An Interview with the Minds Behind Soul
December 3, 2020
If you could use a little inspiration, then Soul, the new film from the storytellers of Disney and Pixar, is sure to lift your spirits when it begins streaming on Disney+ on December 25. And you can give yourself or a loved one a lasting reminder of this touching story with Soul merchandise from Disney store or shopDisney.com, where Cardmembers save 10% on select purchases.1
Telling a story about where souls come from is a really big idea. Where did it come from? How do you even begin to visualize a soul? “Pixar storytellers have never shied away from big ideas,” says Kemp Powers, Co-Writer and Co-Director of the film along with Pete Docter.
“The inspiration came when Pete Docter first saw his newborn son,” Powers says. “All of us parents know, the first moment your child arrives, you immediately begin seeing hints of personality.” For Docter, that moment sparked him to ask: “Where do we come from? Where does our personality come from? Who are we and what are we here on Earth to do?” Who among us hasn’t asked those questions? But how do you approach them in a story?
“It took a huge amount of time, meetings and concept art,” Powers said. “The story has been in development for over four years. But we finally found the look we wanted. We didn’t want the characters to look ghostly, so we chose a glowing translucent green/blue color. We also decided that every living being should have a soul form that represents their features when they’re on Earth, such as Joe’s glasses and fedora. Unborn souls haven’t had a human form yet, so we purposefully gave them an unformed amorphous look.”
It was also crucial to shape a fun story and create characters that audiences of all ages could relate to. Eventually, the storytellers settled on the dreams and aspirations of a musician—Joe Gardner (voice by Academy Award®-winning actor and comedian Jamie Foxx).
Joe’s a dedicated, caring middle-school band teacher, but he has let the everyday needs of making a living overcome his dreams of being a jazz pianist. When he has an accident that separates his soul from his body, he is transported to the “You Seminar,” an ethereal center where souls are refined before being sent off to human bodies. There, he meets 22 (voiced by Tina Fey), a feisty, cynical soul who is convinced there’s no point in going to Earth. 22 has been hanging out in “You Seminar” for quite some time, training with hundreds of mentors, so she’s a bit of a know-it-all. (Think typical teenager with strong opinions.) But she agrees to go on a journey to help get Joe’s soul back to his body on Earth before it’s too late.
“We can all relate to how it can be difficult balancing your dreams with your responsibilities.” Powers explains. “The question is what you look back on at the end of the day. Soul feels like a completely new and different film. I think it’s going to really surprise people.”
We also think it sounds like just the thing to lift our spirits and inspire us! To keep those good feelings going, take advantage of your Cardmember savings of 10% on select purchases at Disney store and shopDisney.com to take home a piece of Soul merchandise.1
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