Accompanied by producer Kori Rae, Forward director Dan Scanlon tells us how he worked on the new Pixar animated film. Interview.
To talk about the latest from animation studio Pixar, Forward, we posed questions to its director Dan Scanlon and producer Kori Rae who previously collaborated on Monsters University. In this interview, they evoke in turn the very personal inspirations of En Avant but also their work at Pixar. En Avant sets up a modern world populated by fantastic creatures such as elves, fairies and centaurs. The animated film follows the journey of two brothers who lost their father at a very young age and will try, using magic, to live a day in his company.
You had previously worked together on Monsters University. Was the writing of En Avant different?
Dan Scanlon: It was important to do something personal for us. As much as we love Monsters University and what it says, En Avant was an opportunity to start from scratch and do something that spoke to us in a very personal way. The idea came to me when I lost my father when I was young and we made this story of these two boys who go on an adventure hoping to live a day with their dad. We also wanted to make a film that would be funny while having real issues and a real adventure. And above all to tell a story that people could relate to.
Pixar artists are masters of building universes in which to tell their stories. During conception, do you start with the story or the universe?
Kori Rae: I think it more or less always starts with the story.
DS: After that, it can come from elsewhere. I’ve heard people say, “How cool would it be to make a movie where monsters live under your bed?” because it’s something any kid has believed at some point. We then wonder what this film would look like. Other times you think more about the story: “I lost my father, what if I could meet him? How would that be possible? And in what world?” So we can draw inspiration from both.
“It’s an exciting time at Pixar right now. New voices are appearing within the studio.” – Kori Rae
Pixar seems to have more or less left out sequels to make more original films. What do you think ?
KR: I don’t know if it was a very conscious decision. We do sequels when someone has a great idea going on in that world. In any case, it’s an exciting time because we make a lot of original films and new voices appear in the studio. As it turns out, we’ve done a few sequels in a row and now more original scripts. But I’m not sure it’s a conscious effort. It mostly plays out on the filmmakers who carry these ideas.
Did you role-play when you were little?
DS: No ! Strangely, we didn’t play it. But we worked with so many people who were role players that we learned a lot during the making of the film. We also learned a lot about the fantasy genre.
KR: We got a greater understanding of the genre. I didn’t understand everything it was talking about before. And now I understand the world of role-playing and even life-size role-playing much better. They are extremely creative hobbies. It was good to learn more about it.
What fantasy books and movies have inspired you?
DS: We watched movies and read books that are classic fantasy. Whether good or bad, both allow us to learn. I couldn’t cite a specific one because we were looking for clichés, to have a vast …
KR: A vast panorama of photos so that we can choose. The tavern, for example, we see a lot of quest movies or fantasy movies that start in taverns. So we would take those kinds of images and think about how to fit them into our modern fantasy world.