By Rosalia Fodera 2/27/2016
To some, it may just be an animated movie, but to Oscar-nominated writer Meg Lefauve “Inside Out” is a whole lot more. When Inside Out director Pete Docter approached Lefauve with the plot for the movie, she knew right away it was something she wanted to be a part of.
“At this point it sounds cliche, but I really did feel in the moment that when he told me he wanted to do a movie about the importance of sadness and that is what connects people, I just thought that as such a profound idea to put out into the world,” Lefauve said about Docter’s vision. “I remember sitting at the table thinking ‘I have to somehow be a part of this movie I have to help him do this’”
“Inside Out” mainly takes place inside the brain, or ‘Headquarters’ of 11-year-old Riley. It follows her emotions as they guide her through a big move with her family. Joy (Amy Poehler) leads Headquarters with the help of Disgust (Mindy Kaling), Anger (Lewis Black), Sadness (Phyllis Smith) and Fear (Bill Hader). As Riley adjusts to the move, Sadness takes over and she learns the importance of understanding her feelings.
The movie has become a phenomenon on its own, from dolls to clothes, but it’s the message the movie sends that’s more important. When Lefauve gets feedback about the film from people she doesn’t even know, it makes her work worthwhile.
“The deepest satisfaction that I have gotten is the people that come up to me and say ‘I’m a better parent,’ ‘I understand myself better,’ ‘I’m more forgiving of myself.’ I had a woman walk up at a function and say that she works for LA County, and she works in the trauma unit and she goes in the night of the trauma, and it’s made her job so much easier because she can immediately talk to the kids and find out what’s happening inside of them,” Lefauve said on what she hears back from fans. “That is such an amazing ripple to go out into the world, that’s the best part.”
It hasn’t only touched strangers. Lefauve sees the movie’s message working in her own life, with her own children.
“My other son is a special needs kid and it’s given us a way to talk about what’s going on inside of him. Just like everybody else I’m using it to parent myself better too,” Lefauve said.
It seems tricky to write three separate storylines in one film, especially inside a young girl’s mind and dealing with all her emotions, but the team of three, Josh Cooley, Docter and Lefauve did it with a whole lot of teamwork.
“So the three of us, Josh and I would kind of trade back and forth. You know there’s three different story lines going…there’s Riley outside, and then there’s headquarters and then there’s down in the mind. So we would kind of divide it that way. Josh would headquarters for a spin and then I would take the mind and we would flip back and forth. Then of course Pete is coming back and forth to do his past,” Lefouve on writing with three people.
Because it’s Pixar the imagination and creativity are allowed to take over. When something they write doesn’t end up looking good after it’s animated, they just go back to the storyboard and find a better idea.
“What you think works on the page when it’s drawn you’re like ‘oh no it doesn’t work,’ or ‘oh you made that so much better.’…We had different stakes in the movie. Like right now the stakes are the personality island is crumbling and those cores memories, but we had different versions of what could be at stake. At one point it was darkness had taken over the mind, but once we saw it up on the boards, we thought ‘oh that doesn’t work.’”
Lefauve had fun writing it, but it was hearing the actors voice the lines she wrote that made it come to life.
“Listening to Amy Poelher say your lines, I don’t know, that’s pretty awesome,” Lefauve said.
If they win the first people Lefauve said she would thank are her husband and family, after she knocked on wood. “Inside Out” is also up for Best Animated Feature Film.