About a month ago I got the rare chance to attend Monsters University at the Pixar Campus in Emeryville, California as a guest of the Disney • Pixar company. While I was there I had the opportunity to speak with Kori Rae, the producer of the film about the process of coming up with the theme for the prequel to the phenomenally popular Monsters Inc.
Kori Rae Pixar Monsters University Producer – Photo Credit: PIXAR (used with permission)
Rae state that it wasn’t the popularity of the film that demanded a sequel or prequel, it was how much they as film makers loved the characters. They loved the world of monsters and the characters, so they always knew they’d likely revisit it.
It was many years after the first movie released that Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter, John Lassiter, and Dan Garson got together to throw out some ideas for the new film. They spent 2-3 days bouncing ideas off each other before they settled on the college concept.
The idea they settled on was a prequel, the story of how Mike and Sully met in college and the road they take before Monsters, Inc. They chose college because it’s a setting they hadn’t explored before and one that really lent itself to storytelling and the addition of some fun new characters.
So does Rae see a sequel to Monsters, Inc? Perhaps where Boo goes off to college? She smiles and says that that hasn’t been discussed as of yet. But there’s always the possibility of the story continuing.
Kori Rae’s Pixar Journey
Rae has worked at Pixar for some time. She was a pre-production producer on Up (2009), and assistant producer for The Incredibles (2004) and Monsters, Inc. (2001) and she’s familiar with the classroom. She majored in secondary education and taught 8th Grade English right out of college for a time as well as coached volleyball, softball, and basketball.
Later she would leave the world of academia and after a journey of finding herself and trying on other occupations, she joined Pixar where she finds that producing is a lot like teaching and coaching.
So will Monsters University live up to the popularity of its predecessor? Rae believes that they have the right people in place and their talent, their commitment to the process, and their willingness to work together to bring out a product that they’ve collaborated on in the spirit making a great film. Everyone in the process is passionate about it and there’s no room for egos. Rae says, “It’s really about putting the best thing up on that screen.”
So does Rae have a favorite character? Like any good mom, she says she loves them all, but when pressed she offers up Dean Hardscrabble, a new character in the prequel. “As a character, and as a character design, I just love that she’s this strong, powerful, character, and that Sully and Mike cause her to shift a little bit, her way of thinking.”
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