Soul Filmmakers Talk the Biggest Challenges of Making the Pixar Film

Pixar's upcoming film Soul may be one of its most ambitious yet as it takes on some of life's biggest questions in what makes us who we are, what does the spark that makes us unique come from, and what makes life worth living. The film is also ambitious in terms of its design, trying to create a vision of what life before life looks like. For filmmakers Pete Docter and Dana Murray working with those questions as well as the abstract nature of the film were two of the biggest challenges in making Soul.

Speaking with during a recent press event, Murray said that one of the biggest challenges of making Soul was the story, especially with the schedule for the film.

"The story," Murray said. "It was a really, really impossible story. Our schedule was shortened by an entire year, so it just felt like the stakes were really high every time we were showing the screening. It felt really intense."

Docter said that in addition to the story, the design of the film was tough as well, though having made Inside Out served as a "boot camp" for making Soul.

"The design, too, that was also the toughest thing," Docter said. "They're all the toughest. There was a lot of tough things. Yeah. Because it's a very abstract, really, if you break it down from the characters on, and so making that into something... And we'd learned a little bit from making Inside Out something as abstract as the mind and trying to make that physical, so you can show it and dramatize it, I think it was good boot camp for us, a training ground for Soul."

There were other challenges in making Soul as well, those that were completely unexpected. The COVID-19 pandemic that impacted the entire entertainment industry also hit Soul when stay at home and lockdown orders presented the challenge of having to finish the already complex film remotely. Co-director and writer Kemp Powers explained during a recent virtual press conference for the film that a documentary about finishing the film was created about the experience.

"We ended up actually creating a documentary about the process of finishing Soul remotely that'll come out at some future date," he said.

"I guess we were really lucky and blessed of where we were at in production because the back-end is highly technical," Murray said. "So, people were able to literally grab their machines and go home with them, and we were up and running in a day or two. "Our systems team is incredible. Everyone was just really resilient."

You can check out the official synopsis for Soul below.


Soul follows Joe Gardner (Jamie Foxx), a middle-school band teacher who gets the chance of a lifetime to play at the best jazz club in town. But one small misstep takes him from the streets of New York City to The Great Before – a fantastical place where new souls get their personalities, quirks, and interests before they go to Earth. Determined to return to his life, Joe teams up with a precocious soul, 22 (Tina Fey), who has never understood the appeal of the human experience. As Joe desperately tries to show 22 what’s great about living, he may just discover the answers to some of life’s most important questions.

Soul will debut on Disney+ on Christmas Day, Friday, December 25th.