Go inside the real psychology of Inside Out 2

Pixar's sequel film once again worked with mental health experts and teenagers to inform the story of the film

Before that story, here’s what you should also know this week

  • Tiana’s Bayou Adventure (the reimagined Splash Mountain log flume water attraction) has an opening date for its Walt Disney World resort version of June 28, 2024, with the Disneyland Resort version opening later in the year.

“Emotions are real things.”

Pixar’s Inside Out 2 is once again a film about emotions. With the sequel film centering around a new cast of emotions in Riley’s head as she becomes a teenager, director Kelsey Mann and producer Mark Nielsen knew they had to be experts of the teenage mind to tell an authentic story.

“But we aren’t teenagers anymore,” Mann said to a gathering of press during an invite-only press preview of the film at the studio in Emeryville, California. “We definitely acted like them during production,” added Nielsen laughingly.

While Mann and Nielsen were honest about their expertise, they definitely wanted to draw upon real teenagers and mental health experts to help them craft a believable story with a very real and aging Riley.

Nielsen said the production enlisted a group of 9 teenagers between the ages of 13 and 19 from the surrounding San Francisco area to create what they called “Riley’s Crew,” whose sole responsibility was to review parts of the film every four months while it was in production and give their honest feedback.

“These girls were great because they were excited to help work on a Pixar movie, but moreover, they were just themselves giving their thoughts. Those notes sessions had to be the most cutting and most honest ones we’ve had at Pixar,” said Nielsen.

As for the new emotions that are being introduced in Riley’s head in the film, Mann initially included 9 new emotions to show up in Headquarters as he wanted to show how Riley could feel “overwhelmed” by how she was feeling in the film. However, Mann began to see how the personified emotions would effectively cancel each other out because one “couldn’t keep up with them” as you were following the core story.

It was during early development, though, that Mann brought back the Dr. Dacher Keltner, who was the emotional expert on the first “Inside Out” film, to bring order to the emotional chaos.

“I asked him, ‘what emotions should we keep for our teenager?,’ and his reply was simple: the ones that are the self-conscious emotions,” said Mann, who continued by saying that the science that Dr. Keltner shared pointed to the how teenagers begin to socialize and start to care about how others think about them. “We’re hard-wired to begin taking care of ourselves in that [teenager] age after experiencing life taking care of itself for so long, and there’s a complexity in your emotional reaction that really allowed us to hone in on those emotions driving Riley and our story forward,” added Mann.

Still, the story of Riley growing in her teenage years is definitely still going to be an emotional one that we’ll all feel, regardless if you’re a teenager or not. “I started out wanting to tell this personal story of why I started to smile less in my birthday photos as a kid as I got older, and I realize more now that we’re close to wrapping up this film that I’m still a kid at heart navigating life with all my beautiful emotions in me,” said Mann.

Added Nielsen, “Emotions are real things. I hope that when audiences see our film that they know that and can grow from knowing and accepting them, too.”

Pixar’s Inside Out 2 comes to theaters on June 14, 2024.

STILL TO COME: A step-by-step process of how to make an animated film at Pixar- taught from the artists themselves!

Here’s an exclusive poster made for Inside Out 2 by our friends at Dolby Cinema!

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