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Hey Kids, back during the New York Comic Con, we had the great pleasure of chatting with the men behind Pixar’s Up (Click here for our review) .  Director Pete Docter (- Who also gave us Mike, Sully and Boo from Monsters, Inc. and wrote the Toy Story films.) and producer Jonas Rivera told me their reasons behind turning a 78-year-old man into an action hero, the zillions of projects coming out of the Pixar creativity hive, and why, like Kevin the snipe, the famous Pixar in-joke might be an endangered species.

Dig Up!



Director Pete Docter & Producer Jonas Rivera


LMD:  What was the inspiration to make Carl, a 78-year-old man, Up’s hero?

Pete Docter:  It sort of started with the idea of escaping, of getting away from everything.  Sometimes the world is like, ‘Uhhhh, I’ve had way too much of this.’  Bob Peterson and I got together and came up with this image of a house floating in the sky with balloons.  I was like, “Wow, that’s really intriguing.”  Somehow, visually it encapsulated that idea of escape.  Then we also wanted to do something with an old man; there’s been a lot of great humour possibilities that we’ve explored with a grouchy old guy.  So then we thought, “How did the old man get into the floating house?” And just running this thought experiment is what led to the film.


LMD:  Is it true that there are nine different Pixar films currently under production?

Jonas Rivera:  Yeah, there’s a lot going on. {Laughs}

PD:  The idea is that we have a movie stacked up every year, so they’re all kind of tiered in terms of time.


LMD:  With so many creative minds in the Pixar hive, how is it decided what comes out when?

JR:  That’s a good question.  It really comes from the top with John Lasseter and Ed Catmull kind of lining up the aircrafts to land on the airfield, so to speak.  It’s a whole combination of timing; when people are coming off the projects, getting back in the hopper in development, working it out with Disney and the larger slate - when they’ll need something.  I think the best thing about it is there’s enough variation to kind of move us around as they see fit.  But the final decision really comes from John and Ed.


LMD:  In WALL-E, there was some distinct social commentary.  In Up, we have food for thought, as well, like don’t mess with the elderly.  There is also the issue of gentrification with Carl’s house being taken from him by greedy real estate developers.  Is that insertion of a social message intentional?

PD:  I don’t like to think of it as a lecture.  Like if I ever myself, as a moviegoer ever feel like someone’s trying to put forth an agenda, I tune out.  Even if I agree with it!  I don’t want to feel lectured.  It’s more like observations, right?  Looking around, there is all this change and growth.  I’m not that old, but my neighbourhood is totally built up and changed now, and that’s just the way of the world.  So, it felt real and that’s ultimately what we’re after is just some reflection of real life up there in this weird caricature world of fish, or monsters, or whatever it is, you want to recognise something about your own experience as a person.


LMD:  You mentioned Carl earlier as a grouchy old man and you have young Russell, the Wilderness Explorer, who could come off as annoying.  Did you ever worry that you wouldn’t be able to balance the two to make their chemistry work?

PD:  To me, that’s what makes film or theatre work is when you have characters that start sparking off each other.  We sort of found that almost by accident on Toy Story with Buzz and Woody and it worked.  In Monsters, we initially just had Sully and he brought in this little girl, and it wasn’t until we got the suggestion to put in a friend, Mike, that Sully started to develop.  And by putting these characters together, you just start to really find out more about each one of them because hopefully they’re very different than each other. 

It was a little tricky at first to find what it was about this little kid that would push this old man’s buttons; tenacity, for sure, like he won’t take no for an answer.  No matter how many times he slams the door on him, the kid keeps “ding-dong” coming back. 


LMD:  How long did it take to produce Up?

PD: It was pretty typical; it was about four-and-a-half, five years.

JR:  Five years with the development of the small team early on, and then we’d come on and start making it, it’s about four years.


LMD:  Will there be in-jokes in Up?

Both:  Yes!

PD:  A113 is in there. The Pizza Planet truck is in there, that’s been in all of them.

JR:  In fact, it’s in there twice


LMD:  Is that a requirement now of every Pixar film?

PD:  No, I think Brad {Bird} skipped out on a couple of the traditional ones. 

JR:  Brad did?

PD:  The ball with the star, maybe.


LMD:  I follow those things obsessively.

JR:  I’m glad it’s not wasted; it’s a lot of work.



~ The Lady Miz Diva

Feb 7th, 2009


Click here for our Movie Review of the wonderful Up.





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Exclusive photos by LMD

Film stills courtesy of Disney/Pixar





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