As you all know – I loved Inside Out. It’s classic Pixar and their most emotional experience since Up. So when I had the chance to sit down and talk to the movie’s co-director Ronnie del Carmen I was full of Joy (later I had a sandwich from a service station and felt Fear, Disgust, Sadness, and Anger but that’s a whole other story). Ronnie has been at Pixar for years where he has worked on all your favourite movies and with the latest being Inside Out which he wrote and co-directed. Here’s what he had to say to me:
Michael Boyd (Me!!!) – Hi Ronnie, the box office at the weekend has been incredible. do you not just feel like “screw this, I’m going home”?!
Ronnie del Carmen – Ha, I’m very happy. I’m walking…I’m on cloud 9 because we just tell stories, we draw cartoons, make each other laugh and it’s fantastic to be a part of Pixar but when a movie reaches an audience and that story and characters get embraced it’s thrilling. I don’t even read the numbers I just read peoples reactions to them, it’s amazing.
MB – the thing about Pixar is people expect a lot, the bar is set incredibly high. Is that a lot of pressure because it’s got your name on it.
RD – Oh yes! You try not to think about that too much because you could spook yourself to incapacity when you think about those things. Thankfully what we do is very very mundane. We sit in a room , we tell each other stories, we draw pictures, and we worry about the story, that’s all. We don’t think about reaching an audience, we just want to tell a great story first, and then you worry! And then you go like “I wonder if this is going to be good enough”. You don’t know, you wish the best for your stories and the movies you work on. You try and work on each time and every time to improve it and make it worthy of being, you know, part of the brand but so far it hasn’t stopped us from going forward and thankfully it didn’t stop us in the making of this movie because we were able to just push play and you guys get to watch a movie.
MB – The casting is excellent, were of thinking of specific people while you were designing the characters?
RD – It’s kind of one of things that becomes organic. When you’re writing a character and creating them on story reel you start getting familiar with the character, they start to become better rounded, so to speak, that you kind of understand that, oh, this character is able to do this and believe this and care about that, then you start hearing a voice in your head, then you start conferring with your other story telling partners and you start hearing “mmm that sounds like Amy Poehler”, the way you write starts to think that, you know “erm Amy would say it this way. Oh I haven’t even asked anyone.” You don’t know if they want it, would they be available…
MB – Nobody’s going to turn down a Pixar movie…
RD – Well you think, you hope right?? This is quite a privilege to work for Pixar and people would probably want to say yes, but you still don’t know but you work on it as if, you know, they are going to want to. So that when you make the call “would Amy be interested?” and she says yes “yesss”. In fact actually when you have Amy and when she read through she started making notes on the character and they started performing Joy much more than we ever imagined until she turned that character and put her own personality into Joy, there’s no question because Amy herslf is much like Joy. She’s very inclusive, she’s very positive. She actively wants everyone to do well and she wants to make sure that everything turns out well. We’re so lucky.
MB – It kind of reminded me of Inception for kids.
RD – Ha, Inception for kids!
MB – It’s just these things happen and it makes sense. You identify with the importance of sadness…Do you feel proud that you can make grown men cry? I had a tear.
RD – Ha, well that’s not quite the goal but one of the things that we had talked about between Pete (Pete Docter – Director) and I is if we’re going to tell a story about emotions, we had better make it emotional! When we say some things are emotional usually we talk about challenging circumstances because we make entertaining movies. We know how to laugh, we know how to enjoy certain things but a lot of the things that as human beings we’re not really good at is having to deal with difficult feelings, complicated ones. We try not to show it, we try not to give ourselves into it but we do know that when you’re facing a movie and not facing another human being that you’re empathizing with the story that emotion happens to you, the audience member, that tears happen. I’ve done that as an audience member but you don’t want to show that to another person when you’re talking. You try not to. It’s somehow kind of easier to be in the dark, facing a movie, empathizing with what is happening to another person because it connects with you and hopefully you can talk about it with someone else afterwards.
MB – And don’t tell anyone I said that!
RD – That’s alright, don’t write it! It’s very difficult to disclose because we as a society in our culture, we find it a sign a weakness, but it isn’t because we all go through it and it’s almost kind of liberating to be able to say that we all go though it and let’s not give each other a hard time.
MB – I think I already know the answer to this question but which emotion from the movie is most active in your head?
RD – Most active in my head? Ah there’s two ways I’m going to qualify it. The one character I can relate to in terms of her mission is Joy, being a parent I want my children to be happy all the time. The most negative emotion in my head is sadness, because at the studio I get all of the scenes that are about making people cry. That’s what I get. Some people get all the action scenes, you know, buildings crumbling, car chases and all that. Some people get those. I get two people in a room and some heavy things happening, that’s what I get. Maybe it’s because I can communicate that better than other people or maybe it’s because of some other thing, I don’t know.
MB – So you’re professionally sad?…
RD – I’m professionally a sad maker!
MB – You need a business card with that on it…
RD – Ha, I can train people too, wanna sign up??
MB – I’m an expert, I make people sad all the time.
MB – Thanks Ronnie, the film was great which always makes this easier.
RD – Oh thank you, I’m so glad you got to see it.
Thanks again to Ronnie del Carmen, Inside Out is released in the UK on 24th July and it’s very good.