Last month, Pixar released the first plot details for their upcoming animated feature Inside Out, which centers on an all-star voice cast portraying the emotions inside an 11-year-old girl named Riley Anderson, such as Joy (Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith). Director Pete Docter shed even more light on the story during an hour-long presentation at the Annency International Film Festival in France yesterday, which he described as the most high-concept idea ever to come out of the hallowed halls of Pixar.
The filmmaker screened the first five minutes of the movie, most of which was still in animatic form, which introduces viewers to Riley as a baby, along with all of her emotions, which all live inside her brain at a base known as Headquarters. The emotions all watch as Riley gets her first memory, which they can bring up on a projection at Headquarters. The opening scenes also show Riley begin to grow up, and how the emotions all cope with those changes, ending with an encounter where Joy can't seem to comprehend why Sadness is needed.
As we saw in the first photo from August, each emotion has a different color. These characters are trying to help Riley process new memories, each coded with the emotion's corresponding color, which are filed away every night and erased in Long Term Storage by the Forgetters, who are described as having similarities to the Minions from Despicable Me. Pete Docter also explained that Riley and her parents relocate from a "quite rural home" to San Francisco at an impressionable age, which forces Joy and Sadness out of the "control panel" to explore unexplored areas of her mind.
Another scene was shown where Fear, Anger and Disgust try to keep everything under control during a family dinner, while Joy and Sadness take a tour through Riley's thinking process, where they discover areas such as Imagination Land, described by the director as, "a giant amusement park full of everything Riley has ever daydreamed about," a movie studio where nightmares are made, the Train of Thought, which can dart off in any direction at a moment's notice, and a zone known as Abstract Thought, which Pete Docter said he had the most fun translating to the screen.
After the presentation, the director explained that he approached the idea from a poetic standpoint, not a scientific perspective.
"I was pretty certain someone must have done an idea like this before. We're approaching it from a poetic viewpoint. It's not even trying to be scientific at all."
The director explained that Inside Out is based on his experiences in watching his young daughter grow up, and how he noticed that when she turned 12 years old, her "childhood joy" began to disappear.
"It's based on a strong emotional experience I had watching my daughter grow up. There is something that is lost when you grow up - and the film became a way to explore that change on an emotional level."
He added that one of the big challenges was to make sure audiences will be able to understand what is happening with all of the emotions.
"One of the big things in this film has been simplifying and making things 'gettable.'"
The movie has already went through internal test screenings at Pixar. Pete Docter shared a story from an early screening where a young boy learned to overcome his fear as a result of watching Inside Out.
"One family came and watched the movie. The son had always had trouble going off the diving board, and that day, he dove off, and he said, 'I just felt like Fear was driving, and I needed to make him step aside.'"
The filmmaker added that the process of making this movie has changed the way he looks at his own emotions.
"There's this whole system that's basically designed to operate in your subconscious. All of the impulses that control your decisions, actions, stuff like that is out of your control, which is not the way I like to think of myself at all."
He added that the movie is told from a parent's point of view, although he initially thought he was making a movie about his young daughter.
"I thought I was making a film about my daughter, but the truth is, I'm more making a film about myself in relation to my daughter and understanding that. The film is told from a parent's point of view, and being a parent, I just sort of slipped into that, I guess. It's definitely made me think again about the way I grew up, my adolescence, and even on a day-to-day basis what I'm doing and why."