In their latest feature, Inside Out, Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera may have become household names. Perhaps, their names don’t register with you, but their movies certainly do.
Fun Fact: Pete Docter was the 10th employee hired at Pixar Animation Studios; the third animator. He began there the day after his college graduation at the age of 21.
Pete Docter, the self-described, “Geeky kid from Minnesota who likes to draw cartoons“, directed Monsters Inc, Up and has been nominated for SIX Oscars, three Annie Awards and a BAFTA Children’s Film Award. He was one of the three key screen writers behind the concept of Toy Story.
Fun Fact: Pete Docter partially based the character of Buzz Lightyear on himself.
Jonas Rivera, joined Pixar the last year of making Toy Story (1994). Since then, he’s worked on almost every Pixar film as a manager or coordinator. He received an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture for UP. He is the producer of Inside Out.
Disney Pixar’s Inside Out is available for home entertainment on on Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere NOW and arrives on Blu-ray Combo Pack November 3rd!
Both Rivera and Docter recognize the impact Inside Out has had on its viewers. As we gather in a room at the historic Fairmont on Nob Hill in San Francisco, Rivera shares that his 4-year-old daughter Ava dressed herself this morning, sporting one Joy sock and one Fear sock. I said, “You have to—and she’s like, ‘No, because I have Fear and Joy today.’ She made a decision as she was getting dressed. It’s funny, but it’s like, “Wow, she’s thinking about that”.”
Perhaps there was foresight into the impact this film would have long before it was viewed by an audience. As you know Pixar does research for every film. Inside Out led film makers to psychologists and neuroscience professionals as the researched how the mind words. One of those individuals was a professor of psychology who said the movie would help children understand their feelings. Docter shared, “We’re just trying to make a funny film; let’s not put too much expectation on it.” Once the movie was released, audiences have shared how they related to and used the film, especially with those on the spectrum. It was touching to hear them share the story of a family, with a child who laid all the emotions on a table and their Autistic child could come and pick the one that he was feeling. The movie has paved away for this child, and others to express their emotions.
“It’s a pretty cool reward. A cherry on top of the whole thing that it has done that.” -Jonas Rivera
Probably one of the most asked questions this dynamic duo receive is which Emotion character most resonates with each of them. Docter, in his enthusiastic voice replied, “It really depends on the day! Some days, Fear for sure. Most of the time, Joy. Once in a while Anger. ”
The same Emotion Character resonates with Rivera, “Joy. I have one of the greatest jobs in the world. Every now and then I pinch myself. What I love about Joy, and this is personal, Joy is someone that is always positive but she’s always looking backwards a little bit. She’s very much into her memories and I guess she’s a nostalgist. I’m a little bit that way, too.“
One of the highlights of the interview was listening to Docter and Rivera discuss how the idea of Inside Out came to be:
Rivera: “We worked on UP together and when we were done, we put our heads together and said, ‘Can you imagine a world where there’s more adventures?’. We get fired up when something is completely new. It was that conversation that led to Inside Out.”
Docter: “The first concept. The first pitch was a control room. I thought of it a little bit like a spaceship, but we ultimately moved away from that because we wanted to do something people haven’t seen before. It became “Headquarters”. We made a big list of places we could go from the mind’s headquarters. Some ended up in the movie…some, like ‘Stream of Consciousness, Brainwashing, plays on words like that, did not.”
From there, Rivera explained, “It was fun thinking about the geography of the mind and how we might make that. We’re big fans of Disneyland and I remember even when we pitched to John Lasseter for the first time, above the monitor, there’s a 1959 framed map of Disneyland that I put up in our War Room. I couldn’t help but think, “it’s kind of like that. Different regions–and there’s a train.”
Bing Bong is a character that everyone loves and Docter gave us some insight to his character:
“Bing Bong kind of evolves. From the beginning we thought we were talking about growin up, in essence kind of identifykng a little more with Riley. We quickly realized, this is told from a parent’s point of view. It’s our struggle to let go of our kids because we want them to stay little. Stay in our arms and as the get older, they grow up, and that’s uncomfortable and difficult. So when Bing Bong developed as a representation of that, that childhood joy, it was really exciting.”
“He’s just fund to write for because you never know what he’s going to do. He’s kind of off-the-wall. Richard Kind plays him so brilliantly. Bing Bong really represents the them of the film.”
In early production, Bing Bong had friends, Docter and Rivera reveal. There was a “Miss Scribbles, who is a drawing that Riley did a lot when she was three. We had the sun–remember when you were a kid and you drew the sun as a corner, then he becomes a pie slice?”
One of the struggles in the film was the lay-out. Docter looks around the room to make sure production designer Ralph Edelson, isn’t anywhere to hear this, “every time we changed the story, the entire universe would change inside. We had initially the whole layout with the headquarters on top and that descended into kind of spiral layer of cake, down to the subconscious to get a memory. That didn’t really work, so we tried pillars rising up from the fog. We tried things hanging from biosphere domes; all sorts of things until we basically realized what was really at stake in this film is Riley’s personality. That’s the thing, that we as parents, value. We don’t want our kids to change because we love who they are. So? We needed some way to physicalize that. That’s where the islands came in. Even the islands were a challenge. If you have Riley hang up on her friend, that island needs to shift, so it was very back-and-forth. The story and the environment were so connected that it was frustratingly fluid for production.”
Docter and Rivera have a great banter between them. One idea feeds off another and they just go with it. It was mesmerizing watching them and hearing them talk about the success of Inside Out.
The two shared that there is no talks or plans for a sequel. They’re wrapping up The Good Dinosaur and then focusing on Finding Dory!
I have no doubt that we’ll be seeing more of the Docter/Rivera team and be amazed at their creativity and inspiration through their magnificent story telling.
Don’t miss your chance to see Disney-Pixar’s Inside Out now on Disney Movies Anywhere and bring home the blockbuster movie on Blu-ray Combo Pack November 3rd!