InsideOutFor Pete Docter, his personal relationships extend beyond just his friends, family, and co-workers.

“I know some people say Jesus is a great teacher, or whatever,” he says. “[But] I think there’s something fundamental to the Christian faith that speaks to the core of who we are. By that I mean, some people say that plot is the most important thing in film, or in stories. Other people will say characters. I feel like it’s relationship … To me, that’s what really motivates you to change, to grow. It’s what is the most important thing in most of our lives, these relationships that we have with other people. I think that’s what Jesus brings: A personal relationship with God that is really unique. It’s the only sort of religion that I know of that offers that.”

“Yeah, I’d call myself Christian,” he continues, “although I sometimes feel like I’m not really deserving of that … Out here, there’s kind of a judgment against ‘Christian,’ because people grew up in judgmental societies and for various reasons—probably legitimate reasons—they feel a negativity towards that, which I get. But I think, even those people, if they were to sit down and study more deeply what is at the root of this faith, it’s pretty remarkable.”

Still, Docter didn’t make Inside Out to preach about his religion. He made it to entertain, to bring people together, and to maybe share a little truth about life and love and hope and more.

“Obviously you want it to be fun and entertaining and colorful and enjoyable,” he says, “but hopefully you want to dig deeper to find something more substantive, and have the time to develop that so that it’s meaningful and comes across.”

He adds, “The heart of Inside Out is about childhood and growing up and becoming adult, which is, I think, one of the more difficult times in all of our lives—trying to figure out ‘where do I fit in the world?’ and ‘how do I carve out my own space?’ You lose something at that moment. Childhood is lost, and you can’t go back. That’s what makes it a worthy, deep, meaningful subject.”

He pauses to collect his thoughts, ruminating about the universe he created inside Riley’s head—that imaginative place where he explores deeply the inner workings of childhood, adulthood, and even personhood. “That whole world is made up,” he says at last, “so we wanted to make it as truthful as possible.”

And what about his world? What truth does the mind behind Inside Out want to share with those of us in living out here in real life?

“Invest deeply … Even if it ends in heartache,” he says firmly. “Put your whole self into it. Whatever it is.”

BONUS! Insider Secrets in Inside Out

Because Inside Out is a Pixar film—and because Pixar folks like to have fun—director Pete Docter has hidden a few insider secrets for us to discover in Riley’s made-up world. Here are just a few:

• “At the beginning of the movie when we’re watching Riley growing up … There’s a magazine that’s on the table, and it’s a cooking magazine. On the cover is Colette from Ratatouille.”

• “There’s three separate scenes that I know of, and probably more, where [the Pizza Planet Truck] shows up…Right as Joy is first chasing after Bing Bong, look around there.

That’s the easiest one to spot.

• “Most of [Riley’s] background memories that you see on the shelves are actually shots from the ‘married life’ sequence of Up! So if you look really carefully you can see, oh there she’s straightened a tie, there’s Carl and Ellie, or breaking the jar, or things like that.”