“Inside Out 2 ”filmmakers consulted with team of teen advisors: 'We need to go straight to the source'

“Inside Out 2 ”filmmakers consulted with team of teen advisors: 'We need to go straight to the source'

"They tell us what's right and what's wrong," director Kelsey Mann says of the adolescent focus group, dubbed "Riley's Crew."

Being a teenager is tough, but if you want to understand how tough it is nowadays, you should probably actually talk to some of them.

That's exactly what the team behind Inside Out 2 did, creating an advisory group of teen girls they nicknamed Riley's Crew to help them ensure Riley's experiences in the movie felt as authentic as possible.

The film reunites us with Riley's core emotions — led by Joy (Amy Poehler) — who are suddenly overrun by a group of newcomers, including Anxiety (Maya Hawke), Envy (Ayo Edebiri), Embarrassment (Paul Walter Hauser), and Ennui (Adèle Exarchopoulos) when Riley turns 13 and enters puberty.

Related: Inside Out 2 cast and characters: See who voices each emotion (returning and new!) in the Pixar sequel

Riley heads off to a weekend-long hockey camp, hoping to secure a spot on the high school team, only to discover en route that her two best friends will not be going to the same school as her in the fall. This sends Riley into a spiral, leading her to desperately try to make new friends and impress her potential future coach — until she ultimately breaks down and has a panic attack. Stressful but all too relatable.

"I am not 13 years old anymore," says director Kelsey Mann. "There's still a 13-year-old in me. I can tap into that, but I can only tap into it so much, especially if you want everyone to relate to this. I'm like, 'I need to go straight to the source.' So much of what we do at Pixar is doing our research, and we had some really wonderful people at Pixar that have a lot of connections to organizations outside of Pixar. I asked for them to give me a real diverse group of people, of girls. I was worried that they may come from one area. So, I go, 'I don't want just people that live in California, right by Pixar.' We went across the nation, and it really opened up because we didn't necessarily have to meet in person."

<p>Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Everett</p> 'Inside Out 2'

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Everett

'Inside Out 2'

Related: Welcome to the Belief System, a core part of Riley's mind in Inside Out 2

Once they convened their group of girls, ranging in age from 13 to 18, they turned to them for feedback the same way they would any other advisors on the film.

"Essentially, we had a Zoom room full of 13-year-old female advisors to watch every screening of the film to give us feedback," explains co-writer Dave Holstein. "Making a Pixar film is an endless conversation with a lot of very smart people that come from all backgrounds, including a room full of 13-year-old girls. We talked to professors and PhDs and all that, but it's an amalgam of people's experiences. Our own children weighed in and Kelsey has teenagers, but it was great to just have this objective focus group. It was so much more rewarding when one of them got the joke, when you knew something was landing with a 13-year-old girl struggling with the same thing."

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Related: Inside Out 2 cast debunks fan theories, including whether Toy Story's Andy and Riley share a dad

Mann says that the girls have been part of the filmmaking process for several years now and that Riley's Crew has seen every cut and screening of the film since the start. "They've been incredibly helpful," he reflects. "They tell us what's right and what's wrong, what resonates with them and what doesn't. The only way you can do that is going straight to the source."

Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.