The team behind the Oscar-winning animated feature “Soul” talked Sunday evening about what happened at Pixar when the pandemic struck mid-production.
Producer Dana Murray said filmmakers were luckily already in the last seven weeks of production when the shutdown was called.
“People just took their machines home when we got sent home from work,” Murray said. “We were naive, right: we were like `we’ll see you in a few weeks,’ and little did we know.”
Peter Docter, one of two directors and three writers on the film and the chief creative officer at Pixar, said the team had lots of in-person experience to draw on.
“We have spent many years working together and have a great camaraderie and relationship,” Docter said.
Asked about the inspiration for the film, he said animators were “looking for something that would be fun to watch … (an) artist’s journey kind of a thing,” and once the team started working on a story about jazz, they saw so many parallels to life.
“You don’t get into jazz to get rich and famous, you do it because you love it, it’s a noble pursuit,” Docter said. “And then, as we got into it, we realized, boy this has so many relevant features in terms of what life is all about: using whatever elements are thrown at you and using improvisation to make it personal, to make it beautiful.”
He said Jamie Foxx, who voiced the lead, brought great energy to the role.
“Okay, Joe is way more nerdy than Jamie. Jamie is much cooler,” but Foxx was able to offer so much, the producer said. “His sense of energy. He just never stops, he never gives up. He’s an amazing musician. Of course, he can do comedy and drama, and we were just very fortunate to be able to nab him.”
Asked about what projects are up next, Docter joked, “Sleep, a lot of sleep,” before highlighting some of Pixar’s upcoming films, including “Luca” and “Turning Red.”
“We have an amazing group of films coming up at Pixar,” he said. “We just have an amazing slew of new directors that have really inspiring different stories, different styles. It’s a very exciting time to be at Pixar.”