Animated Emotions: A Pixar Presentation

Posted May 4, 2015 in
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Inside Out
Director Pete Docter and Producer Jonas Rivera of Pixar provided an audience at the UMFA witha a sneak preview of Pixar’s upcoming film Inside Out. Photo: Brent Rowland
The Black Friday-esque line of people flooded into the auditorium. They quickly sought out the free seating—rushing with frantic anticipation. The crowd was excited to hear Director Pete Docter and Producer Jonas Rivera of Pixar and to have a sneak peak of their upcoming film. They were set to speak at the UMFA about their upcoming film Inside Out and all of the broad and fine-point issues pertaining to the creative process of animated filmmaking.
They began with brief synopsis of their lives. Docter explained that he was someone who was constantly a step behind social cues and norms. He talked about being one of the Pixar founders and the steps animation has taken since A Computer Animated Hand by Edwin Catmull and Fred Parke. As he told his story and explained the history of animation and Pixar, he spoke in an informal, friendly manner. His informality allowed for him to flow easily and lightly through his presentation. Docter emphasized the arduous work of directing Monsters Inc. and UP, including all the steps it takes to get from a simple concept to a major motion picture.
Jonas Rivera began his section of the presentation once Docter had finished. He began with his history at Pixar—which began 20 years ago as an office/production intern. Rivera found his passion—production—and was able to quickly move up the Pixar ladder. Rivera then talked about the processes of a producer—the allocation of funds, people and events for the film to be a success. He said that, even though the director has a creative function in micro aspects of a film, the producer does a lot in the creative macro aspect. Rivera spoke with a personal and informal tone that allowed us to feel comfortable and relaxed—sharing information freely without overwhelming his audience.
After they spoke about the processes of filmmaking, they turned their attention to Inside Out. Docter explained that his inspiration for the film came from his now 11-year-old daughter. “She used to be a carefree child, full of joy,” says Docter. “Now she’s becoming ‘self aware’ and ‘older.’” The image on the screen displayed a small body curled up against the chair, her back to the camera. “This made me think of what is going on inside her head,” said Docter. This fascination and wonder led him to create the concept of his movie—which focuses on a group of emotions inside an 11-year-old girl’s head. They gathered information about emotions from consultations with many psychoanalysts and behavioral therapists, settling on anger (Lewis Black), disgust (Mindy Kaling), joy (Amy Poehler), sadness (Phyllis Smith) and fear (Bill Hader) to feature in their movie. Each of these emotions controlled an aspect of the “headquarters”—responsible for a human’s navigation through the world. These emotions affect the memories that fill her brain and the key memories that make up her personality.
They screened a clip of the beginning seven minutes of the movie. Inside Out’s intro followed the common Pixar beginning sequence, full of subject matter yet transitioning in such a way that the story seamlessly flows and is easily understood. The clip depicted the girl slowly growing up, acquiring emotionally-driven memories, which formed her personality and the constant battle between emotions to keep her safe and happy. These ideas created reminiscent laughter and a feeling of heartfelt and serene happiness as the complex ideas were equated to each individual journey of personal emotion evolution. The movies’ fun and light humor will be obvious and goofy for younger viewers, yet the undertones of real-life situations and subtle adult humor will allow this movie to be enjoyable for a wide audience.
The event ended and a Q & A segment began. Docter and Rivera stayed past their allotted time and thoughtfully and patiently answered questions. The comfortability and impersonality that they began with allowed for hands to freely rise into the air. Their openness about their “dorkier” side and being a “step behind” social cues set the stage for more comfortable questions both personal and professional. A young man in the back asked the duo about the subject of gender, sexuality and race within their film. He expounded on his thoughts, saying he was mainly interested in their understanding and depiction of issues that pertain to homosexual, transgender and intersex issues. Docter and Rivera explained that they do not have an agenda when it comes any issues. They mainly focused on what they understood and how it fit into the world they lived in. “The whole concept of Inside Out revolves around my daughter,” says Docter. “I wanted to understand what was going on in her head.” Docter concluded by saying that all he wants to do is to create from what he understands, not push a belief he believes to be true.
Inside Out is set to be released on June 19.