a lot of scientific research but ultimately, this is entertainment, so it's supposed to be fun and funny. So what characters are going to be the most fun?
And we ended up with these five because five seems like a good group for you to have good fights and arguments with, but also enough to cover pretty much what we needed for the emotional aspects in Riley.
What's interesting is, Paul Ackman – the guy we consulted – said "We just did a study with 270 scientists around the world, and over 70 percent of them agree on five emotions, which are; Anger, Fear, Sadness, Disgust and Joy." And I think that that is pretty cool.
The five emotions from "Inside Out". (L-R) Anger, Disgust, Joy, Fear and Sadness.
If you were to add another emotion to the team, what would it be?
We did try and play with Pride as an emotion, which is kind of fun. He would walk around with his head high in the air and go, "Hello everyone, please hold your applause, thank you!"
He was fun to write for and he would have dialogues like, "Riley is a genius, she should be a president," and then the other would go, "But, she's only eleven!" And then he would say, "That doesn't matter, Riley is a genius!"
So that's how he is, but actually, those are the kind of stuff that we want to give to Joy too. So we took him out and gave those attributes to Joy as a character. So Joy actually inhibits more than strictly happiness, she also has hopes and pride.
We also had one called schadenfreude, which is taking joy in other people's pain. Like when people hurt themselves, he would smirk and smile sneakily. So, he would seem like a fun character too, but ultimately, five seemed like a good group.
Were the characters of "Inside Out" inspired by any stars from Hollywood during the pre-production stage?
A lot of times we would make a list for characters just so we could get a handle on who they are, and being able to talk to each other about them.
Joy is like a mix of Audrey Hepburn, Bugs Bunny and Audrey Tatou from "Amelie". So they are like a combination of things. Obviously we cannot cast any of those people, I guess we could've cast Audrey Tatou but it's more of a point of departure so that we are all kind of talking about the same thing and what kind of person they are.
We don't generally talk about voice casting until quite a bit later, which is typical because all of the characters were designed and built on computers first, until we get to assign the voice cast.
The voice cast from "Inside Out"; Bill Hader as Fear, Mindy Kaling as Disgust,
Amy Poehler as Joy, Phyllis Smith as Sadness and Lewis Black as Anger.
How does the idea of the core memories come about?
What's interesting about that is – I thought we were just making that up. We talk to each other about it like; there are basically between five to seven things that form us – making us who we are. For example; an event that happened when you were young that causes you to go to where you are today. Some scientists asked us about this, and we were like, "We were just making it up," and then they're like, "Oh no, this is actually in the literature, this idea that we define ourselves by us." Then again, he said between five and seven different events. So apparently, it is kind of how we tell our own stories. Obviously, our own lives are very complex, but I think in an effort to make clear who we are and how we feel about ourselves, certain stories become very important, so that is sort of what we're grabbing on to.
So, this is not the first time a movie has characterised emotions. Previously, there was a sitcom titled "Herman's Head" and movie buffs been comparing this movie with the sitcom. What do you have to say about this?
Well, this is no excuse, but I have actually never seen "Herman's Head". The thing that we reference early on that I think people could accuse "Herman's Head" of copying, was a Disney film from 1940s called "Reason and Emotion". The movie was out quite a number of years before "Herman's Head" and they had the same idea.
Obviously, there have been tons of similar thoughts in literature and books, so there are no real new ideas in the world. It's just how you put them together and in what way you shape them. Unlike "Herman's Head", we're talking about growing up in the difficulty of what it is to become someone else, how hard it is to grow up and the emotions where you can't just be happy throughout your whole life. I don't think any of these themes – to my knowledge – were used in the sitcom.
"Herman's Head" is a sitcom from the 90s about a man named Herman with
four personified psyches living in an attic which represents his mind.
Ronnie del Carmen – Co-Director
I noticed that Sadness is designed as short, fat and ugly while Joy is thin, tall and pretty. Are you saying that fat people tend to be sad?
No, we've gotten that question before and as a matter of fact I'm not even trying to dodge it. We designed each of the character based on certain shapes. Joy was designed to be a star because she's the centre of the attention in headquarters. Sadness was designed to an inverted teardrop. It has to be upside down because if it's the actual shape of tear drop, her head would be too small.
In fact, I don't find her ugly at all; I think she is kind of cute and very adorable. She's cuddly and makes you want to hug her. Contradicts to her being sadness because sad is something you don't want. But we made her look cuddly and adorable so that you'd want to embrace her.
Anger is shaped after a firebrick, Fear is a raw nerve
and Disgust takes after the shape of a broccoli.
Pete and Ronnie during the "Inside Out" press conference.
Another thing I noticed is that a different emotions dominate different people, like Anger is the one in control of the dad's mind, Sadness is in charge of the mom's and Joy is the one controlling Riley. Does this mean that mom tends to be sad a lot?
I love this question a lot, but no. Because of the research that we had, the emotions have these higher versions and the lower versions of themselves. For example, Anger has rage and courage while Sadness; there is melancholy or gloom and also empathy. It comes from that same emotion. Mom is empathetic and nurturing, that's why they always wonder and ask their kids "Are you okay, Honey? Are you hurt? Is everything fine?"
That's what it is, not because they're sad, because all of us have those aspects. Dad is very courageous for having his family moving from Minnesota to San Francisco because he has an adventurous spirit, so he's going to face the challenge. Not because he's angry all the time. So that's what we understand from the research.
With so many ideas that didn't get to fit in the movie, do you think there will be a sequel to this?
That's always kind of enticing because we have a lot of experience making these movies that we are no better at telling the story. Most of us are just so happy to be part of this movie, because it is the hardest movie that we had ever made. Our experience as the storytellers and even the studio is that we just want the world to embrace our character and kind of embrace them and grow up with them.
We know that we have a lot of stories that we have told just trying to make this one movie. So, whether a sequel happens or not depends on a lot of things. It depends on the studio, on Pete and also on who wants to come up with a new way of telling the story. But it's never quite built-in for Pixar or Disney that we make sequels, it usually is a confluence of many things. So, there is no plan yet. But if we're lucky, the DVDs might have something extra.
Cinema Online, 11 August 2015
Watch the video of the "Inside Out" gala premiere in Malaysia with Pete Docter and Ronnie del Carmen!