With the releases of The Incredibles, Ratatouille, and Wall-E, Brad Bird and Andrew Stanton may have opened the gates for directors of computer-animated features to be taken seriously as capital-f filmmakers, but it was Pete Docter who served as the medium's first great shepherd. After writing both Toy Story and Toy Story 2, Docter wrote and directed 2001's Monsters, Inc., a film that was not only a watershed moment in computer animation's history, but the real proof that Pixar – not to mention the studio's contemporaries – was a creative force that could transcend franchises and familiar characters to create something unique and memorable.
Docter returns to the director's chair this month for the release of Up, an epic new tale from Pixar that follows the adventures of a 78-year old widow named Carl (voiced by Ed Asner) and the wilderness scout who inadvertently tags along after the crusty septuagenarian ties thousands of balloons to his lifelong home and literally sails off into the sky. Cinematical recently spoke to Docter via telephone to discuss the process of mounting his second directorial effort. In addition to talking about the challenge of constructing a compelling story, Docter explained how he managed to tie so many disparate ideas together so well in Up, and discussed some of the quintessential summer movies that inspired him as a filmmaker.