Interview: ‘Onward’ Head Of Story Kelsey Mann On Creating Pixar’s First True Fantasy World

What exactly does a “Head of Story” do? Especially at a place like Pixar which is legendary for its deep, enriching, and imaginative stories that take audiences deep into the sea, inside the mind of an adolescent girl, or into the lives of our favorite toys. That daunting job title belonged to Kelsey Mann as he worked on Pixar’s latest film, the magical roadtrip adventure Onward, and he spoke with me and RogerEbert.com’s Nell Minow all about it.

Onward features the voices of Marvel vets Tom Holland and Chris Pratt as elf brothers Ian and Barley, who live in a world where magic has disappeared due to modern technological conveniences. The siblings embark on a dangerous journey to finish a magic spell that will let them reunite with their deceased father, who is along on the trip…sorta. The film was directed by Dan Scanlon, who Mann previously worked with on Monsters University.

Mann goes in-depth on what a movie production at Pixar is really like, how they came up with the D&D-inspired magical rules for Ian and Barley’s world, and much more. You can listen to our interview with Mann below, and find my review of Onward here!

*NOTE: I apologize for some of the audio issues and will make sure to get them sorted out in the future. Thanks for understanding!

SOURCECinema Royale
Travis Hopson has been reviewing movies before he even knew there was such a thing. Having grown up on a combination of bad '80s movies, pro wrestling, comic books, and hip-hop, Travis is uniquely positioned to geek out on just about everything under the sun. A vampire who walks during the day and refuses to sleep, Travis is the co-creator and lead writer for Punch Drunk Critics. He is also a contributor to Good Morning Washington, WBAL Morning News, and WETA Around Town. In the five minutes a day he's not working, Travis is also a voice actor, podcaster, and Twitch gamer. Travis is a voting member of the Critics Choice Association (CCA), Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), and Late Night programmer for the Lakefront Film Festival.

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