This year has done a number on us all in various ways. The “spare time” we’ve been afforded during the lockdown has also made more room for extra existential thoughts.
Cue Pixar’s first film with a Black lead character, Soul, which explores the possibilities of the meaning of life.
The synopsis for Soul, per a press release sent to The Root:
What is it that makes you...YOU? Pixar Animation Studios’ all-new feature film “Soul” introduces Joe Gardner (voice of 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 (voice of 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.
For my fellow creators out there, one of the most gut-wrenching things we can experience is a creative block. With the lockdown, that block may have been exacerbated for some. Joe also has to navigate this struggle in some way with his music in the film. Thus, I asked the cast and crew of Soul to give us some creative nuggets.
“You actually have to put your creative on a conveyor belt,” Foxx mused. “Don’t think of it as like, ‘I got to create something special.’ Most of the people that are successful in our business are people that can complete the task. You will see a lot of talented people with great big ideas, but don’t know how to actually mechanically complete the task. So, if you’re super, super, super creative, make sure you get either you or someone who can help you mechanically get through those things so that when you’re not creative, at least your engine’s still churning.”
“Go back and remember those times when you were unstuck—what supported you, what encouraged you, what sparked you, “Angela Bassett, who portrays legendary jazz musician Dorothea in the film, added. “You’re just stuck—it’s not like it disappeared. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Sometimes you have to sit and wait for the muse to show up.”
I hear that!
Get into the array of answers from Foxx, Fey, Bassett, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, producer Dana Murray, director Pete Doctor and director Kemp Powers above and be inspired, just as I have.
Soul debuts Dec. 25 on Disney+.