I attended the Monster’s University Freshman Orientation (press event) last month. Travel expenses and accommodations were covered by Disney/Pixar (as well as plenty of behind-the-scenes sneak peek information about the upcoming movie) but no monetary compensation was received. All opinions are my own.
When Kori Rae entered the conference room and took a seat at the head of the big table, surrounded by our rather large group of bloggers, she immediately felt like one of us. We could have chatted with her for hours, I’m sure.
Kori Rae Pixar started working with Pixar in 1993 and was part of the original entrepreneurial team that helped build and shape Pixar into the studio it is today. Kori worked on Pixar’s first hit, Toy Story, and then was asked to be the animation manager on A Bug’s Life and Toy Story 2. She continued on as associate producer for Monsters, Inc and The Incredibles.
Pretty incredible resume, if you ask me.
While we sat with her inside the Steve Jobs building on Pixar Studios’ campus, we asked her why it took so long to make a follow up to Monster’s Inc., especially considering the success of the movie.
Her response was that the decision to make Monsters University was more about how much the people at Pixar loved the world of Monsters, Inc., and not so much about the success of the first movie.
We also questioned the decision to create a prequel instead of a sequel. According to Kori Rae, the prequel made the most sense from the beginning. She said, “Let’s go backwards, see how the characters became the way they are, and explore the world of the Monsters.” Monsters University is the story of Mike and how he overcomes failure and how he realizes his dream.
The movie asks the question, “What do you do when one door closes, especially when you think that door was your only option?”
And answers back, “If you work hard enough, you can achieve anything.” What a great message to send to children and adults alike!
Ms Rae spoke of the challenges of making a prequel – she said that prequels are intense but a lot of fun. “How do you make a prequel fun and interesting but not predictable? You know how the story ends…” One of the first things they did in the beginning was to create and design background characters.
Animation-wise, the number of secondary/background characters was difficult in Monsters University. There are hundreds (literally) of background characters – any way you look at it, that’s a lot of work.
The good news is that everyone collaborates at Pixar. That fact was apparent everywhere we looked on the Pixar campus, from the way employees interacted with each other to the various clusters of chairs and tables designed for impromptu meetings in the middle of the work day. Kori said that you have to be able to roll with changes at Pixar – deadlines are changing constantly. They have milestones and goals, of course, but otherwise everything is fluid.
One of the bloggers in our group asked Kori Rae, “Do you ever get antsy and eager to see the project finished?” She answered, “Yes – but there is so much progress along the way.” Progress moves all of them along (and judging by their successes, they have a lot to be proud of!).
Check out this Monsters University trailer:
I attended the #MonstersUEvent press trip during the month of April. All travel expenses were covered but no monetary compensation was received. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Photos included in this post were taken by the official Pixar MU photographer. Used with permission.
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