Pixar's Soul was one of last year's biggest hits on Disney Plus, and for good reason. The story of aspiring jazz pianist Joe and his attempts to reconnect with his body with the help of an infant soul (it makes sense when you watch it, honest) featured some of Pixar's most impressive animation yet.
To celebrate the film's release on Blu-Ray and DVD this week, Pixar story artist Michael Yates spilled some Soul secrets during a virtual draw-along event. (If you're looking for tips, our how to draw tutorials are a great place to start.)
During the event, Yates explained the role of a story artist. "We write our films with both words and images," he said. "Story artists are the team who help to write the story with images." A whopping 73,611 storyboard drawings were created during the writing process for Soul.
With that in mind, it's unsurprising that some drawings, and indeed whole scenes, don't make it into the final film. "But even if they end up on the cutting room floor," Yates said, "it's important that the ideas are there".
Yates revealed three different ideas from that didn't make it into the film, and explained how they still managed to remain important to the story. As part of what Yates called the "Joe's life" sequence, in which aspects of his past appear as flashbacks inside the 'Hall of You', Yates worked on several various short vignettes designed to show why Joe had never quite managed to succeed as a jazz pianist.
01. Joe helps his mother at the shop
All three scenes depict reasons why Joe missed auditions in the past. In the first, he is shown agreeing to work late at his mother's tailoring shop. Joe is seen getting ready to leave work at 5:59pm. "Jazz clubs are open late," Yates said. "So as long as he can leave on time, he can make it across town for his audition."
But as the camera pans to reveal a long queue of impatient customers, his mother asks him to stay. Knowing he can't leave her hanging, Joe gives a thumbs up and skips the audition.
02. Joe helps a friend move their sofa
"Sometimes it was just force majeure that prevented Joe from making it to auditions," Yates explained. The second scene shows Joe standing below a friend's window, waiting for them to pass a sofa down to him as he hurries them along, reminding them he has an audition in an hour.
Needless to say, the sofa is dropped. Next thing we know, Joe is sitting in hospital with a bandaged arm and hand, as the doctor tells him, "You won't be playing anything for at least six weeks." Yikes.
03. Joe helps out a student
And in the final scene, Joe is seen helping out a student at the school where he works. He rushes out of the building, late for yet another gig or audition. But as he leaves, he spots that there's still a student waiting at pickup.
"He knows what he has to do," said Yates. "He puts a smile on, and waits, and waits, and waits" with the student. When the parent finally arrives, Joe dashes to his audition – only to find that the building is already closed.
While it can be sad to see your ideas eventually cut from the final product, Yates said, it's always for the better of the film. And even ideas that are cut can help to create a full picture of who a character is. "Every idea is a chance to discover a truth about the character and their experience that will make them the character we love, care about and root for."
If you haven't experienced Soul yet, you can find the film on Disney Plus (see below for today's best deals). And for more incredible behind-the-scenes Pixar tidbits, these mind-boggling facts about the making of Toy Story 4 are a must-read.