The Incredible 6-Year Journey of Pixar’s ‘Onward’
We’ve less than two months until Pixar’s next big film Onward hits theaters and what a journey it has been! The project was in development for nearly 6 1/2 years and follows brother elves Ian (voiced by Tom Holland) and Barley (voiced by Christ Pratt) as they embark on a magical quest to bring back their late father for 24 hours.
Kelsey Mann, the film’s head of story, had this to say about the process, “We have such a high bar at Pixar. We want to make sure the story is not just good, but great. It takes a long time to achieve that, so we work on the story for many, many years. We don’t actually start making it until the last year and a half.”
Mann has been working on the project since September 17, 2013. He reteamed with director Dan Scanlon and producer Kori Rae, with whom he worked on the Disney and Pixar movie Monsters University. “We start in a very scary place: an empty story room,” Mann said of Onward. “Imagine a whole room full of blank pages! It’s very intimidating.”
Scanlon knew the story he wanted to tell—even though initially he didn’t know how he was going to tell it. “In development, I knew I wanted to do something personal this time,” he said. “I just started working through things in my own life, asking questions of myself and asking questions of other filmmakers here. They helped me pull out certain things.”
For Scanlon some of these elements are deeply personal. Like Ian and Barley, Scanlon and his brother lost their father at a young age. This resulted in many unanswered questions. “My biggest question was, ‘Who was he—and how am I like him?’” Scanlon recalled. That’s when Scanlon realized, “Wouldn’t it be amazing if you had one day with that person? What would you say? That’s where the idea of magic came from, because we thought, ‘Well, we need to make a movie where that could be possible.’”
Rae, a producer for the film, praised how open the director was during the development process. “There are times we will debate things, and there will be times after we’ll leave a review when afterward people will come up and go, ‘Oh, I’m still not sure about this decision or about this choice.’ So, we’ll keep talking about it,” Rae said. “That’s all we do all day long—make choices and decisions and try to move everything forward. This is fun! It’s great.”
Scanlon added, “It’s a really scary thing, and it’s a very private and lonely thing—even though you do have a lot of help. You have to dig into yourself and think about your life; talk to people and talk to your friends. It’s like therapy.” Like Scanlon, Rae wouldn’t have it any other way. “The beautiful thing is you have a little of amnesia,” she said. “We forget that horrific first year or two where you’re coming in every day trying to figure out what kind of movie you’re making… Now we’re doing fun post-production stuff. We get to sit back and look at everybody else’s amazing work, comment on it, and give notes to finish up the film. This part is way easier!”
Take a look at the official trailer for ‘Onward’ hitting cinemas on March 6th here:
Thinking about a visit to Disney? Getting started is easy! Simply fill out my form below to get your FREE, no-obligation quote from MickeyTravels! Book before January 31, 2020 and I’ll even throw in a FREE Disney Gift Card!
Find articles like this helpful? Then why not consider working with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner? As an agent with MickeyTravels, I’ll be on hand to assist you with everything from finding your perfect sailing and stateroom to helping you plan lots of special touches to make your visit truly magical. Best of all my services are absolutely FREE. Get in touch at 1.800.801.4025 via email at email@example.com or follow along on Facebook