If you thought I was insufferable talking about my visit to Skywalker Ranch in January, just wait until I start telling you about Pixar.
I have often (metaphorically) knelt and worshipped at the altar of the animation gods (little g) at Pixar. Ever since I attended my first animation festival back when I was in design school (in the 80's) and was amazed by John Lasseter's Tin Toy, I have been in love and in awe.
When I received the invitation to actually visit the Pixar campus in Emeryville, I was completely beside myself. This was an item on my Bucket List that I hadn't actually ever added to my Bucket List because it was such a far fetched concept.
It was more of a "If I could, one day I would love to visit Pixar."
Ta-da! (Somebody pinch me.)
The occasion was an invitation from Disney/Pixar to visit their campus, watch a portion of their upcoming animated feature, Inside Out and the newest short, Lava. We also got to interview director Pete Docter and producer Jonas Rivera.
The fun began immediately upon our arrival. (Yes, I'm saving my badge forever. Why do you ask?)
Greeting us as we walked up to the main building was Luxo Jr. the iconic desk lamp that happily dances and bounces its way across the screen before each Pixar film.
Full disclosure: I tried doing the jumping up and down photo. It was not pretty. You'll just have to trust me on this.
Luxo Jr. stands in front of the Steve Jobs Building. I seriously stopped in my tracks and had a moment of silence. I was about to enter the heart of Pixar. Pixar! (Hold me.)
As you enter those hallowed doors you are greeted by some familiar old friends.
Everywhere you look there are the beloved life-size Pixar characters.
Imagine a group of 25 we-must-document-everything bloggers let loose in this space.
The award cases were full of Oscars and Golden Globes and People's Choice awards. Duh. Of course. This is Pixar, remember?
As I stood there, looking back to the entrance, I had a take-a-deep-breath-I'm-really-here-at-Pixar-somebody-pinch-me moment. I was truly feeling all the "feels."
Excitement. Joy. Nervousness. Fear. Anticipation. Awe. This-is-not-my-real-life amazement.
We were treated to a preview of the first 20 minutes or so of the new animated feature, Inside Out and then interviewed director Pete Docter and producer Jonas Rivera.
Inside Out was inspired by Pete Docter’s daughter, Ellie, who was an outgoing kid until she got to the age of about 11 and then things changed a bit and it became more difficult for him to understand what she was thinking.
"That was really the origins of this film, is trying to figure out what's going on inside her head, you know?"
Pete and Jonas used the ideas of emotions as their main characters. With the focus on emotions, they did tons of serious research by talking to psychologists and neurologists to get a deeper understanding of how and why we think and feel. It seems funny to me to go through this process for an animated film, but there's the beauty and genius of Disney/Pixar.
According to Pete, “a lot of that research has shown up in the film, and then of course we made some stuff up too, ‘cause it’s supposed to be fun to watch.”
Jonas Rivera (producer) shared with us that “It was really that idea to personify the emotions. Like wouldn’t that be fun to do. I think when we pitched it to Disney and to John Lasseter, we talked about like our version of the Seven Dwarfs. You can really do something in animation, you only do it in animation, really get these characters and do something really unique, specific and fun. And it just really appealed to us.
We obviously love animated movies. We talk about the classic Disney animated movies a lot. Like what was it about those movies that lasted forever? Why do we still talk about Lady and the Tramp and Dumbo, and these movies that we grew up with? And they’re all very emotional. And, and so we thought, well what if we like movies that are emotional, what if we made one about emotions?”
And so they did.
It's not just because I got to see a portion of the film that I'm already looking forward to it. (Okay. Maybe it is, a little.)
But it's Pixar. And after interviewing these guys I could feel how much joy and devotion they invested in this project. I also loved how cognizant they were of the Disney legacy.
And because Pixar does not disappoint I can almost guarantee Inside Out will be a must-see summer movie.
Inside Out opens in theaters everywhere on June 19th.