Categories: Interviews

Interview: ‘Inside Out 2’ Director Kelsey Mann and Producer Mark Nielsen on Revisiting Riley, Joy and Company [VIDEO]

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At a recent Disney Pixar press day, I had the opportunity to speak with director Kelsey Mann and producer Mark Nielsen about the highly anticipated sequel, Inside Out 2. Both shared insights into why they decided to revisit one of Pixar’s most beloved films.

Kelsey Mann, known for his work on The Good Dinosaur and Monsters University, explained that the idea for Inside Out 2 came from Pete Docter, Pixar’s Chief Creative Officer and the original film’s director. “It’s hard enough to get that one,” Mann noted, referring to the original film’s complexity. Despite initial hesitations about a sequel, Mann highlighted the film’s enduring impact. “There’s something about Inside Out that it kept being talked about and brought up.”

The overwhelming positive feedback from audiences played a significant role in the decision to create a sequel. “People would come up to Pete and tell him how helpful the film was for them,” Mann shared. This emotional connection motivated Docter to greenlight the sequel. “That’s when Pete came to me and said there may be potential to go back and tell another story, and I think you would be a good one to find out if there is anything we can do.”

Mann emphasized that his feature debut, Inside Out 2 explores the self-conscious emotions prevalent during adolescence. “This is very much a focus on the self-conscious emotions that come up during adolescence where you can really kind of start to be hard on yourself and be more self-conscious about what others are thinking about you,” Neilson explained.

Mark Nielsen, a veteran at Pixar, co-producer on Toy Story 4, which won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, also served as an associate producer for the critically acclaimed film Coco. His extensive experience and understanding of complex narratives are evident in bringing Inside Out 2 to life.

A significant addition to the film is the character of Anxiety. Mann and Nielsen dedicated substantial time to understanding teenage emotions. “Mark and I definitely spent a lot of time with teenagers, listening to them, but I also remember feeling a lot of anxiety at that age,” Mann said. The rise of social media has only intensified these feelings for today’s youth. “They are feeling it even more now.”

To develop Anxiety, Mann shared that they carefully considered audience feedback. “We made a list by listening to the audience and kept going back to anxiety, thinking, ‘I think there’s something here.’” This feedback, combined with personal experiences, helped shape the character and the film’s narrative.

Watch Inside Out 2 when it releases only in theaters on June 14.

Landon Johnson

Landon Johnson is a writer and a film and marketing guru. Through his six-year career in media marketing and development, he has worked in New York, Los Angeles, and Hong Kong for a variety of entertainment companies. He can quote every line from Wes Craven's "Scream," and is a voting member of the Screen Actors Guild who has served on numerous awards nominating committees for both film and TV. When he's not binge-watching independent films, he has a real passion for promoting untold stories portrayed on film that have a lasting impact on audiences.

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