Are you ready for Elemental?
We had the pleasure of touring Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, CA (basically San Francisco) where we nerded out inside the epicenter of cinematic innovation in Hollywood.
There were life-sized Pixar characters, art-splashed workspaces showcasing classic Pixar moments, A PIXAR STORE with exclusive Pixar collectibles, and a bustling social scene where the brightest minds in animation gather to fellowship.
The energy was infectious in a place that doesn’t feel like it actually exists in real-life yet does. It’s quite the experience.
While there, we enjoyed a sneak peek at Pixar’s soon-to-be smash Elemental ahead of our interview with Peter Sohn, Vice President of Creative at Pixar Animation Studios and Producer Denise Ream that you can read below:
GG: ‘I’ve heard everyone say that they could not see this [Elemental] in their mind–that it was an impossible task–
Peter Sohn: ‘Yeah. Yeah. Everyone we pitched to in the beginning just didn’t get it‘–
Denise Ream: ‘Yeah.. there were three key images, maybe four, and a big visual–it was just hard to visualize and conceive, really–that’s why it was hard.’
GG: What advice would you give someone who wants to do something that’s seemingly impossible?
Peter Sohn: ‘I would say for me the naivete of how possible it was kept me going… if I had known what I knew now, I don’t know if I would have gone down this route. Honestly, this was a very difficult process to try to figure out. But I went in with a lot of naivete with just hopefulness. I love the movies and this would be a cool concept for a movie. Yeah, that’s the fuel. You just keep driving with that thing. My car is going pretty fast with this one and then all of a sudden people are like, ‘how you gonna do this?’ Oh, I don’t know. I don’t know.’
Denise Ream: ‘Yeah, it was gonna be hard. It was exponentially harder. But I think, you know, it’s kind of putting the blinders on. Like, it’s having a vision. And you kind of have to block out the noise–you kind of have to. Because everyone kept telling us that [the film was impossible to make]. Yeah, they really did and it’s important to find collaborators that felt passionate about it.’
Peter Sohn: ‘Yeah. And I realized I was pretty stubborn–I was like, ‘No, this could work.’ We went all the way up to the big dogs and then there were questions. And I’m like, ‘No, this could work. This could work’ but the naysayers sort of became a fuel–I always thought of it like Jordan in the early days in North Carolina where just people would just say, ‘you’re not going to make it,’ he would just use that as fuel.’
GG: One thing I love about Pixar is how you create characters that people love, that are beloved, that are not necessarily the main character but are just characters in the movie like ‘Claude’–I can just see that he’s gonna be a star.
Peter Sohn: ‘That’s great to hear. He was a character that made us laugh, really. I think he was one of the first characters that I had to pitch in that original outline and then he went away. I just thought the idea of puberty with characters was something funny. Like, it was this kid who’s a little Romeo who loves Ember and he was so young that it felt funny. And I just love that character. But he definitely came out of boredom, like, what does Earth puberty look like?
GG: Why do you think Pixar resonates so much with people across generations?
Peter Sohn: ‘I mean, we make [films] for a lot of different generations. You know, we try to lay out the films in a way that speaks to a lot of people. At least I know that this is my second movie. I love those types of movies. I just naturally love movies that speak to everybody. I know that, for me, it’s just in the [Pixar] DNA.’
Denise Ream: ‘Yeah. We make movies we find entertaining… we’re not that different from the average person, right?‘
Peter Sohn: ‘…and then this place, you know, the brain trust here, the creative folks, all have similar sensibilities–when someone’s like, ‘we need to hit this 14% of this demographic,’ it’s never like that. It’s more like, ‘is this idea truthful? Does it feel authentic? Does it resonate with everyone?’ You know, we show the movies to everyone here and we ask for notes and so you’re always trying to gauge where something didn’t connect but it’s all starting from a truthful place versus, ‘we got to hit ages 18 to 17,’ or whatever that is.’
In Disney and Pixar’s Elemental, moviegoers are transported to an extraordinary place called Element City where a host of elements live and work.
As you can imagine, things take a rather interesting turn when a quick-witted and fiery woman named Ember (whose always stayed close to home in Firetown) finally ventures out of her comfort zone to explore this spectacular world specifically crafted for the big-screen experience.
Check out the trailer below:
Directed by Peter Sohn, produced by Denise Ream, and executive produced by Pete Docter, the buzzy family film stars Leah Lewis and Mamoudou Athie as Ember and Wade, Ronnie del Carmen as Ember’s soon-to-be retired dad, Bernie, Shila Ommi as Ember’s love-seeking mom, Cinder, Wendi McLendon-Covey as Wade’s stormy, and Air-Ball-loving boss, Gale, Catherine O’Hara as Wade’s welcoming mom, Brook, Mason Wertheimer as Ember’s admiring earth neighbor, Clod, and Joe Pera as an overgrown city bureaucrat, Fern.
Elemental opens in theaters June 16, 2023.
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