As we gear up for Monsters University (can June 21 come soon enough?), we are counting down the days around here. The kids love a Disney animated film!
When we visited the Pixar campus last month, we got a chance interviewed Kori Rae, producer of Disney Pixar’s Monsters University. We got some insight about the making of the film, a look at the challenges and the Pixar process. Rae sat down at the round table, upstairs in the creative area of the Steve Jobs building, full of intimidating faces (fear the blogger, grrr) who all wanted to know what it was like to create such an amazing animated film. Oh, the suspense!
As questions flew, Rae was very passionate about the film. Having roles in Pixar greats, such as Toy Story, A Bug’s Life and Monsters Inc, she was no newbie to the process.
On what took so long to revisit the Monsters Inc. film:
I think it was more how much we love the movie. Maybe not even the success of it, but how much we loved that world of Monsters, and we loved those characters so much that I think it was, you know, after the dust settled, I think Pete had always thought about revisiting.
On creating a prequel versus a sequel:
It was decided pretty early on, when Pete and John, Dan, and Andrew Stanton all got together when Pete started wanted to, to throw out some ideas for another film in the Monsters, Inc. franchise. There was, like, a two or three day offsite with them, and they were just bantering about ideas, and in that, at that off site, the idea of a prequel, and mostly just meeting Mike and Sully before Monsters, Inc. and kind of getting to know them, and how did they end up becoming who they were. So that idea was kind of born at that time. It was kind of a… Let’s, let’s go backwards, then they just thought the college setting would be fantastic.
On Rae’s personal favorite character:
I love them all. No, you know who I do really love, Dean Hardscrabble. As a character, and as a character design, and I just love that she’s, you know, this, this strong, powerful, character, and that Sully and Mike cause her to shift a little bit, her way of thinking.
On how Pixar is consistently able to produce high quality films:
I think it’s personnel. I think we, we do have incredibly talented people here. John Lassiter, you know, kind of brought in Andrew and Pete to begin with, and, and have, has, have continued to bring in really talented people. But, I do think it’s also a lot about the process, and the fact that we are willing, the directors and the filmmakers, are willing to put something out, have it torn down completely, go back to the drawing board, put it back up, have it torn down, and it’s that’s the thing you have to be willing to do.
On the challenge of animating a ton of characters for a college campus:
So we knew being set on a college campus, we knew that we were gonna need a ton of characters for this film. So one of the first things we did in production was we started with the background characters before even a lot of the primary characters were designed. We started creating, designing, and making the background characters. Animating a shot with seven primary characters, when it’s the misfits of Mike and Sully, it’s the whole group. Then you have background characters behind them. It’s incredibly challenging, scene after scene, to have that many characters in all the shots. Animation-wise, it took us a little bit longer, and was a little more challenging than we anticipated.
More fun facts:
- There were 260-270 crew members working on the film at it’s peak.
- There are literally hundreds of background characters, designing them was one of the first things they did.
- All of the voices are recorded before animation starts. They use the voices to animate to.
- Kori Rae taught 8th grade English and coached volleyball, softball and basketball before heading to Pixar.
- It was challenge to make a film backwards, the prequel, when people already know how it ends (how to make it interesting, surprising and enough for an audience to sit through).
Be sure to check out Monsters University, in theaters June 21st! Don’t miss out, visit the official site and also MonstersUniversity.com for more details about the movie. You can also like the Monsters University Facebook page to enroll and get fun updates!
Disclosure: I am attending all events on behalf of Disney. Everything I share is all mine.