There’s a fun new clip of the film Monsters University, set to be out in theaters June 21st! Check it out, watch Mike and Sulley get initiated into the Oozma Kappa fraternity!
When I attended freshman orientation for MU at the DisneyPixar headquarters, I got a chance to do a round table interview with Dan Scanlon, the director of Monsters University. He was generally excited about the movie and loved chatting with us! He spoke much about the creative aspects of the process, including overcoming various challenges with the story line, making the film relatable on a personal level and touched on the creativity with the marketing efforts for the film.
On the challenge of making the story work from things in the first film, Monsters Inc:
In the first film, Mike and Sulley actually say… “you’ve been jealous of my good looks since the fourth grade.” So it’s a thing that a lot of people have brought up, and we certainly noticed it right away when we started developing the idea. We did several versions of the film where we actually showed the guys meeting when they were younger, and one of the things that ended up happening is we ended up realizing that, in order to service that particular line, we were hurting the story that we wanted to tell, which was the story of how these guys met, and how they became friends. It became clear that in order to respect that line, we would had to have made Monsters Elementary, which was not a story we wanted to tell.
On the fear factor: deciding how much is too much:
I think initially we always sort of make these movies for ourselves, and our own families in mind as the gauge. But then we do test screenings and things to kind of get a feeling of that type of stuff. It is a tricky movie when you’re dealing with the issue of fear. The good thing is, the kids are still with the monsters. The monsters are still these sort of fun characters. And even when there’s intimidating monsters, I think you’re still kind of with your main characters. It is always a tough line. You want to make sure that there’s a story that’s, you know, a fear as we remember from being kids ourselves. It’s thrilling, too. It’s those great characters in films we remember from our childhood.
On Scanlon’s personal connections with the college story line:
I feel like when I was in school, I was probably more like Mike. I mean, I was pretty focused on trying to get good grades, and, or, more like squishy where I just didn’t really have a lot of friends and, for a while. I didn’t have a lot of, like, wild, crazy college stuff going on. I saw plenty of it, but I guess I feel like that’s what I connect with with the movie is more on an emotional level. That feeling of showing up at an art school, and realizing that, though your mom puts your drawings on the refrigerator, you’re actually not the greatest artist in the world, is, it’s horrifying. And it’s humbling, and I think that people have that experience a lot. And that part of it, that idea of Mike being up against that was what I felt would be the heart of the story, and what I felt connected to me personally is boy, what do we do when things don’t work out inevitably? It’s so wonderful that we tell people you can be anything you want if you never give up.
On coming up with “monsterized” fraternity and sorority names:
It was actually really weirdly hard. We wanted them to be monsterized, but we also wanted, as you guys will notice, is you see the names of all the other ones. I don’t know if you saw any of that, but you all, you know, eek and roar, and we just knew we wanted all those to sound really scary, and then their’s to sound sort of small, and to be this little extra badge of frustration for them. But it was fun to just come up with names that also described the fraternities and sororities, you tend to get into kind of a clique. And so we wanted them to describe the type of group that they were.
On why Pixar decided to market the story so creatively with a college theme:
That was really one of our story artists. She at one point just pitched this idea of, as a teaser just doing a college commercial. We thought it was such a great idea. But at the time, thought, oh, I don’t think we can do that, or it would have cost too much money or something. The idea kind of went dormant for a while, but we brought it up again to John (Lasseter) and he loved that idea. John’s always looking for a different way to do things. And so he really just championed the idea of, we should do a college commercial, and then we should do, you know, a website. We should treat it like it’s a real university. And we all just got so excited about that. And John was really adamant about, and I don’t want there to be any links to the movie. I want this to just seem real.
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, I received no additional compensation. Everything I share about my experience is all mine.