The story goes like this:
When Ellie Docter was nine years old, she was outgoing and fearless. A cheerful little girl, game for adventure and prone to fits of uncontrollable joy. She was, according to her father Pete, just like the character of “Young Ellie” that she’d voiced in her dad’s Academy Award-winning film, Up.
By the time she’d reached eleven, though, “Young Ellie” wasn’t quite the same. In fact, in many ways she’d become almost a different person. More introspective. A little withdrawn. Kind of self-conscious. Even somewhat shy.
And so one day Pete Docter looked at his daughter and thought: “What is going on inside her head?”
That seed of parental concern stuck with him until it became the inspiration for his film, Inside Out, and voila! Another blockbuster movie from Pixar Animation Studios was born.Eight seasons followed by years and years of contract negotiations and finally on June 3, 2015 The Entourage movie will hit the big screen and become a reality for fans all over the world. However, since it may seem like a short eon since the HBO series ended let’s catch up and figure out where it all ended.
Ellie Docter had to wait until she was sixteen years old before her dad could finish the animated feature film that she’d inspired.
It took Pete, and Pixar, about five and a half years to make Inside Out the way he envisioned it. He was assisted by an all-star voice cast (featuring Amy Poehler and Mindy Kaling, among others), and a crew that eventually swelled to about 350 people. When they were all done, they’d produced a captivating story of an eleven-year-old girl named Riley (based on you-know-who), a child who is “uprooted from her Midwest life when her father starts a new job in San Francisco.”
What’s especially fun about Inside Out is that Docter gives a peek inside Riley’s mind as she goes through the transition from Minnesota to California—and from childhood to adulthood. We see her emotions portrayed as real-life characters named Joy (Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), and Disgust (Kaling). We see Riley’s memories, pictured as beautiful glass globes tinged by the colors of her emotions. We see her imaginary childhood friend, Bing Bong (who cries candy caramels for tears when he’s sad!) and view the entire “Head-quarters” of Riley’s mind. It’s fascinating and imaginative—something you’d expect from the acclaimed director and writer behind previous Pixar hits like Monster’s Inc., Up, and Toy Story.
And Young Ellie Docter? Well, she sat this one out.
Despite his daughter’s unmistakable influence on Inside Out, Pete says, “We didn’t really consult with her along the way”—though she did get a chance to see a “not-quite-finished” version of the film before its 2015 release. “She was pretty much like, ‘Eh, good movie, Dad,’” Docter reports with a laugh. “I don’t know how much she is internalizing how she affected it. We’ll see, I guess, in the long run.”
For Inside Out, Pete Docter drew from the deep well of his own experiences as a lonely, confused kid from Minnesota. “There must be something for me that I still haven’t quite put to bed about growing up,” he says, “and the difficulty of that that makes it still intriguing.”
When he was a boy, Docter explains, making friends was a struggle. Young Pete often felt like an outsider, even in his own school and in his family’s church. “I think that’s part of the reason why it freaked me out watching my daughter go into that place,” he says, “because I remembered being in some dark places myself in junior high.
“I don’t think I—literally—went over to anybody else’s house from like eighth- to tenth/eleventh-grade. I just didn’t really have friends. I didn’t know how to engage with people. I was kind of shy and gangly and awkward, and so I would escape and draw in my room. I think that’s really the reason why I got into animation, because I had something I wanted to say but I didn’t know how to speak to people. So I know that that’s a really difficult time for a lot of folks.”
Fast-forward to today and that shy, awkward kid is using the relationship lessons of his lonely childhood to engage the world with Inside Out.
“The thing that’s the most important to us as humans … is relationships,” he says about making this movie. “I sort of had this realization that the people that I feel the deepest connection with are beyond just folks that I’ve had a good time with—that we’ve gone to Disneyland together—but also things, people that we’ve shared intense sadness…People that we got to work with here that I’ve been scared for, that I’ve been angry at. All these things that don’t always feel positive at the time, I think, establish the deepest connection with each other. And so that’s ultimately where we set this film. It’s about that kind of thing.”